Monday, May 4, 2009

The Importance of Being Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt, the well known First Lady and wife of President Franklin Roosevelt, was one of the main American delegates to the UN who helped compile the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration was put forward by the United Nations in 1948, three years after the end of World War Two. It was also Eleanor Roosevelt who was one of the leaders of the United States Delegation for the committee on human rights and she was the one who prodded the committee to put forward a new formulation of the idea of human rights to the world, one that reflected the challenges of a world recently united by the struggle of a World War.

In a relatively new book entitled " A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," Mary Ann Glendon shows how it was the enthusiasm and commitment of Ms Roosevelt that helped to bring the early UN to a focus on human rights as the basis for a new world order. She helped to direct the human rights commission to agree upon a common formulation of human rights for all nations. She also encouraged the United States’ State Department to stand behind our principles of democracy and human dignity when those principles were questioned by some new nations. According to Ms Glendon, it was her good sense and idealism that made the committee work and it was her fame that helped to sucessfully publicized the Declaration of as a new Magna Carta for the twentieth century.

Eleanor Roosevelt was a world figure at the time, one of the few American women of stature who helped direct the political work of the New Deal, served the causes of civil rights, sought to improve conditions of the poor, and brought about agricultural reform. She worked both within and outside of government. She became a symbol after her husband’s death of the American ideals of democracy, human rights, and social welfare for the masses of people. She became most famous for advancing the cause of universal human rights within the United Nations and bringing a greater idealism to the purposes behind the world organization as it came upon the world stage to become the major player that it remains today.

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