Documents proclaiming human rights date back to as early as 539 BC under Cyrus the Great in ancient Persia. Upon conquering Babylon,  he chose to free the city’s slaves instead of continuing to exploit them. Alongside this, he let the citizens choose their own religion–a big step forward 2500 years ago.

The UNs declaration of Human Rights draws from many important historical sources.

Some of these documents and their locations and dates are listed below:

The Magna Carta (France, 1215) Ensured that the king was subject to his own laws and gave basic rights to his subjects.

The Petition of Rights (England, 1628) Limited the monarch’s power over his subjects–ensured a few basic human rights for the subject.

The Declaration of Independence (United States, 1776) Espoused one’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (Revolutionary France, 1789) Proclaimed that all citizens are equal under the law.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN, 1948) Listed the 30 human rights we are all entitled to.

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