Soviet Union and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

19 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2017 Last revised: 15 Feb 2020

Date Written: April 12, 2017


This essay examines the Soviet role in the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drawing distinctions between the Soviet and the Western models of fundamental rights up to 1948, with the Soviet context put into perspective via a comprehensive historical review of its origins and development. Furthermore, the supposed characteristics of the Soviet concept of fundamental rights are applied to the 1948 debate, with Soviet speeches and proposals thoroughly examined from that standpoint. It is argued that the disagreement displayed between both sides of the negotiation stemmed from the Soviet understanding of human rights being more collectivist and focused on economic and social rights. Hence, the essay intends to challenge the common perception of the USSR as only being hostile to human rights and opens a conversation about firstly fundamental, and then human rights as diplomatic devices.

Keywords: human rights, USSR, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Suggested Citation

Lukina, Anna, Soviet Union and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (April 12, 2017). Max Planck Institute for European Legal History Research Paper Series No. 2017-01, Available at SSRN: or

Anna Lukina (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics