"First Lady of the World"

The Preservation of Human Rights

"...liberty, equality, fraternity..."

"I have come this evening to talk with you on one of the greatest issues of our time—that is the preservation of human freedom. I have chosen to discuss it here in France, at the Sorbonne, because here in this soil the roots of human freedom have long ago struck deep and here they have been richly nourished. It was here the Declaration of the Rights of Man was proclaimed, and the great slogans of the French Revolution--liberty, equality, fraternity--fired the imagination of men. I have chosen to discuss this issue in Europe because this has been the scene of the greatest historic battles between freedom and tyranny. I have chosen to discuss it in the early days of the General Assembly because the issue of human liberty is decisive for the settlement of outstanding political differences and for the future of the United Nations."

Editor's Note: On February 16, 1946, the United Nations established a Human Rights Commission to assist the victims of World War II. The committee's mission was to formulate a document that would help prevent future wars, and establish an international standard of how nations interact. As chair, Roosevelt played a pivotal role in the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948.