Certain rights are granted to every individual irrespective of their nationality and religion. These are known as human rights, and are aimed at ensuring that every individual is entitled to a dignified and prosperous life. Read on to know more about their importance and the role they play in today's global, multicultural world.
A UN committee, headed by Eleanor Roosevelt, drafted the document that defined and universally granted the basic rights to all human beings, terming them the equal and inalienable rights of every human being. The Declaration, known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948.
The UN, formed in 1945 to replace the defunct League of Nations, was the first to put up a formal global setup to define human rights. Individual countries had their own codes concerning human rights before the UN stepped in, but with the horrors of the Holocaust still fresh in the world’s collective conscience, the UN’s authoritative intervention became crucial.
Here’s the list of human rights described in the UDHR.
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.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, 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.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.
Everyone has the right to be recognized as a person before the law.
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.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted to him by the constitution or by law.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
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.
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offense 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 defense.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offense on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offense, 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 offense was committed.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
(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.
(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy asylum from persecution in other countries.
(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.
(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.
(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 State.
(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.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes the freedom to change religion or belief, and the 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.
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.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(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.
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.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable 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 favorable 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.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
(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.
(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 peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
(1) Everyone has the right to freely 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.
Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(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 Nations.
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.
Human rights are a sanctum of the civilized world. The interpretation of these rights is subject to the legislation of respective regions, but the UN does its best to ensure that these human rights are made available to each and every human being on the planet. These rights revolve around and highlight the importance of preserving justice, peace, mutual respect and, above all, dignity.
►► Violation of human rights ranges from wars and genocides to workplace harassment and all that falls in between. The Declaration of Human Rights was, in fact, drafted on the backdrop of the terrible genocide of Jews by Nazis.
►► Starvation, lack of medical facilities, lack of food, torture, human trafficking etc. all come under the heading of human rights violations. When the freedom to speak, express, write, move around one’s own country or city are curbed and put under restriction, it constitutes human rights violations. Laws that do not allow interracial marriages, inter-caste marriages, same-sex marriages also violate human rights; although very few countries legally forbid interracial marriages, same-sex marriages are still illegal in most countries. Even in this age of seemingly liberal societies and sophisticated mentalities, same-sex couples have to fight protracted legal battles just to be together with one another, women are molested on a frighteningly regular basis and children are forced into labor without concern for their education or well-being.
►► One of the most rampant examples of human rights violation is crimes against women. In a dominantly patriarchal modern world, women are often meted out humiliating treatment. Female infanticide is still rampant in many countries, particularly in Asia and Africa. There are many countries where women are not allowed to exercise the right to education or the freedom to choose the man they want to marry.
►► Child abuse is another form of human rights violation, wherein children are forced into labor and/or abused physically, mentally or sexually. Child labor is a human rights violation that takes away the freedom and the joy of childhood from children. The child laborers are, more often than not, denied proper education, so as to maximize their output, and usually underpaid and overworked.
►► Human rights violations also include seemingly banal issues, such as employment discrimination, banning the rights of an individual to wear what they please etc.
Violations of the aforementioned fundamental rights of all human beings, occurring anywhere in the world, are not just a taunt to the piece of paper holding the Declaration of Human Rights, but to the very basis of humanity itself.