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A Generational SplitEdit

The Cold War had a profound impact on the popular conceptions of human rights as they circulated around the world. Effectively, the Cold War competition between the Soviet Union and the United States polarized human rights supporters into two camps: those who supported first generation human rights and those who supported second generation human rights.

The socialist backers of the Soviet Union supported social justice in the name of equality, while the liberal backers of the United States supported individualism in the name of liberty.

Western Europe and North America wanted to define human rights in a strict political and civic sense--negative human rights like freedom of speech and property were paramount for these countries.

The Soviet Bloc and much of Latin America, Africa, and Southern Asia wanted to define human rights in a broader sense with respect to society and economics--in the eyes of these countries, citizens only had all of their human rights protected when they lived under a government which administered social welfare programs.

The Compromise and its LegacyEdit

These opposing views helped create the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document which combines the traditional Western concepts of negative rights with socialist positive rights.

Not surprisingly, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was not well-received everywhere-- it was too liberal for the socialists, and too socialist for the liberals.

However, regardless of its actual efficiency and authority with regard to international law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the subsequent Human Rights Commission have served as launchpads for hundreds of other human rights covenants and organizations. Keeping strong international concern for human rights alive may be the Universal Declaration of Human Rights's greatest legacy

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