Founding of the United Nations and the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In 1945, China – then the Republic of China – was one of 50 countries to send representatives to San Francisco, where they proceeded to draft the UN Charter and helped pave the way for the creation of the United Nations as we now know it. The inclusion of human rights in the UN Charter – the founding document of the UN that codifies the major principles of international relations – was supported by academics and members of the Chinese delegation, Zhang Junmai (1886–1969) and Luo Longji (1898–1965). The United Nations officially came into existence on 24 October 1945 after its Charter was ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and a majority of other signatories. In addition to China’s role as an original member of the United Nations, it was also deeply involved in the creation of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. One of the authors of that landmark text was Chinese academic and diplomat Peng Chun Chang (1892–1957), who also served as vice-chair of the Declaration’s eight-person drafting committee.

From this, it is clear that China played an active role in shaping the modern concept of human rights and the legally binding commitment to universal respect for human rights as enshrined in the UN Charter.