On December 10, the U.S. Institute of Peace joins the world in commemorating the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an historic achievement affirming every person’s right to dignity, justice and peace.

Eleanor Roosevelt holding Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been the global foundation for human rights for 70 years,” said the U.S. Institute of Peace’s president, Nancy Lindborg. “The Institute’s work is driven by a commitment to upholding those rights by building peace.”

The inextricable link between human rights and peace is the theme of the 70th anniversary commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “There is more to achieving peace than laying down weapons. True peace requires standing up for the human rights of all the world’s people,” said António Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general. “Let us stand up for human rights for all, in the name of peace for all.”

‘A Magna Carta for Mankind’

The declaration emerged from the horrors of World War II, which resulted in over 65 million deaths. A groundbreaking document, the declaration universalized human rights and internationalized responsibility for protecting those rights. Eleanor Roosevelt, who led the effort to have the Universal Declaration ratified at the U.N., called it a “Magna Carta for mankind.” Written as an aspirational document, today the Universal Declaration is recognized as the global standard.

In some of the world’s deadliest places, human rights abuses spur violent conflict. Violent conflicts cause unacceptable levels of civilian casualties, atrocities and abuses in fragile states.

Effective protection of human rights underpins the legitimate governance and rule of law that establish the conditions for a state to resolve conflicts and grievances without violence. The most unequal societies are often the most violent. Weak institutions, rampant corruption, and high levels of exclusion fuel insecurity and damage communities and economies. More than half of the world’s poorest people are projected to live in fragile states by 2030.

The challenges posed today by fragile states and a rise in autocratic states reinforce the relevance of the Universal Declaration 70 years later.

USIP and Human Rights

USIP provides grants, fellowships, education and publications to deepen understanding of the critical role of human rights protection in preventing and managing violence. As the Institute’s global team works with governments, civil society and faith leaders, women and youth to prevent and reduce violent conflict, we are guided above all by the belief that every person in every place deserves the opportunity to live in peace.

Related News

USIP’s Aly Verjee Awarded the 2019 Oslo Forum Peacewriter Prize

Thursday, August 8, 2019

News Type: Announcement

The U.S. Institute of Peace congratulates our Aly Verjee on being awarded the 2019 Oslo Forum Peacewriter Prize, which recognizes “bold and innovative responses to today’s peacemaking challenges,” for his essay on addressing the increasing challenges of cease-fire monitoring.

William and Pascale Warda Awarded Inaugural International Religious Freedom Award

William and Pascale Warda Awarded Inaugural International Religious Freedom Award

Thursday, July 18, 2019

News Type: Announcement

USIP congratulates our longtime partners, Pascale and William Warda, for being awarded the State Department’s inaugural International Religious Freedom Award. They have been deeply involved in advocating for the rights of religious minorities, particularly Christians, in northern Iraq in the face of regional instability and the ISIS occupation.


In Memoriam: Ambassador John W. McDonald

In Memoriam: Ambassador John W. McDonald

Thursday, May 30, 2019

News Type: Announcement

USIP mourns the passing of Ambassador John McDonald, a longtime American diplomat and international development and peacebuilding expert. A nominee for the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, McDonald founded the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD) and helped lead efforts to establish the Pakistan-India Kartarpur Peace Corridor.

View All News