De Amerikaanse president Franklin D. Roosevelt introduceerde in 1941 de vier vrijheden: vrijheid van meningsuiting, godsdienstvrijheid, vrijwaring van gebrek en vrijwaring van vrees.
De Four Freedoms Award, een van de prijzen voor verdedigers van mensenrechten, de Four Freedoms Award, is ernaar vernoemd.
Uit de toespraak van Roosevelt:
‘In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression – everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way – everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want – which, translated into universal terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants – everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear – which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor – anywhere in the world.’