July 26, 2009 by libertymoonbeam
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN on December 10th, 1948 human rights are the inalienable rights of all human beings. It states that the essence of global peace and justice is the recognition of human dignity. Virtually every atrocity committed by mankind has been a direct result of a blatant disregard of certain inalienable rights – such as the freedom of belief and speech as well as the freedom from fear and want, thus the rights of human beings should be defended by rule of law.
Articles one and two of The Universal Declaration state that all humans share equal rights and dignity and are born free. As free agents they should treat each other in a brotherly manner, using their inherent conscience and reason.
Articles three through eleven cover the rights belonging to every human being: Rights to such things as life, security and liberty, the rights to be free from any form of slavery and torture or inhuman and degrading punishments. These articles state that all of mankind should be treated as true equals in every aspect of life. Articles twelve through seventeen outline the rights that we hold in civil society: These include the rights of free movement and return, political asylum. Also stated are the rights to nationality, to marry and create a family, and to own property. These rights are left vaguer than their predecessors, leaving room for interpretation and stipulations.
Articles eighteen through twenty one charts the rights a person holds in spiritual and political realms: Freedom of speech, expression, opinion, religion, thought and belief, even the right to take part in government affairs, through elected representatives or directly.
Articles twenty two through twenty seven delineate our social, cultural and economic rights: The right to work and protection from unemployment, the right to rest and vacation, the right to an education and the right to enjoy cultural life.
Finally articles twenty eight through thirty bring these rights back together with the obligation of individuals to the United Nations, to their society and to one another.
I believe very strongly that all human beings are born equal and free and are guaranteed certain inalienable rights that can never be taken from them. Some may criticize the declaration claiming that it is based on a western way of thinking, that it’s partisan and not suitable or relevant to all cultures. I disagree with these statements. The declaration is a product of a group of eighteen individuals who all came from very different backgrounds, regions, legal traditions and religions. These eighteen individuals were seeking a “common standard of achievement” that we could all share that would secure a “higher standard of life”. I believe that what they created was a beautiful canvas of interdependent liberties and social responsibilities.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Eleanor Roosevelt who was the chairman of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and a staunch supporter of the declaration. She stated that “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world … Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.”
It states in the preamble of the declaration that we will “keep this Declaration constantly in mind”, that we “shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms”. It is our responsibility as a nation to uphold these promises that we have made to future generations.
Our educational system is failing our children. I never so much as saw the Universal Declaration of Human Rights until I was a junior in college. Not only had I not seen the declaration but I was never even taught about the concept of human rights, this is a travesty. How is it that I knew the histories of every great war and violent conflict but I had never been taught about my basic rights and freedoms? As a mother I am saddened and frustrated at our shortcomings as a society. I strongly believe that if we want a peaceful society we have to work for it and the best place to start is by teaching our children that, “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”. It is only through teaching our children love and respect for all mankind that we can ever hope to obtain a peaceable world.