The Spanish masters : the 16th century presence in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted in 1948 as a response to the atrocities of the Second World War. This analysis seeks to trace the influence of three Spanish masters of the 16th century, Las Casas, Vitoria and Suárez on the rights language and theory presented in the UDHR. Particular attention is given to the debates surrounding the Amerindians and the Spanish Conquest of the Americas, as well as burgeoning discussions of international relations in the emerging modern age. These debates provided the context in which the three theorists developed their understanding of rights and how the rule of the natural law was to be understood in the modern age. While the vision of the UDHR still remains to be achieved, the influence of the three masters is clearly recognized and much credit is due them for laying the foundation of modern human rights theory.