Monday, 9 September 2013

Human Rights Declaration of London International Assembly

This item is for those who are interested in the history of international human rights law. A few days ago, while researching a talk on the beginnings of international criminal prosecutions during the Second World War in the archives of the London International Assembly, I stumbled upon an early attempt at codifying human rights. Several writers and organisations had prepared draft declarations and these were consulted by the Commission on Human Rights in preparation of the first draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see UN Doc. E/CN.4/W.16). I was surprised to note that the text of the London International Assembly does not appear to have attracted the attention of the Commission on Human Rights. It is not mentioned in UN Doc. E/CN.4/W.16. Nor have I found any references to it in the scholarly writing on the preparation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The London International Assembly was a civil society organisation with broad representation of government representatives at the highest levels or people close to government as well as public intellectuals and academics that met in London starting in 1941 with the goal of reaching consensus on what the post-war world would look like. One of its commissions studied issues of international criminal law, preparing a draft statute for an international criminal court that was then fed the work of the United Nations War Crimes Commission.
The human rights work that it undertook seems to have escaped attention. Here is the document.
If readers of the blog can shed any more light on this, please write.

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