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In addition to the covenants in the International Bill of Human Rights, the United Nations has adopted more than 20 principal treaties further elaborating human rights.These include conventions to prevent and prohibit specific abuses like torture and genocide and to protect especially vulnerable populations, such as refugees (Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951), women (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979), and children (Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989).The essence of these emerging human rights principles was captured in President Franklin Delano Roosevelts 1941 State of the Union Address when he spoke of a world founded on four essential freedoms: freedom of speech and religion and freedom from want and fear (See Using Human Rights Here & Now).
The belief that everyone, by virtue of her or his humanity, is entitled to certain human rights is fairly new.
Its roots, however, lie in earlier tradition and documents of many cultures; it took the catalyst of World War II to propel human rights onto the global stage and into the global conscience.
The ICCPR focuses on such issues as the right to life, freedom of speech, religion, and voting.
The ICESCR focuses on such issues as food, education, health, and shelter.
These voices played a critical role in the San Francisco meeting that drafted the United Nations Charter in 1945.
of the United Nations pledged to promote respect for the human rights of all.
Concern over the protection of certain minority groups was raised by the League of Nations at the end of the First World War.
However, this organization for international peace and cooperation, created by the victorious European allies, never achieved its goals.
Both covenants trumpet the extension of rights to all persons and prohibit discrimination.
As of 1997, over 130 nations have ratified these covenants.