The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 75: Human Rights Challenges in the 21st Century

  • Location

    Black Box, Maison des Sciences Humaines (MSH), Belval Campus, 11, porte des Sciences

    4366, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg

  • Topic(s)
  • Type(s)
    In-person event


Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was inspired by the vision of ‘a world made anew’, repudiating the ‘barbarous acts which [had] outraged the conscience of humanity’ in the preceding decades and enunciating a broadly defined catalogue of political, social, and economic rights that would form the foundation of a new international order. The intervening decades have undoubtedly seen substantial progress in the protection and promotion of human rights, with a panoply of both international and regional instruments having been adopted. Yet, at the same time, the continued limits and shortcomings of the international system remain apparent. Egregious abuses of fundamental human rights continue to occur with no apparent effective means of intervention or remedy. The foundations of the system itself are moreover subject to increasing contestation in a climate of heightened geopolitical tensions and intensifying instances of military conflict.

Against this background, the present panel, organised under the auspices of the UNESCO Chair in Human Rights at the University of Luxembourg, seeks to take stock of the current situation as we mark the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the UDHR. Panelists will examine the contemporary geopolitics of human rights at the international level and the limits of and possibilities offered by the UN system, while also looking at how human rights may be promoted and (re)conceived at more local levels. Drawing on experiences from across academe, government, and civil society, we hope to connect different dimensions of human rights theory and practice in terms that underscore the enduring vitality of the principles embodied in the UDHR.


  • Professor Robert Harmsen, UNESCO Chair in Human Rights, University of Luxembourg
  • Fernanda Pérez, Interim Director, Amnesty International Luxembourg
  • Jean-Pierre Schmit, Bahá’í Community of Luxembourg
  • David Weis, Deputy Political Director and Director for Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Luxembourg

Sandwich lunch available from 12.00