“Human Rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity.” -Mother Teresa
This article simplifies and segregates the various provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and poetically mentions the valuable importance of such a declaration.
Road to UDHR
The present world is a consequence of the lessons learnt from the inhumane Holocaust and the terrible repercussions of the 2nd World War, preceded by a sadistic history of violence and self-centeredness.
The agony of such a past was so deep that the developed nations finally decided to take necessary steps to put brakes on the disordered and power-hungry mindset.
The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was one of the landmark steps for recognising human rights in human history.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is considered a milestone document that is the reference document for all countries that have included or are willing to include the provisions of Human Rights in their Constitution.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the declaration on 10th December 1948 in Paris through General Assembly Resolution 217A, thus, marking 10th December as Human Rights Day. The nature of rights proclaimed in this declaration is universal.
What Does the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Say?
The Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the inherent dignity, equal and inalienable rights of human beings to be the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
It further encapsulates the effects of barbaric acts, which resulted in the awakening of human conscience while giving utmost emphasis to freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear of any kind.
It highlights the protection of human rights through the rule of law and declares rebellion to be the last resort against any form of tyranny. It emphasises the promotion of friendly relations between nations. And thus, all the member states have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
What Are the Rights Mentioned Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
There are 30 Articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that universally bestow the rights to human beings. We have bundled them and classified them under these 13 headings.
The rights mentioned under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are:
- Right to Equality
- Right Against Cruelty
- Rights Regarding Prosecution
- Nationality and Residential Rights
- Right to Form a Family and Proper Living Standards
- Right to Property
- Right to Religion and Expression
- Right to Peaceful Assembly
- Political Rights
- Employment Rights
- Children’s Rights
- Societal Rights
- Duties of Every Individual
Right to Equality
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, without any distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
No discrimination based on the status of a country should be there. Every human should act in accordance with the spirit of brotherhood towards each other, and everyone is bestowed with the right to life, liberty and security. All are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law against any form of discrimination.
Right Against Cruelty
All human beings have a right against any form of cruelty, torture, slavery or servitude. Every person has the right against any attack upon their reputation or honour, along with the right to social security.
Rights Regarding Prosecution
All human beings have the right against arbitrary arrest, exile or detention. Everyone has the right to approach the national tribunals of their country in violation of the fundamental rights granted to them by their country. Everyone has the right to a fair public hearing and to be treated as innocent until proven guilty, along with the right against the retrospective implementation of legislations and penalty provisions, including imprisonment.
Nationality and Residential Rights
Everyone has the right to freely move and reside within the borders of each country, along with the right to leave any country, including their own and also the right to return to their country.
Everyone has the right to an asylum against persecution in any country until and unless the person has not left the country after doing some non-political crime or any act which is contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Everyone has the right to nationality and to be recognised throughout the world as a national of that particular country while simultaneously having the right to change their nationality from one country to another.
Right to Form a Family and Proper Living Standards
Everyone has a right to marry with free and full consent and formulate a family unit that is entitled to the protection of state and society, including the right to a proper standard of living for the person and his family, i.e. proper health, food, clothing and all other basic living necessities.
Right to Property
Everyone has a right to own property, and no one should be deprived of their property. The person can either own the property alone or in association with others.
Right to Religion and Expression
Everyone has a right to freedom of thought, opinion, expression and conscience. Everyone has a right to practice any religion and even to change their religion. This also includes the right to promote and impart ideas through any media.
Right to Peaceful Assembly
Everyone has a right to assemble or form associations peacefully, and no one can be compelled to belong to an association.
Everyone has the right to participate in their country’s governance or government formation either directly, i.e. by participating in the elections as an elective representative or indirectly through a universal adult franchise, i.e. as a voter.
It includes the right to choose one’s employment, right against unemployment, just and favourable conditions of work, equal pay for equal work, right to just and favourable remuneration, right to join trade unions for the protection of their interests, right to reasonable limitations to working hours and right to periodic paid holidays.
Every child has the right to education, including free education at least till elementary or fundamental stages, equal accessibility to higher education and availability of technical and professional education, plus quality education enhancing the personality development. Parents have a right to choose the kind of education their children will further pursue.
Everyone has the right to participate in societal functions, including the right to participate in the cultural life of the community and scientific development. Everyone has the right to protect the moral and material interests resulting from any such activities.
Duties of Every Individual
Along with the enjoyment of rights, every individual has certain duties towards the community and other human beings, and the rights mentioned above cannot be exercised contrary to the principles of the United Nations. Everyone is bound by the limitations with respect to the rights as provided by their country’s Constitution.
“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy, that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” – John Kenneth Galbraith
The necessity of this declaration and the Human Rights protection was the imminent need of the time. The essence of humanity was lost in a human history filled with ugly greed and manipulative justifications for evil deeds. The sense of entitlement and superiority that emerged from authoritarian and tyrannical mentality was needed to be grounded. Thus, this declaration emerged as a silver lining in a devastated world of immense sorrow and pain.