In December 1948, following years of war and violence of previously unimaginable proportions, the world came together in Paris, where the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Under the driving force of the formidable Eleanor Roosevelt--widow of former President of the United States of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt--this Declaration complemented the relatively new Charter of the United Nations and guaranteed the rights of all individuals everywhere.
As the United Nations celebrates its 70th anniversary and we reflect on its associated impact, we would be remiss to not consider the power of this singular moment in 1948. Just years after the creation of the United Nations itself, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights capitalized on one of the darkest periods of our global history and unified the world around a commitment to certain universal human rights and placed people at the very centre of the narrative. With its adoption, leaders made a resounding vow to protect all people from atrocities such as those seen during the Second World War.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has provided an influential reference point for development discussions across the board--from security and conflict prevention and resolution, to health, trade and the ongoing dialogue on climate change. Although it has protected hundreds of thousands from danger and violence, too often its core tenets are overlooked and people continue to be left behind.
In 2000, the world's leaders once again came together, with a focused determination to eradicate disease and poverty through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed upon by all the Member States of the United Nations. In 2015, as their deadline looms, global poverty continues to decline, more children than ever are attending primary school, child deaths have dropped dramatically and targeted investments in health have saved millions. Since 2001, more than 4 million lives have been saved from malaria alone, and under-five mortality is decreasing faster than at any time in the past two decades.
Our collective efforts are working, but as we transition to an ambitious set of sustainable development goals (SDGs) that will guide our actions through 2030, we must revisit the spirit of Ms. Roosevelt's conviction to ensure that we enlist a truly people-centred approach to continue achieving progress against some of our most pressing challenges and deliver on...