The United Nations General Assembly approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Dec. 10, 1948, without a single dissenting vote (although Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the Soviet bloc countries abstained). Today that remarkable consensus, achieved in the wake of two world wars and unspeakable atrocities, is falling apart. Hope for global consensus on anything seems remote.
But is it really the case that consensus on the relatively small set of fundamental principles in the Universal Declaration can’t be reinvigorated? The history of the declaration suggests three reasons why the effort is worthwhile. And a promising development, as yet little noticed in the West, indicates there may be a fourth.
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