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Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)




Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,


Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the

conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief

and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,


Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against

tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,


Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,


Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights,

in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to

promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,


Whereas 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,


Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization

of this pledge,


Now, therefore,







as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every

organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote

respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their

universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and

among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.


Article 1


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.


Article 2


Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.


Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the

country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any

other limitation of sovereignty.


Article 3


Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.


Article 4


No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.


Article 5


No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.


Article 6


Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.


Article 7


All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.


Article 8


Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.


Article 9


No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.


Article 10


Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.


Article 11


(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to

law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.


(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a

penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty

be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.


Article 12


No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to

attacks upon his honour and reputation.  Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such

interference or attacks.


Article 13


(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.


(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.


Article 14


(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.


(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from

acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.


Article 15


(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.


(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.


Article 16


(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry

and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.


(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.


(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the



Article 17


(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.


(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.


Article 18


Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his

religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his

religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.


Article 19


Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without

interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.


Article 20


(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.


(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.


Article 21


(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen



(2) Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country.


(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic

and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by

equivalent free voting procedures.


Article 22


Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national

effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the

economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.


Article 23


(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.


(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.


(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.


(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.


Article 24


Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays

with pay.


Article 25


(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family,

including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the

event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances

beyond his control.


(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of

wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.


Article 26


(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages.

Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available

and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.


(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect

for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all

nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of



(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.


Article 27


(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in

scientific advancement and its benefits.


(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary

or artistic production of which he is the author.


Article 28


Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.


Article 29


(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is



(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined

by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of

meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.


(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United



Article 30


Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.


G.A. res. 217A (III), U.N. Doc A/810 at 71 (1948)


Adopted on December 10, 1948

by the General Assembly of the United Nations (without dissent)




 The below article is from Amnesty International.


 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: A Magna Carta for all humanity


 Some 50 years have elapsed since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the

 United Nations on 10 December 1948. The Declaration was one of the first major achievements of the

 United Nations, and after 50 years remains a powerful instrument which continues to exert an

 enormous effect on people's lives all over the world. This was the first time in history that a document

 considered to have universal value was adopted by an international organization. It was also the first

 time that human rights and fundamental freedoms were set forth in such detail. There was

 broad-based international support for the Declaration when it was adopted. It represented "a world

 milestone in the long struggle for human rights", in the words of a UN General Assembly

 representative from France.


 The adoption of the Universal Declaration stems in large part from the strong desire for peace in the

 aftermath of the Second World War. Although the 58 Member States which formed the United

 Nations at that time varied in their ideologies, political systems and religious and cultural backgrounds

 and had different patterns of socio-economic development, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

 represented a common statement of goals and aspirations -- a vision of the world as the international

 community would want it to become.


 Since 1948, the Universal Declaration has been translated into more than 200 languages and remains

 one of the best known and most often cited human rights documents in the world. Over the years,

 the Declaration has been used in the defense and advancement of people's rights. Its principles have

 been enshrined in and continue to inspire national legislation and the constitutions of many newly

 independent states. References to the Declaration have been made in charters and resolutions of

 regional intergovernmental organizations as well as in treaties and resolutions adopted by the United

 Nations system.


 The year 1998 marks the fiftieth anniversary of this "Magna Carta for all humanity." The theme of the

 fiftieth anniversary--"All Human Rights for All"-- highlights the universality, the indivisibility and the

 interrelationship of all human rights. It reinforces the idea that human rights--civil, cultural, economic,

 political and social--should be taken in their totality and not disassociated from one another.


 Drafting and adopting the Declaration, a long and arduous task


 When created in 1946, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights was composed of 18

 Member States. During its first sessions, the main item on the agenda was the Universal Declaration

 of Human Rights. The Commission set up a drafting committee which devoted itself exclusively to

 preparing the draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The drafting committee was

 composed of eight persons, from Australia, Chile, China, France, Lebanon, the Union of Soviet

 Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The United Nations

 Secretariat, under the guidance of John Humphrey, drafted the outline (400 pages in length) to serve

 as the basic working paper of the Committee.


 During the two-year drafting process of the Universal Declaration, the drafters maintained a common

 ground for discussions and a common goal: respect for fundamental rights and freedoms. Despite

 their conflicting views on certain questions, they agreed to include in the document the principles of

 non-discrimination, civil and political rights, and social and economic rights. They also agreed that the

 Declaration had to be universal.


 Personally dedicated to the task of preparing this Declaration, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, who chaired

 the Human Rights Commission in its first years, asked, "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. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the

 school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. 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. Without

 concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger



 On 10 December 1948, at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, the 58 Member States of the United Nations

 General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with 48 states in favour and

 eight abstentions (two countries were not present at the time of the voting). General Assembly

 resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948, which proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human

 Rights, was adopted as follows: In favour: Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil,

 Burma, Canada, Chile, China,Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador,

 Egypt, El Salvador,Ethiopia, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon,

 Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Panama,

 Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Siam (Thailand), Sweden, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States,

 Uruguay, Venezuela. Abstaining: Byelorussian SSR, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Ukrainian

 SSR, Union of South Africa, USSR, Yugoslavia. The General Assembly proclaimed the Declaration as a

 "common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations", towards which individuals and

 societies should "strive by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal

 and effective recognition and observance".


 The Declaration, a vision of what the world should be


 Although the Declaration, which comprises a broad range of rights, is not a legally binding document,

 it has inspired more than 60 human rights instruments which together constitute an international

 standard of human rights. These instruments include the International Covenant on Economic, Social

 and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which are

 legally binding treaties. Together with the Universal Declaration, they constitute the International Bill

 of Rights.


 The Declaration recognizes that the "inherent dignity of all members of the human family is the

 foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world" and is linked to the recognition of fundamental

 rights towards which every human being aspires, namely the right to life, liberty and security of

 person; the right to an adequate standard of living; the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries

 asylum from persecution; the right to own property; the right to freedom of opinion and expression;

 the right to education, freedom of thought, conscience and religion; and the right to freedom from

 torture and degrading treatment, among others. These are inherent rights to be enjoyed by all

 human beings of the global village -- men, women and children, as well as by any group of society,

 disadvantaged or not -- and not "gifts" to be withdrawn, withheld or granted at someone's whim or



 Mary Robinson, who became the second United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in

 September 1997, expressed this opinion when she declared that "human rights belong to people,

 human rights are about people on the ground and their rights". She has stated that she would take a

 "bottom-up" approach in promoting human rights, an approach which reflects the first words of the

 United Nations Charter, "We the Peoples".


 The rights contained in the Declaration and the two covenants were further elaborated in such legal

 documents as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,

 which declares dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred as being punishable by law;

 the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, covering measures

 to be taken for eliminating discrimination against women in political and public life, education,

 employment, health, marriage and family; and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which lays

 down guarantees in terms of the child's human rights.


 International mobilization in favour of the Declaration: Government commitment


 At the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna (Austria) in June 1993, 171 countries

 reiterated the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights, and reaffirmed their

 commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They adopted the Vienna Declaration and

 Programme of Action, which provides the new "framework of planning, dialogue and cooperation", to

 enable a holistic approach to promoting human rights and involving actors at the local, national and

 international levels. The five-year review of the Vienna Programme of Action will also take place in

 1998. This review provides a substantive dimension to the fiftieth anniversary, which many human

 rights activists and professionals see as a time for States to renew their commitment to the

 promotion and protection of human rights.


 It is a time for Governments to ensure that the rights set forth in the Declaration are reflected in their

 national legislation and to move to ratify those international human rights treaties that are still

 pending. Governments could consider formulating and implementing a pro-active strategy in favour of

 the promotion of and respect for human rights. This could be translated into action by adopting

 national plans of action for advancing human rights and fostering human rights education. This

 anniversary also provides the opportunity for more countries not only to condemn blatant violations

 of human rights but also to take responsibility and action to break the cycle of impunity whenever

 human rights are violated.


 Public awareness campaign


 The fiftieth anniversary is a time to promote public awareness of the meaning of the Universal

 Declaration and its relevance to our daily lives. Providing information about human rights in the

 languages understood by peoples everywhere is one aspect of a global public awareness campaign.

 Falling during the Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004), the anniversary also provides

 another focus for education and action. In addition to the 200 language versions already available, a

 number of other local language translations are to be released for the fiftieth anniversary.


 The fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration is an opportunity for people worldwide to

 commemorate the adoption of this landmark document. It also represents an opportunity to mobilize

 all strata of society in a reinvigorated and broad-based human rights movement. The involvement of

 civil society and non-governmental organizations in fighting for and demanding recognition of basic

 rights has played a central role in the advancement and promotion of human rights around the world.

 National Committees have already been set up in many countries, with the aim of undertaking

 activities to mark the Anniversary.


 Grass-roots movements to encourage entire communities to know, demand and defend their rights

 will send a positive and strong message: that people everywhere are adamant that human rights

 should be respected. At local level, concerned citizens can approach their congressional or

 parliamentary representatives and ask their Governments to ratify international human rights treaties

 if they have yet not done so.


 The United Nations


 In accordance with the recommendations made at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights for

 increased coordination within the United Nations system, Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United

 Nations, stated, "I will be a champion of human rights and will ensure that human rights are fully

 integrated in the action of the Organization in all other domains". Human rights, indeed, cut across all

 the work of the United Nations, from peacekeeping, child rights, health and development to the rights

 of indigenous peoples to education, social development and the eradication of poverty. Consultations

 have already taken place among all agencies and programmes of the United Nations, leading to

 strategies and campaigns being devised.




 Since the inception of the United Nations, the promotion and protection of human rights have been at

 its very core. Reference to the promotion of and respect for human rights was made in Article 1 of

 the United Nations Charter and in the establishment of a commission for the promotion of human

 rights, mentioned in Article 68 of the Charter. Over the years, the United Nations has created a wide

 range of mechanisms for monitoring human rights violations. Conventional mechanisms (treaty

 bodies) and extra-conventional mechanisms (UN special rapporteurs, representatives, experts and

 working groups) have been established in order to monitor compliance of States parties with the

 various human rights instruments and to investigate allegations of human rights abuses. In recent

 years, a number of field offices have been opened at the request of Governments, inter alia, to assist

 in the development of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights and to

 conduct education campaigns on human rights.


 Challenges still lie ahead, despite many accomplishments in the field of human rights. Many in the

 international community believe that human rights, democracy and development are intertwined.

 Unless human rights are respected, the maintenance of international peace and security and the

 promotion of economic and social development cannot be achieved. The world is still plagued with

 incidents of ethnic hatred and acts of genocide. People are still victims of xenophobic attitudes, are

 subjected to discrimination because of religion or gender and suffer from exclusion. Around the

 world, millions of people are still denied food, shelter, access to medical care, education and work, and

 too many live in extreme poverty. Their inherent humanity and dignity are not recognized.


 The future of human rights lies in our hands. We must all act when human rights are violated. States

 as well as the individual must take responsibility for the realization and effective protection of human



 Published by the United Nations Department of Public Information.


 December 1997