Jacob Mchangama in Persuasion:
In 1950, Eleanor Roosevelt, serving as the first Chairperson of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, was involved in a bitter dispute about the limits of free speech. Stalin’s Soviet Union fought tooth and nail to ensure that states should not only be permitted, but obliged to prohibit “hate speech” under international human rights law. Roosevelt issued a stark warning, as she found the Soviet proposal “extremely dangerous.” It would “only encourage Governments to punish all criticisms in the name of protection against religious or national hostility,” and she warned the commission “not to include… any provision likely to be exploited by totalitarian States for the purpose of rendering the other articles null and void.”
Fast forward to July 12, 2023, and a majority of the United Nations Human Rights Council proved Roosevelt prophetic. It did so by adopting a resolution that drives a stake through Roosevelt’s vision of an international human rights system that protects oppressed citizens against their oppressive governments.