The United Nations General Assembly adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, intended as “as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.” It consists of a preamble and 30 articles setting forth the basic civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights and fundamental freedoms that all human beings in every country should enjoy. The declaration’s provisions are considered to carry the weight of international law because they are so widely accepted and used as a yardstick for measuring the conduct of states.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the declaration, UNESCO struck a commemorative medal in 1988. Designed by the French sculptor Albert Féraud, the obverse features a stylized representation of a man and woman riding on a flying carpet comprising two parallel bars, the symbol of equality. The words Déclaration universelle des droits de l’homme (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) are inscribed on the edge. The reverse bears a stylized flame with the first sentence of the declaration’s Article 1: Tous les êtres humains naissent libres et égaux en dignité et en droits. (All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.)

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