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The Declaration of Human Rights - Essay Example

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DECLARATION The Declaration of Human Rights Introduction The subject of this essay is actually The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 in an effort to prevent a recurrence of World War II atrocities, including but not limited to the massacre of 6 million Jews…
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The Declaration of Human Rights
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The Declaration of Human Rights

Download file to see previous pages... This document is considered the foundation for later international human rights law, including the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. All UN members have ratified at least one of the core international rights treaties. These lay down obligations which states are bound to respect in their respective domestic legislation. Provisions of the UDHR There are 30 articles in the declaration detailing the rights drafters considered should be universal. (un.org)Rather than list each one, I will merely indicate the categories involved. They include the presumption everyone is born free and equal as a human being, and is entitled to life, liberty and security of person regardless of race, sex, language, religion, political persuasion, birth, nationality, socioeconomic status, property and the political status of the country of residency. The next category is a right to freedom from abuse such as slavery, torture, discriminatory treatment before the law, arbitrary arrest, unfair trials and presumption of guilt protected by appeal tribunals. Then there are personal rights of privacy, freedom of movement, asylum, nationality, marriage choice, property ownership alone or communally, religion and expression, assembly and political participation. In the next category are economic rights of social security, employment choice, leisure time, adequate living standards and education access. Finally cultural rights are recognized such as participation in arts and scientific endeavors, and a stable social order with due regard for the rights of others. Appropriateness of the UDHR for all Cultures The UDHR has been critiqued for prescribing Western principles as listed above for non Western nations with the implication that this is inappropriate for their cultures. I would argue that at least in general they ARE appropriate. Those who claim the contrary usually have privileged positions which could be threatened by the application of UDHR principles that transcend particular cultures. Although the Declaration of Independence was written for the American experience, I submit that its’ stated principles of “all men (and women) are created equal and entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has universal application. In other words it does not say they should be the prerogative of a privileged group and denied to others because of abuse and lack of opportunity. It is undeniable that Western imperialism and abuse of rights espoused by the UDHR has provided fertile ground for the growth of anti Western ideologies such as Islamic extremism .On the other hand, recent and current uprisings including in predominately Islamic theocracies in the Middle East, demonstrate that both the Islamic and non Islamic populations hunger for rights advocated by UDHR. Thus, while they have flourished more in Western nations, they are universal yearnings independent of particular cultures. This is especially true now because of globalization fostering increased travel and intermingling of cultures, along with new world wide communication technologies such as the internet and cell phone. This has made the masses, denied the UDHR rights, more aware that there is a better way irrespective of the doctrines of their religious and civic leaders. These trends mean that they are less likely to accept religious arguments about the legitimacy of their authoritarian leaders. While ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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