Eleanor Roosevelt regarded the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as her greatest achievement. Mrs. Roosevelt, widow of the former US president and a lifelong human rights advocate, chaired the commission that drew up the text of the Universal Declaration, and was recognized as the driving force behind its adoption in Paris in December 1948.
The first meeting of the Commission on Human Rights, held at the UN’s interim headquarters in Lake Success, New York, in January 1947. Seated around the table (left to right): Eleanor Roosevelt of the US, Professor John P. Humphrey of Canada, Dr. Charles Malik of Lebanon, Charles Dukes of the UK, Valentin F. Topliakov of the USSR, General Carlos P. Romulo of the Philippine Republic.
Henri Laugier, Assistant UN Secretary-General, chats informally with Eleanor Roosevelt as they await the opening of the first session of the Commission on Human Rights, at the UN’s interim headquarters in Lake Success, New York, January 1947.
In June 1947, the eight-member Drafting Committee on the International Bill of Rights meets for the first time at Lake Success, New York. L-R: Colonel William Roy Hodgson (Australia), P.C. Chang (China), Henri Langier of the UN Department of Social Affairs, Eleanor Roosevelt (USA), Professor John Humphrey (Canada), Charles Malik (Lebanon), Professor Vladimor M. Koretsky (USSR), H.T. Morgan (UK).
Drafting Committee members Professor Vladimir M. Koretsky (USSR) (left) and Charles Malik (Lebanon) (right) greet each other before the Committee’s first meeting, Lake Success, New York, June 1947. Fellow delegates gave Dr. Malik credit for being a driving force behind the crafting of the Universal Declaration and for pushing through its adoption, together with Eleanor Roosevelt.
Drafting Committee Vice-Chairman P. C. Chang (China) (left), and Chairman Eleanor Roosevelt (USA) (centre), speaking before the start of the Committee’s first meeting, Lake Success, New York, June 1947. Delegates said Dr. Chang related Chinese conceptions of human rights to the Committee and introduced Confucian ideas to negotiate compromises between competing ideological factions.
Alexei Pavlov (USSR) (left) presents his country’s views to the Drafting Committee while Charles Malik (Lebanon) looks on. Lake Success, New York, June 1947.
UN Radio presenter Georges Day (left) interviews Drafting Committee members Eleanor Roosevelt (USA) and Professor René Cassin (France), for a French-language radio programme broadcast from Lake Success, New York, to France, June 1947. Dr. Cassin was one of the most influential members of the Committee, and composed the first full draft of the Universal Declaration.
Two representatives to the UN General Assembly, Ann Newlands (New Zealand) (second from left) and Marga Klompe (Netherlands) (right), explain to a group of young visitors the meaning of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights one month before it was adopted in December 1948. (November 1948, Palais de Chaillot, Paris, France)
United Nations International Nursery School children examine a poster of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at its second anniversary. (New York, December 1950)