The UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted 65 years ago paved the way for decades of progress. The picture of human rights today is hardly as encouraging. But changing norms takes time and doesn't follow a linear path. From this view, 2013 brought some notable advances.
Today marks the 65th anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the instrument that underlies all subsequent human rights treaties, covenants, and conventions. The UDHR was adopted in 1948, just three years after the end of the most genocidal war in modern history. Racial segregation was still the law in much of the United States; the Gulag prison system was active in the Soviet Union; apartheid reigned in South Africa, as we have been so poignantly reminded by the death of Nelson Mandela last week. By those standards human rights progress has been enormous in the past 65 years.