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Thread: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  1. #1

    Default The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    In my English class we are reading a book intilted My Sister's Keeper, which has a lot to do with human rights so my teacher gave us this. It is The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I was reading through this and alot of changes need to be made because alot has happend since this was first signed. The one thing that shocks me is that places like Communist China and the USSR signed this. Also the United States is on of the 10 worst violators of this document. So take a look at it and tell us your thoughts.

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948

    Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

    Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

    Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

    Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

    Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

    Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

    Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

    Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

    Article 1.
    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

    Article 2.
    Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

    Article 3.
    Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

    Article 4.
    No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

    Article 5.
    No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

    Article 6.
    Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

    Article 7.
    All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

    Article 8.
    Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

    Article 9.
    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

    Article 10.
    Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

    Article 11.
    (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

    (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

    Article 12.
    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

    Article 13.
    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

    (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

    Article 14.
    (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

    (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

    Article 15.
    (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.

    (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

    Article 16.
    (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

    (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

    (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

    Article 17.
    (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

    (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

    Article 18.
    Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

    Article 19.
    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

    Article 20.
    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

    (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

    Article 21.
    (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

    (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

    (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

    Article 22.
    Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

    Article 23.
    (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

    (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

    (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
    (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

    Article 24.
    Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

    Article 25.
    (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

    (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

    Article 26.
    (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

    (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

    (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

    Article 27.
    (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

    (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

    Article 28.
    Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

    Article 29.
    (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.

    (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

    (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

    Article 30.
    Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

  2. #2


    My thoughts? Human rights aren't a whole lot more than fancy words to throw around. Pretty much all of the rules are broken on a day-to-day basis. A lot of them in the western world I might ad. The declaration looks nice and all, but what good does it really do?

  3. #3


    It's a fantastic thing, and I really wish it was enforced, rather than just signed and then thrown away...

  4. #4


    It's hard for me to believe that the US is on the top 10 all time list of violators. In the western world, perhaps, but when compared to the PRC, North Korea, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, and others, I don't think so.

    Anyway, I admire their attempt at this. They have good hearts and tried their best to give everyone a fair shake at life.

    However, I find myself opposed to many of these so called rights. I do not believe in positive rights, only negative. I do not think anyone has the right to claim something from anyone else.

    EDIT: I thought of something else, regarding your thoughts for enforcement. I think that this idea of enforcement is perhaps the most troubling of all. These rights are so open ended that just about every nation on earth would be in violation of some of them. These violations could be used as reasoning behind sanctions or other UN actions. While it seems good on the surface, these violations could be used in an overtly political way. Because, in theory, every nation in the GA has an equal voice, you could end up with a group of bad violators heading up a push to sanction another nation for purely political reasons. I mean, right now we have the PRC, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Cuba, Pakistan, and Angola on the human rights council of the UN. Do we really want those nations determining what nations should be sanctioned? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

  5. #5


    ... like China and the USSR did, apparently!

    (not putting words in your mouth Charlie F!)

    Just because you sign something like this doesn't obligate the signatory country to actually carry out and operate under the terms of the document. Look at the facts on how they treat their citizens as it relates to the terms of that declaration.

  6. #6


    It's hard for me to believe that the US is on the top 10 all time list of violators. In the western world, perhaps, but when compared to the PRC, North Korea, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, and others, I don't think so.
    I have to agree with sparkmaster on that point, and I would be interested in seeing how that list is compiled. Also, I think it is also important to realize that documents like this tend to be signed by almost everyone then distorted to fit their purposes. Basically countries like China can got a bit of good publicity by signing on, and then just ignore it, because as with almost all UN-based initiatives (with the exception of action by the UN Security Council) have no power of enforcement or consequence for non-compliance, and as such basically just create an opportunity for everyone to get together and feel good about themselves for "helping" promote human rights.

    Another problem with documents like this is exact definitions, now I am not sure if the original declaration had more clear definitions, however, lets use the word torture for example, one persons torture could be another persons "aggressive interrogation". For example the US Code definition of torture talks about severe physical or mental pain or suffering, while it attempts to further define sever mental pain or suffering, it still leaves large gray areas even though some actions, such as threatening to kill someone, are clearly prohibited, others are not clearly mentioned.


    EDIT: I thought of something else, regarding your thoughts for enforcement. I think that this idea of enforcement is perhaps the most troubling of all. These rights are so open ended that just about every nation on earth would be in violation of some of them. These violations could be used as reasoning behind sanctions or other UN actions.
    Exactly, this is why the way in which the UN is set up now is essential for the continued existence, and even limited, relevance of the body. By ensuring that all resolutions from the GA is non-binding, and thus preventing the complications you talked about. The second aspect of that is the composition of the UNSC, the only body with the power to issue binding resolutions, and the presence of the Veto power for the US, UK, Russia, China, and France. This basically ensures that the power of the UNSC will not be used to unfairly persecute one country as a No vote by any of those 5 countries kills any binding resolution. If this system ever changed significantly I would think that a number of countries, the US included would likely pull out of the UN, and the UN will cease to exist as a relevant entity(though its relevance now is even in question... but that is another discussion). So as it applies to this, I am very glad this deceleration is not enforceable.

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