The United Nations General Assembly has, in 1948, adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While not legally binding upon any nation, the adoption signifies a general agreement by ALL signatory nations to the principles espoused in the Declaration. In short these are the basic fundamental rights belonging to ALL humans the vast majority of governments on Earth have said they agree upon.
If you have not yet read them as written (and as agreed to by those in power in your country back in 1948 – that is, unchallenged for almost 70 years now!) then it is probably time you should – and really think what they mean – and be outraged that they are largely not being followed to the letter, or in many instances, even in general as a principle.
The following is a synopsis of the Universal Declaration which is in an easily readable form and was taken from the website of the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund)
The full Declaration in Article form can be found here. (Opens in a new window.)
“Human rights are universal and inalienable; indivisible; interdependent and interrelated. They are universal because everyone is born with and possesses the same rights, regardless of where they live, their gender or race, or their religious, cultural or ethnic background. Inalienable because people’s rights can never be taken away. Indivisible and interdependent because all rights – political, civil, social, cultural and economic – are equal in importance and none can be fully enjoyed without the others.
They apply to all equally, and all have the right to participate in decisions that affect their lives. They are upheld by the rule of law and strengthened through legitimate claims for duty-bearers to be accountable to international standards.
Universality and Inalienability: Human rights are universal and inalienable. All people everywhere in the world are entitled to them. The universality of human rights is encompassed in the words of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
Indivisibility: Human rights are indivisible. Whether they relate to civil, cultural, economic, political or social issues, human rights are inherent to the dignity of every human person. Consequently, all human rights have equal status, and cannot be positioned in a hierarchical order. Denial of one right invariably impedes enjoyment of other rights. Thus, the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living cannot be compromised at the expense of other rights, such as the right to health or the right to education.
Interdependence and Interrelatedness: Human rights are interdependent and interrelated. Each one contributes to the realization of a person’s human dignity through the satisfaction of his or her developmental, physical, psychological and spiritual needs. The fulfilment of one right often depends, wholly or in part, upon the fulfilment of others. For instance, fulfilment of the right to health may depend, in certain circumstances, on fulfilment of the right to development, to education or to information.
Equality and Non-discrimination: All individuals are equal as human beings and by virtue of the inherent dignity of each human person. No one, therefore, should suffer discrimination on the basis of race, colour, ethnicity, gender, age, language, sexual orientation, religion, political or other opinion, national, social or geographical origin, disability, property, birth or other status as established by human rights standards.
Participation and Inclusion: All people have the right to participate in and access information relating to the decision-making processes that affect their lives and well-being. Rights-based approaches require a high degree of participation by communities, civil society, minorities, women, young people, indigenous peoples and other identified groups.
Accountability and Rule of Law: States and other duty-bearers are answerable for the observance of human rights. In this regard, they have to comply with the legal norms and standards enshrined in international human rights instruments. Where they fail to do so, aggrieved rights-holders are entitled to institute proceedings for appropriate redress before a competent court or other adjudicator in accordance with the rules and procedures provided by law. Individuals, the media, civil society and the international community play important roles in holding governments accountable for their obligation to uphold human rights.”
These rights have been agreed upon as belonging to each and every one of us. i do not believe however that we have been given them for free! the carry equal obligations on all of us to both uphold them for all others and to meet the obligations they impose on us as a result.
Some of those obligations include: committing to live according to the rules and laws of society, such as paying such taxes as the majority have agreed is fair and just; obeying road rules such as speed limits and red lights or stop signs; participating in civic duties imposed by a fairly elected(??) government and all the duties we as citizens of our society have determined should be required of us.
If we fail in meeting these obligations then we lose the right to hold those rights our governments have agreed apply to us all, and we then have to live in isolation and fend for ourselves without the benefit of the work done by the rest of the society who’s work we depend upon.
HUMAN RIGHTS DAY – DECEMBER 10
What do you think about a finer definition:
That’s a heck of a long read and i can’t admit to reading it in it’s entirety, but i believe i got the salient points!
I’m in general agreement with the arguments against God-given, natural and government granted rights (naturally, since i have previously stated my belief is we have no guaranteed rights).
I believe however that Rand’s ‘Truths’ have holes big enough to drive jumbo jets through. her arguments have very fundamental issues.
You can’t equate an individual’s rights with a society’s right when that society is comprised of individuals who will inevitably hold different ideas and beliefs. Each individual’s rights will have to be competing against everyone else’s and also against those rights that a single multi-entity society requires in order for the society to survive and grow.
Rand make this demonstrably false statement as part of her argument for the existence of (moral) ‘rights’:
Life is conditional: If a living thing takes the actions necessary to remain alive, it remains alive; if, for whatever reason, it fails to take those actions, it dies.
The first part of that statement is simply defining life and death – hardly a remarkable observation – but the implication she draws from it is totally false.
I can do everything i am ‘required’ to do that are necessary in order to live, but have my life ended ( ie not remain alive) in the blink of an eye by any number of ‘natural’ events (or man-made ones).
Also, i can not take all of the actions personally and still be fortunate enough to live.
Similarly, i may not have failed to take all necessary actions that support my life but still suddenly die. No individual has an indisputable right to life. Anyone who thinks they have should argue the point with a Grizzly Bear in a salmon river in Alaska or a Great White Shark while swimming off the coast of Western Australia.
it’s a comforting idea to think we have some form of right to something but observation of the world proves otherwise. Any right you can think of is all to easily taken from you and your ‘right’ to have them returned to you is largely unenforcible.
Can you state even one right every individual actually has that is defendable by observation?
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Here are some thoughts.
First, there are no such thing as rights of a society. Societies are comprised of individuals. Only individuals have rights. How can individuals compete — where a government refuses to allow force in social relationships? There’s only a few ways. No government: anarchy. Despotic regimes, Nazi Germany, Venezuela, China etc.
If I have a right to live I will then assert, perhaps in the form of a constitution, that those who wish to take my life for no apparent reason, be jailed. There ends argument. No one has the right to take the rights of others. All rational members of a given society need to agree that there are basic rights (life, liberty and property) for the society to function well. Hence the need for a small, but effective government, to redress our grievances – to protect our rights.
Of course, the entire idea of human rights disintegrates, if nobody steps up.
Can a society function well by ignoring the rights of individuals? It all depends upon what you consider “well.”
We know that slavery existed the United States before the Civil War. Cotton was cheaper, because slave labor was free – or almost free. You still needed to feed your slaves etc. The society – economically – functioned at a profit for cotton, sugar etc., growers. It was of course, a failure at individual liberties. After the slaves were freed, many of the farmers/growers in the southern US went bankrupt and rightly so. Black children went to school, rather than work in the fields.
You mentioned that Rand made a “demonstrably false statement…for the existence of (moral) ‘rights’: Life is conditional: If a living thing takes the actions necessary to remain alive, it remains alive; if, for whatever reason, it fails to take those actions, it dies. The…implication she draws from it is totally false.”
You missed the implication, hence the false statement assertion is moot.
“I can do everything i am ‘required’ to do that are necessary in order to live, but have my life ended ( ie not remain alive) in the blink of an eye by any number of ‘natural’ events (or man-made ones).
“Also, i can not take all of the actions personally and still be fortunate enough to live.
Similarly, i may not have failed to take all necessary actions that support my life but still suddenly die. No individual has an indisputable right to life. Anyone who thinks they have should argue the point with a Grizzly Bear in a salmon river in Alaska or a Great White Shark while swimming off the coast of Western Australia.”
I can see your confusion here. To understand the entire argument, you need more background.
Rand well knew life could end at any second. That’s not the point. What she was communicating here is that you are responsible for you. Nobody else should be ‘required’ to live their lives to support yours. This is not to say that she felt handicapped people should die of starvation in the streets. Quite the contrary.
Again, the link I sent you was only a taste – an excerpt. You need to follow the reasoning here.
If one is alive, one should try to stay alive and decide how best to accomplish that. In other words, being alive, means one must eat to continue life. It means one should not jump into shark infested waters after soaking in chum. It means that an intelligent person would chose to trade freely, rather than be enslaved to pick cotton with his bare hands. But there are fools about. They work in the US Congress. It also means that rational persons, reasoning individuals, will conclude that to be free from death threats and slavery and jail – for no good reason, is a great idea. Hence the idea to form a government necessary to support the moral rights of man.
And to turn the tables on you. If we have no right to our own lives, liberty to work and sustain ourselves, the ability to buy food (property) then how would you define ‘rights’ in a clearer fashion?
To observe the world out of fear, too point at Hitler and other despots, and give up? Or to stand on the line, toe to toe with those who feel “might makes right” and crush them like the insects they are. After all insects have no rights, do they?
Did not the Aussies, Canadians, etc., die like Americans, killing those insects in wars? Isn’t that like telling your ancestors they fought and died in vain?
And I’m not sure about your neck of the woods, but rights are not easily taken in America. It takes years for them to erode. The old ‘boil the frog’ routine. The last gasp will be when we have been disarmed.
Today, I can still walk around town with my handgun, can you? I can travel across country, through dozens of states – armed. (There is your one observation.)
Do you know how many rapes, burglaries, murders etc., are prevented each year in America – because we refuse to allow our right to our lives be ‘gun controlled?’ We – the majority I think – refuse to be victims. Have you seen the stats in the UK? Burglaries Europe? Muggings in Paris? They dwarf the US.
If individuals have no rights, cannot sustain themselves by their own actions, by what right do you stop them, absent them violating your rights? What is your moral, immoral or amoral reason? How else can one uphold a free society?
Here’s a better link, if you are game: https://campus.aynrand.org/works/1963/04/01/mans-rights
But you remind me of this statement:
“The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode their rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which those changes can be reversed.”
— Adolf Hitler
Thanks for the commentJack, but i can assure you i am not in the least confused here.
You may be confusing my statement that no-one actually has rights that are enforcible by anyone including themselves, with the mistaken belief that i don’t like the CONCEPT of individual rights.
You also seem to be confusing the idea of you having some rights with the idea that society’s (perfectly reasonable) laws are somehow based upon ‘your’ individual rights – sorry but that is just plain wrong.
It is a good thing that the law will punish me if i try to kill someone ( unless i’m in the armed forces or the police!) but that is not the same thing as having a ‘right’ to one’s life.
I’d like to continue the discussion but first two points on your comment:
i have no idea where you get your statistics from but you might like to check these against your stated ones above. https://knoema.com/jdsieme/international-crime-statistics-burglary
You have completely ignored my question: from the previous comment of mine: name me one right you think you currently have that is enforceable somehow?