After World War II, a paradigm of States’ promotion of social welfare was predominant in several western governments, including those that lead the peace conferences that galvanized the constitutive instruments of the United Nations. This environment influenced the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and regional human rights declarations in Europe and the Americas. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 enshrines several civil and political rights (CPR) along with economical, social and cultural rights (ESCR). This trend was followed in the American continent, where a Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man combined CPR and ESCR provisions with no distinction.
As the ideological dispute between the eastern and western political blocks increased throughout the 1950s, the trend towards addressing CPR and ESCR in the same treaty began to fade. In 1951, a Western-dominated United Nations Commission on Human Rights defended the adoption of two separate covenants, and after 17 years of debates the UN General Assembly adopted the final texts of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Although their Preamble and Article 1 share the same text, the ideological dispute that characterized their preparatory works resulted in remarkable differences in the language of other provisions. Whereas the ICCPR phrasing is similar to the one found in declarations of rights enacted after the liberal revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries (everyone has the right to…), the ICESCR affirms states’ acknowledgement of specific rights (States Parties recognize the right of everyone to…).