The content of human rights is usually understood by reference to the legal catalogue of human rights we find developed through international texts. ‘Historical development and contemporary concerns’ examines the key text for human rights today—The Universal Declaration of Human Rights—adopted in 1948 by the UN General Assembly. Since that time many treaties and intergovernmental Declarations have supplemented this proclamation of rights. The treaties are best viewed as providing a framework against which we can legitimately judge the performance of governments. How did this human rights catalogue come about? What roles did the League of Nations and Second World War play?