Building peace in the minds of men and women

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Human Rights in the UNESCO Courier

Of all the specialized agencies of the United Nations, none is more essentially concerned than UNESCO with the maintenance and development of human rights. The very terms of UNESCO's Constitution impose on the Organization the duty or fighting against the agents of discord and war through education, science and culture and modern means of communication. The Organization's final aim is to help maintain peace and human happiness. Now what can threaten human rights more directly than war and warlike tendencies? Or, on the other hand, what can be a stronger force for peace than the unhampered development of every nation and every man? The maintenance or peace and the advancement of human happiness are therefore two tasks indissolubly linked, always to be considered together; they are in fact two aspects of the same ideal ‒ the attainment of human rights. 

In 1947 and 1948, UNESCO made a remarkable intervention into the emerging field of human rights during the transitional period leading up to the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. The Organization decided to conduct a global survey among a diverse group of intellectuals, political leaders, theologians, social activists and others, in order to discover the universal “principles on which might be founded a modern declaration of the Rights of Man.”

Learn more about this unprecedented initiative in our October-December 2018 issue: Human rights: Back to the Future. Discover also the supplement: The Book of Needs

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