Drafting History

  1. Drafting History - Introduction
  2. Overview of Process and Key Documents
  3. Accounts of Drafting Process
  4. First Session of the Human Rights Commission
  5. First Session of the Drafting Committee
  6. Second Session of the Human Rights Commission
  7. Second Session of the Drafting Committee
  8. Third Session of the Human Rights Committee
  9. Third Committee of the General Assembly
  10. Plenary Session of the Third General Assembly Session
  11. Reference

The meetings of the Third (Social and Humanitarian) Committee of the General Assembly were held from September to December 1948. Besides the Humphrey survey of constitutions and the input received when the draft was submitted to the governments for feedback, these Third Committee meetings presented a third opportunity for nations that had no representation on the eighteen-member Human Rights Commission to have their say. Even though the Declaration had cleared the Second and Third Sessions of the Commission with impressive votes, this Committee scrutinized the entire document.

After the Commission and its drafting subsidiary had already devoted five lengthy sessions over a period of almost two years to the drafting of this document, the delegates of the Third Committee held eighty-five more meetings, not counting the twenty meetings of the various subcommittees. Malik, the delegate from Lebanon who had been the chair of the Third Committee, reported to the General Assembly on the wide support the document had received in his committee. “Of the 1,233 individual votes cast,” he said, “88.08 per cent had been affirmative and 3.73 negative.” Eighteen of the articles had been adopted “without any opposition” (GA, at 860). This Third Committee adopted the Declaration with a vote of twenty nine to zero, with seven abstentions (GA, at 860).

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Peter Danchin, Columbia University