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From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, through the adoption of the International Covenants on Human Rights in 1966, and to the Proclamation of Teheran in 1968, the human rights program under the auspices of the United Nations has represented a tremendous collective effort and symbolized the common aspirations of mankind for increasing the protection of all basic human values. This program, as greatly agitated and accelerated by the process of postwar decolonization and the rapid emergence and multiplication of newly independent states, has burgeoned far beyond the contemplation of the founding fathers of the United Nations.
Yet, few tasks confronting the world community today remain more vital to its future than the defense and fulfillment of the basic values of the individual human being. Despite recurrent syndromes of national and ethnic parochialism, the vast majority of the peoples of the world continue to demand for themselves, and to acknowledge for others, certain fundamental rights to the minimum conditions of a dignified human existence. Deprivations of human rights visited upon one individual or group are increasingly perceived to be a personal deprivation for any observer and a potential threat to all freedom. Indeed, the knowledge is now pervasive that no people can really be secure in basic rights unless all peoples are secure.
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