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! They 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.