Human rights are rights one has simply because they are human. In international law, they are a set of universally recognized standards that cut across cultures, establishing a collective baseline for human treatment. More than six decades have passed since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. The Declaration was one of the first major human rights achievements of the United Nations and remains a powerful framework that continues to exert an enormous effect on people around the world.
It should also be acknowledged that the adoption of the Declaration stemmed in large part from the strong desire for peace in the aftermath of the Second World War. Although the fifty-eight Member States that formed the United Nations at that time varied in their ideologies, political systems and religious and cultural backgrounds, the UDHR represented a collective instrument of human rights goals and aspirations.
The UDHR is comprised of a broad range of rights, but it is not a legally binding treaty. Nevertheless, it has inspired more than sixty human rights instruments, which together constitute a binding international standard of human rights. The most fundamental of these instruments are included in the International Bill of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.