Students explore drafting, merits of human rights declaration in documentary screening

Rawan Damen, a Palestinian filmmaker and media consultant, discussed her experiences while creating “The Declaration,” a 27-minute documentary that focuses on the birth of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, at a screening of the film organized by the Muwatin Institute for Democracy and Human Rights on Saturday, April 20, 2019. 

Before the screening, Damen − who is teaching an intensive, two-week course on media and storytelling at Birzeit University − clarified that the film centers around the negotiations and consultations that took place during the three-year period that preceded the declaration’s formal adoption at the 183rd session of the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948. 

“While researching UN General Assembly meeting records in the years leading up to the adoption of the declaration, I noticed that many of the main articles were directly drafted or influenced by representatives of Global South countries,” Damen pointed out. “This is contrary to the notion that the document was written by and for countries of the Global North,” she explained, noting that the film attempts to highlight the efforts of the world’s countries to secure the rights and future of humanity’s next generation. 

Mudar Kassis, director of Muwatin, led a discussion on the drafting of the document after the screening, touching on the question whether the declaration still serves its purpose more than 70 years after its inception.