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December 10 marks the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since 1948, the idea embodied in that document helped accelerate the independence movements in the developing world and triggered the civil rights revolution in the Western world. It provided legitimacy for the struggle against tyranny all over the world and played a crucial role in bringing down communism. Not a bad record for one idea. Only the concept of individual liberty at the end of the 18th century and of equality 100 years later have exerted a comparable impact on mankind. And whereas the political application of the...

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