Research Guides United Nations Office at Geneva Library

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

History of the UDHR

Background information

For a detailed historical background of the drafting of the Declaration, consult the volumes of the "Yearbook of the United Nations" for 1947-1948 and 1948-1949. 

See extracts in the pdf files below.

Additional volumes of the Yearbook can be consulted online.

Early Version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

UDHR draft

 (UN Photo/Greg Kinch)

Early Drafts of a Declaration

Compilation of early drafts

Documents without a link to the pdf version can be consulted at UNOG Library. Please contact us:

(source: Yearbook of the United Nations, 1948-1949).

UN Website on the Drafting Process


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: an historical record of the drafting process

This site provides access to the most relevant UN documents related to the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted by the General Assembly on 10 December 1948). Documents included were digitized by the Dag Hammarskjöld Library (UN, New York) and UNOG Library (UN, Geneva). 

Additionally, UNOG Library offers to researchers an exhaustive collection of UN official documents - in print - illustrating the drafting history of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Documents are kept in all languages received and can be consulted on site. 

Users wishing to consult this material are invited to contact the UNOG Library: or Dag Hammarskjöld Library (UN, New York):

Original Drafting Materials from UNOG Archives

On the occasion of Human Rights Day, the UNOG Archives have completed a digitization project that provides online access to 35 files containing several thousand pages of original and unique materials related to the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This material includes drafts of the Declaration, comments from governments, organizations and the general public, and material related to the implementation of the Declaration. Original documents from René Cassin and Eleonor Roosevelt are included in these invaluable records.

To access the documents, please visit the Archives Catalogue and navigate to the files below the series provided by clicking “Localize in archive plan” on the left. PDF files are available in the Files field of the Detail View.

Researchers can contact the Archives at with any questions or concerning any other topics of interest in the UNOG Archives.

Letter F.D. Roosevelt (UNOG Archives)Letter from René Cassin (UNOG Archives)

Drafting Materials from UNOG Archives

The UNOG Archives maintains records related to the draftng of the Declaration and the covenants which are accessible to the public and available in digitized form.

Researchers may consult these records online via the UNOG Archives catalogue (navigate to the files below the series provided), or can contact the archivists directly for on-site research at: On-site research services are located in the Palais des Nations (Geneva, Switzerland).

The UN Archives in New York (ARMS) also hold records related to the drafting of the Declaration. Researchers can search their catalogue and find their contact details in their official website:

The drafters of the UDHR

The Drafting Committee members:

Alexandre Bogomolov (USSR), René Cassin (France), Dr. Peng-chun Chang (China), Charles Dukes (United Kingdom), William Hodgson (Australia), John P. Humphrey (Canada), Dr. Charles Malik (Lebanon), Eleanor Roosevelt (US) and Hernan Santa Cruz (Chile)

Biographies of certain members can be found in Columbia University web site.

View photos of the UDHR Drafting Committee members: