The principles that form the notion of human rights date back to Greek philosophy and various world religions. Nevertheless, human rights did not explicitly enter into international law until the end of World War II. With the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly, a new and significant body of law developed at the international and regional levels. Treaties relating to topics such as genocide, racial and gender discrimination, refugees, rights of children, civil and political rights, and economic, social, and cultural rights have been promulgated over the past 60 years, and attention to human rights continues to be a major agenda item before the international community.
With this background, in 1979, the University of Cincinnati College of Law established the first endowed institute at an American law school devoted to the study of international human rights law. The Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights was made possible by a generous grant from William J. Butler, Trustee of the Urban Morgan Educational Fund. Mr. Butler is a distinguished member of the New York Bar who has been active in human rights causes for many years, highlighted by his extensive involvement with the International Commission of Jurists and the American Association for the International Commission of Jurists.
For three decades, the Urban Morgan Institute has been a leader in the education and training of human rights lawyers and is recognized throughout the world for the many and varied contributions that the Institute makes to the human rights field.