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A Universal Revolution

NEW YORK – The most important contribution of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly 60 years ago, on December 10, 1948, was to assert a powerful idea: rights are universal. Rights do not depend on membership of a particular community or citizenship in a certain state. They do not derive from a social contract.

Rather, because rights are universal, they are attributes of all human beings. Indeed, they are part of what makes us human. Each of us may enjoy rights. Those who exercise power may do so only in limited ways. The limits are set by rights.