Three waves of human rights expansion can be identified: First Wave: It took two world wars to make any real progresson human rights
Important precursors to what the future of human rights would be came in 1941 when Franklin Roosevelt (FDR) made his famous FOUR freedoms speech: freedom of speech, of religion, from want and from fear.
However, during WWII, these ideas were largely forgotten to secure victory over Germany and Japan—FDR, and subsequently, Truman, tried to pay attention to human rights issues from both a normative as from a realist viewpoint—what they were concerned with was stability or absence of major conflicts in the international system—they wanted to make sure that ...view middle of the document...
Second Wave: Between the 1940s to the 1960s, the international human rights regime only inched forward, since the great powers were completely preoccupied with the Cold War—the 2nd wave of human rights activity began in the 1960s when negotiations for 2 other treaties was completed:
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Together with the Universal Declaration, these constitute the International Bill of Rights. The two above-mentioned treaties only came into effect during the 1970s with the approval of UN member states.
Slow progress between the 1st and the 2nd wave:
1. Cold War - all great powers, especially the US and the Soviets had their own interests and the interests of their allies in mind;
2. US Executive faced a hostile Congress unwilling to push ahead on many human rights issues - without the full support of the most powerful state in the world, inevitable that human rights regime did not go far;
3. The number of UN member states increased exponentially with the independence of many former colonial states—North vs South confrontations were natural—there was obvious mistrust of Western states and their imperialistic designs—also, with the increased number of member states, finding common ground became even more complicated.