Who is to enforce the Charter of the United Nations and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights ? The governments or the citizens of the member countries?

  • Which UN treaty?
    – feetwet
    Mar 5, 2018 at 13:40
  • "supposed to" is a question about intent and the political reasons, not about facts or the legal process of enforcement.
    – user4657
    Mar 5, 2018 at 18:43

1 Answer 1


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is generally a non-self-executing document which sets aspirational standards for member governments to adopt in the conduct of their affairs. Any enforcement is through the adoption of compliance constitutional and statutory provisions in the domestic law of a member nation and there is really no other way to enforce it. It may also inspire political action by citizens (or even a revolution) in cases where a member government does not comply, but those citizens receive no legal protections simply because they justify their actions in this manner.

An answer with respect to the U.S. situation in particular can be found here.

The Charter of the United Nations is enforced by the UN bureaucracy and UN representatives from various member nations in the conduct of the business of the United Nations.

  • Actually, it does not set standards for just member governments. That is a core reason why it's considered a Declaration - it is believed to state Human Rights so fundamental that they exist not by agreement but as a consequence of natural law.
    – MSalters
    Mar 7, 2018 at 0:36
  • @MSalters The question is enforcement and there there is no enforcement of the UDHR in non-member states, except in cases where the rights are honored but not because they are in the UDHR.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 7, 2018 at 4:51
  • I would add my basic concern, although no enforcement means "we cannot care less". Who is to respect a treaty, the people of a signatory state or the government?
    – KMax
    Mar 12, 2018 at 17:06
  • @KMax Governments are capable of protecting rights, although they do not always do so, and are always the parties to treaties. "The people" act only through government or organized action coordinated by NGOs are are almost para-governments. They cannot enter into treaties.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 12, 2018 at 18:21

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