Saturday, December 8, 2018

Universal Declaration of Human Rights December 10, 1948 by Rita Lucey ARCWP

Most people agree that human rights are important. It is equally important to know what they are. Our Constitution gives us a foundation of our rights as citizens of this democracy….our civil rights. But what are these human rights and the rights of all people of the world?
On this the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we can make this document a reality. Originally spearheaded by Eleanor Roosevelt and signed by 49 countries in 1948 has long been recognized as an essential element in protecting human rights. What are these rights and how can they be defended? Obviously, education is the first requirement. On my travels through Central and South America, visiting elementary and secondary schools, I am impressed to see UDHR posters prominently displayed. This is not my experience in this my own country of America. If, in fact, people do not know their own human rights, how can they be expected to ever honor those of others?

Certainly, an argument can be made about the shortcomings of this document. Efforts continue throughout the international community to address these as humanitarian law.
The Geneva Convention of 1949 and other Protocols of 1977 relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts and other UN conventions are explicit in analyzing, clarifying, and expanding core values expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (

The indivisibility of human rights in Article 28 of this document links all the enumerated rights and freedoms from Article 1 “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights ” to “a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.” Article 29 proclaims “all have a duty to the community” to ensure these rights. Activists and non-government organizations (NGO’s) are working to comply, to reduce violence against women, abolish forced labor and human trafficking and other evils that prevent or weaken human beings rights to adequate food, water, shelter and health care. Humanity cannot survive without these.

To make human rights a global reality let us begin with education. We can bring these 30 Articles into our everyday experience as we recognize and fulfill “our duty to the community”.

A very abbreviated version of the above was published in the Daytona News Journal on Saturday, December 1.

The first recognition that human rights apply to many we, in the Judaeo Christian world, have an example in the Old Testament. A clay cylinder of Cyrus the Great, first King of ancient Persia (585-529 BCE) is hailed as the first document on human rights. King Cyrus is mentioned some 27 times, for after conquering Babylon he freed all slaves (the Israelites) to return home. He further declared people could choose their own religion. The Cyrus Cylinder details these proclamations as does the ‘history’ in the Book of Chronicles, Isaiah, and several others.

The Magna Carta in 1215 gave people new rights and made the king subject to the law.

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