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Russia, Islam and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

UN Assembly session (24oct1948) that approved Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

UN Assembly session (24oct1948) that approved Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

(WASHINGTON/PRAGUE) On the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Robert Coalson writes that Russian critics consider it "aggressive colonialism and yet another attempt to impose 'Western' values on other cultures." [Read the full article]

In a special commentary titled "Everybody's Misery Matters," William Schulz, the former head of Amnesty International USA, notes that "dozens of states, from every religious and cultural tradition, have incorporated the principles of the UDHR into their national constitutions." He calls the declaration "a revolutionary document exactly because it is universal and thereby takes precedence over every political ideology and every parochial claim." [Read the full article]

RFE/RL's Jeffrey Donovan tells the story of Sabatina James, a 26 year-old Austrian of Pakistani heritage who, since converting to Christianity, "is at the center of a storm between Islam and international human rights law." Her case "dramatically illustrates Islam's growing challenge to the principles enshrined in the world's most translated document, including the freedom of thought, conscience, and worship -- and the right to change one's religion." [Read the full article]

And Radio Svoboda, RFE/RL's Russian service, interviewed former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky about the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, its role in the demise of the Soviet Union, and its potential to influence the situation in Russia.

"The fact that the declaration spawned numerous legal acts and international agreements...has given this document moral authority," he said. "Since its articles have come to be considered the norm, nobody is able to ignore them. Even the Soviet Union pretended to respect these norms. Although, of course, it violated them massively on a daily basis." [More in Russian or English]