The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

ACLU Marks 60th Anniversary Of Landmark Human Rights Document

New Administration Should Recommit To Principles Laid Out In The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, Says Group


the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(UDHR), the American Civil Liberties Union is calling on the incoming
Obama administration to recommit to the rights and principles laid out
in the document and use it as a guidepost for setting policy at home
and abroad. The UDHR was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly
on December 10, 1948 to codify the basic human rights of all people,
and is widely considered to be the founding document of the modern
human rights movement.

"The passage of the UDHR brought
worldwide awareness of the basic rights and protections all people
should enjoy," said Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU Human Rights
Program. "Sadly, eight years of disastrous policy by the Bush
administration have put the very rights embodied by the UDHR in
jeopardy. It is time to fix the damage that has been done and restore
our nation's commitment to upholding and protecting human rights."

Following the horrors of World War
II, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt,
devoted itself exclusively to drafting the UDHR. The document, which
was influenced by the U.S. Bill of Rights, contains 30 articles that
detail specific rights that belong to all human beings everywhere,
including civil and political rights as well as economic, social and
cultural rights.

"Despite the prominent role the
United States played in drafting the UDHR, we have failed to live up to
our commitment to human rights at home and abroad," said Dakwar.
"President-elect Obama and Congress can reestablish America as a leader
on human rights at home and abroad by making policies that reaffirm our
dedication to the principles laid out in the UDHR."

Tonight, Dakwar will moderate a
panel of U.S. human rights experts and advocates at the U.N. "Bringing
Human Rights Home: Opportunities for a New U.S. Administration" begins
at 5:30 p.m. at the United Nations Church Center in New York. In
addition, several ACLU affiliates around the country have planned
events to commemorate the anniversary. A full list of events is
available online at:

More information about the UDHR,
including a new publication by the ACLU, "Human Rights Begin at Home:
Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the UDHR," and a petition urging
Congress and President-elect Obama to recommit the U.S. to the
principles of the UDHR, is available online at:

Also today, the ACLU of
Massachusetts released a report on the human rights of immigrants. The
first-of-its-kind study details poor jail conditions, denial of medical
care and violations of due process against immigrants held for months
in detention centers without being accused of a crime. "Detention and
Deportation in the Age of Ice" is available online at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666