What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

Published: 19 October 2018

Last updated: 19 November 2018

What countries does this apply to?

  • England
  • Scotland
  • Wales

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a historic document which outlined the rights and freedoms everyone is entitled to.

It was the first international agreement on the basic principles of human rights. 

It laid the foundation for the human rights protections that we have in the UK today. 

It formed the basis of the European Convention on Human Rights, which in turn was incorporated in UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998.

Worldwide influence

Nearly every state in the world has accepted the Declaration.

It has inspired more than 80 international conventions and treaties, as well as numerous regional conventions and domestic laws.

It has been the catalyst for improving human rights protections for groups such as disabled people, indigenous peoples and women.

It has been translated into more than 360 languages.

International Bill of Human Rights

The International Bill of Human Rights is an informal name given to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights along with the following UN human rights treaties:

Human rights tracker: one of our main jobs is to make sure the UK complies with UN treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. 

Find out more about how we examine the government's performance against UN human rights treaties.

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