League of Women Voters

and the United Nations

 
 
In this photo, Eleanor Roosevelt and President Harry Truman hold the UN flag at the White House. The White House photographer took this photo on September 7, 1950.

In this photo, Eleanor Roosevelt and President Harry Truman hold the UN flag at the White House. The White House photographer took this photo on September 7, 1950.

LWV and the United Nations

History

LWV campaigned to establish a United Nations and continues its engagement with the UN through its UN Observers. Read more about LWV’s history with the United Nations.

The League’s Position on the United Nations

In brief: Support a strong, effective United Nations to promote international peace and security and to address the social, economic and humanitarian needs of all people

The League of Women Voters of the United States supports a strong, effective United Nations and endorses the full and active participation of the United States in the UN system. The League supports UN efforts to:

  • promote international peace and security;

  • advance the social and economic well-being of the world’s people;

  • ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;

  • foster trust and cooperation among nations by encouraging adherence to conventions, treaties, and other international agreements;

  • protect the integrity of the world environment;

  • achieve the full and equal participation of women in all aspects of civil and political life.

Policy

LWV is disappointed by U.S. decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council. Read the letter from LWVUS Chris Carson.

Impact on Issues

Impact on Issues is an indispensable resource for League members. A clear understanding of LWVUS positions, how they interrelate, and how they can complement and reinforce state, local, and regional Inter-League Organization (ILO) positions, strengthens the League’s impact on issues at all levels of government.

Read the 2018 to 2020 Impact on Issues.

LWV and Human Rights

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' annual report 2018 highlighted the important work performed by civil society organizations, like the LWV, in the implementation of human rights worldwide.

“A sphere within a sphere” by Arnaldo Pomodoro, is situated in the Visitor's Plaza at UN headquarters in New York City.

“A sphere within a sphere” by Arnaldo Pomodoro, is situated in the Visitor's Plaza at UN headquarters in New York City.

United Nations Human Rights’ Treaties and Conventions

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is the first United Nations convention to set forth aspirational goals for universal and inalienable rights and freedoms afforded to human beings.     

It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It is one of the most impactful documents ever written, and women took a leading role in drafting the convention.  The convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948.  This day is celebrated yearly as Human Rights Day. 

Read the entire article here, which is the first in a series of monthly reviews of United Nations’ Human Rights Conventions.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)  was adopted by the UN General Assembly in March 1966, nearly 20 years after the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Twenty years may seem like a long time but the wait was worth it.  The ICCPR went a long way toward strengthening the international human rights movement because it operationalized the philosophies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The ICCPR intends that political and civil rights will be respected strictly and without any reservations by the Member States.  The Preamble to the treaty sets forth the ideal of human beings living free and enjoying civil and political rights.  The ICCPR includes rights found in the USA Bill of Rights and French Declaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen. The first couple Articles of the treaty highlight the foundational principles that free people have the right of self-determination and entitlement to human rights without regard for any distinction such as race, color, sex, language, political opinion, national origin, etc.  http://legal.un.org/avl/ha/iccpr/iccpr.html  

INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS (ICESCR)

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights makes up the final piece of the International Bill of Human Rights. The other two pieces, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, are reviewed above in this column. ICESCR was adopted by the United Nations in 1966. The human rights set forth in ICESCR include labor rights, the rights to health, education, housing, food, water, social security and the right to an adequate standard of living. More coming soon…

CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN

 The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is a comprehensive international covenant on women’s political, civil, cultural, economic and social rights.  It was adopted by the United Nations in 1979 and is often called the Bill of Rights for women. To read more click here and find out what the overwhelming majority of nations adopt as human rights principles for women.  Then, start the discussion about the reasons behind the USA’s failure to ratify the treaty. Read more here.

CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is the first comprehensive United Nations human rights treaty of the 21st century.  This convention reaffirms that all persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms, not the least of which is the right to equal participation in political and public life.   Read more here.

UN CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD (CRC)

The CRC promotes children's rights to participate in decisions affecting them, provides assistance for children's basic needs, protects children against discrimination and all forms of neglect and exploitation and strives to prevent harm to children (the 4 P's) Read more…

UN PRINCIPLES FOR OLDER PERSONS

The United Nations Principles for Older Persons encourage governments to implement and monitor measures that protect, respect and fulfill the human rights of older persons. At the present time this principle is an aspiration-a goal that has yet to gain traction as a human rights convention. Read More...



“Golden Rule,” a mosaic of Murano glass tile, is a representation of the Norman Rockwell painting by the same name. The mosaic is located on the 3rd floor at UN headquarters in New York City.

“Golden Rule,” a mosaic of Murano glass tile, is a representation of the Norman Rockwell painting by the same name. The mosaic is located on the 3rd floor at UN headquarters in New York City.

International Human Rights Cases

Voting Rights are Human Rights

Fiona Given vs. Australia, (2018) This case decision upheld the human right of an Australian citizen with physical disabilities to cast a private ballot in a federal election.[i]

Context:  This case was decided by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The Committee is composed of a body of experts who monitor the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  The Convention was adopted by the UN in 2006 and became the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century.   The Committee examines individual complaints alleging violations of the CRPD. This case arose in Australia which did ratify the CRPD and consented to be bound by the convention.[ii] 

Read the entire case study here.