Research Guides United Nations Office at Geneva Library

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Drafting Process of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

This guide 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 the United Nations Library at Geneva. 

Additionally, the UN Library at Geneva 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 UN Library at Geneva: library-gva@un.org or the Dag Hammarskjöld Library (UN, New York): library-ny@un.org.

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 above). 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: library-gva@un.org

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

Drafting Materials from UN Archives at Geneva

The UN Archives at Geneva maintains records related to the drafting of the Declaration and the covenants which are accessible to the public and available in digitized form. They provide 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 archivists directly for on-site research at: archives@un.org. On-site research services are located in the Palais des Nations (Geneva, Switzerland).

Drafting materials from the UN Archives in New York

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

Visit also UN ARMS online exhibition on The Universal Declaration on Human Rights is 70: https://archives.un.org/content/universal-declaration-human-rights.

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)
  • Hernan Santa Cruz (Chile)

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