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A non-prioritized collection of virtually all the human rights claims that up to 1948 had been directed against governments around the world, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not, by itself, international law. Being only a resolution of the UN General Assembly, and not submitted for signature and ratification by member governments, the Universal Declaration is more of a mutual admonition to promote the enumerated human rights rather than a formal obligation to do so. Even so, as pointed out by the United Nations Secretary General in his 1971 Survey of International Law,
During the years since its adoption the Declaration has come... to have a marked impact on the pattern and content of interna- tional law and to acquire a status extending beyond that originally intended for it. In general, two elements may be distinguished in this process: First, the use of the Declaration as a yardstick by which to measure the content and standard of observance of human rights; and, second, the reaffirmation of the Declaration and its provisions in a series of other instruments. These two elements...have caused the Declaration to gain a cumulative effect.