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The Founding of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is generally agreed to be the foundation of international human rights law. The core principles of human rights first set out in the UDHR, such as universality, interdependence and indivisibility, equality and non-discrimination, and that human rights simultaneously entail both rights and obligations from duty bearers and rights owners, have been reiterated in numerous international human rights conventions, declarations, and resolutions.

The Universal Declaration is not a treaty, so it does not directly create legal obligations for countries. However, it displays the fundamental values shared by all members of the international community.[1]

The Declaration has significant influence on the development of international human rights law and could be argued in some cases that by adhering to the Declaration for so long that is has actually become binding as a part of customary international law.

The Universal Declaration has given rise to other international agreements which are legally binding on the countries that ratify them, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

[1] Australian Human Rights Commission, What is the Universal Declaration on Human Rights?,, viewed 18 August 2015

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