Building peace in the minds of men and women

The Threat to privacy: 25th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in Paris in 1948. In January 1973, the Secretary-General of the United Nations presented to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights the results of a global inquiry on "Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Development". The inquiry was carried out in response to a request from the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1968, following concern on this subject expressed at the International Conference on Human Rights meeting in Teheran earlier that year. "While recent scientific development and technological advances have opened vast prospects for economic, cultural and social progress", the Teheran conference said, "such developments may nevertheless endanger the rights and freedoms of individuals and will require continuing attention." The protection of privacy in the face of threats posed by modern technology has also preoccupied Unesco for many years. Unesco's General Conference examined the problem in 1968 and Unesco has since carried out a series of international inquiries and studies in this field. On the following pages we reproduce salient passages from the Secretary-General's report to the UN Commission on Human Rights (pages 4-15) as well as from a recent Unesco study on the Right to Privacy (page 16).

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July 1973