Preamble section 6:
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,


  1. Universalizing and Internationalizing Human Rights
  2. Examples of the Universalization of Human Rights in Post-Apartheid South Africa
  3. The United States and International Human Rights
  4. Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  5. In Cooperation with the United Nations

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: A Change in the Process of Universalizing and Internationalizing Human Rights

An important change took place during the process by which the idea of rights became universal as well as international. Individual human rights as a political idea derives both conceptually and historically from Euro-American ideas, rooted in individual autonomy and supported by conceptions of popular sovereignty and social contract. The rights implied in those ideas were rights of autonomy and freedom, limitations on government, and immunities from undue and unreasonable exercises of authority.


Professor Louis Henkin
How are economic and social rights protected and ensured under international law?
n the nineteenth century, however, there began to grow another sense of right, rooted not in individual autonomy but in community, adding to liberty and equality the implications of fraternity. The various socialisms and the burgeoning welfare-state ideology began to accept a broader view of the obligations of society and the purposes of government. Those obligations entailed not only maintaining security and protecting life, liberty and property, but also guaranteeing and, if necessary, providing basic human needs.

What began in Europe crossed the Atlantic during the New Deal. In his Four Freedoms message, Franklin Roosevelt articulated this new conception, wrapped—perhaps disguised—in the language of freedom. He added the “freedom from want” to eighteenth century liberties. When, in the postwar years, individual rights became universal and international, they did so in their broader conception. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains not only rights to life, liberty and property, but also rights to social security, declaring in Article 22 that everyone is entitled to the realization of “economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality”. Specified, in addition, are the rights to work, to rest and leisure, to a standard of living adequate for health and well being, and to education.

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Peter Danchin, Columbia University