Nicholas Wolterstorff talks about the silence underlying the UDHR.
So the striking feature of all the UN declarations – the original one and then the later ones on social rights and so forth – the striking feature of all of them is that they ground human rights in dignity. An equally striking feature is that they don’t explain why human beings have this dignity that gives them these rights.
We know pretty much why they’re silent on that score. The conferences that led to the initial ’48 declaration had discussions about what would account for a ground as dignity – and remember people from around the world, there were Christians and Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and so forth, found that they could not agree on a statement and so they did the wise thing, they just left it there as grounded in human dignity.
But the very fact that they discussed the question indicates that most of us would want to have some understanding of why we human beings have this dignity that gives us this this array of rights. And so that has led to … those initial discussions have in effect spurred subsequent discussions about how you explain the fact that we have these, that we have the dignity that grounds these rights.