Eleanor Roosevelt as the First Lady and as a United Nations delegate

Last Updated: 27 Feb 2023
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While Eleanor Roosevelt is often credited for her leading role as Chairperson of the drafting committee of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it's important to acknowledge that other women also played crucial roles in shaping the document. In fact, several women made significant contributions to ensure that women's rights were included in the Universal Declaration. Here, we highlight some of these women and their contributions to this historic document.

Eleanor Roosevelt, who served as the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945, was appointed by President Harry S. Truman in 1946 as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. She played a pivotal role in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and served as the first Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights.

President Harry Truman appointed Roosevelt as a delegate to the United Nations in 1946, following the death of her husband, Franklin Roosevelt, in 1945. In her capacity as the chair of the Human Rights Commission, she played a key role in shaping the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She presented the document to the United Nations General Assembly and delivered the following statement:

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“We stand today at the threshold of a great event both in the life of the United Nations and in the life of mankind. This declaration may well become the international Magna Carta for all men everywhere.”

President Truman referred to Eleanor Roosevelt as the "First Lady of the World" due to her extensive philanthropic endeavors, and she continued advocating for the acceptance and enforcement of the human rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights until the end of her life. Her contributions have had a lasting impact and can be observed in the constitutions of numerous nations, as well as in the development of international law that safeguards the rights of individuals worldwide.

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right—for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

During a period marked by growing East-West tensions, Eleanor Roosevelt utilized her vast influence and credibility with both superpowers to navigate the drafting process to its successful conclusion. In recognition of her contributions, she was posthumously honored with the United Nations Human Rights Prize in 1968.

At the time that Franklin D. Roosevelt became president of the United States in 1933, the First Lady was merely a titular role and had nothing to do with politics or the presidential status. This changed when Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband moved into the White House and she started taking a more active role in politics and advising her husband while maintaining her long-found autonomy.

She would travel around the country visiting different schools and institutions and then relating the information she gathered back to her husband and try to find a solution the problems she encountered, such as extreme poverty, economic failure and lacking public school programs.

She was a courageous advocate for women’s and African American rights and encouraged her husband to provide more jobs for women in the federal and defense sections. Through her work as First Lady, she set the precedent for future of future First Ladies to be active in solving real-world issues, give their opinion and be heard, and to make a real difference on American society.

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Eleanor Roosevelt as the First Lady and as a United Nations delegate. (2023, Feb 25). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/eleanor-roosevelt-as-the-first-lady-and-as-a-united-nations-delegate/

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