7 Insights on the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights
Written on December 16, 1948, the United Nation’s Declaration of Human Rights is considered one of the world’s most premier human rights documents. The declaration provides clarity and insight on a wide array of human rights issues and has played an essential role in protecting and improving the lives and rights of humans across the entire world.
1. The U.N. Declaration of Human Rights Has an Eclectic Mix of Authors
The United Nation’s Declaration of Human Rights differs from most governmental documents in that individuals from a mix of professions and countries developed it. Some of the most well-known drafters include former First Lady Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt (who was appointed by then U.S. president Harry S. Truman), Peng-chun Chang (known for his plays, philosophies and educational ventures, Chang was able to clearly articulate the traditional Chinese understanding of human rights) and World War I veteran William Hodgson.
2. The Declaration Was Largely the Result of WWII
When World War II ended in September of 1945, individuals and groups from all countries and races gathered together to create the United Nations. A large component of the United Nations comprised of the commitment to save future generations from the terror and isolation caused by war. To further extend this commitment, the United Nations drafted a formal document declaring universal rights for all individuals, regardless of race, class, country or gender. Thus, the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights is unprecedented as it is the first document to clarify and protect humanity’s fundamental rights.
3. The Preamble: Getting to the Point
The writers of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights were not hesitant in bringing awareness to human’s disastrous past, addressing past violent acts within the second paragraph of the Preamble, noting, “contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.” The Preamble further states the intention of the declaration, stating that they seek to “promote the development of friendly relations between nations.”
4. Article 2: All Rights for All
After WWII and the Nazi desire for a superior race, countries and individuals alike were stricken by not only such a damaging ideology, but also the physical and verbal violence that came with it. The writers of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights were keenly aware of this and sought to immediately address these universal concerns by providing equal rights for all. Making sure to cover all loopholes, the drafters deftly articulated that the rights stated in this document are for all, regardless of “race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, nation or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
5. Privacy, a Key Concern of Declaration Writers
Living in a technological society, it is not uncommon to have a credit card – or even identity – stolen, or an account hack of some kind. To help protect against these attacks, we often look to improve privacy or security, yet in doing so, we often forget that privacy is not merely a modern concern. In fact, privacy was one of the main concerns of the writers of the declaration and they clearly saw privacy as one of the most pivotal components of being human, as in Article 12 they write that, “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation.”
6. Equal Marriage Rights for Men & Women
By the mid 20th century, couples were no longer strictly limited to a particular country, race or religion, and to keep such couples from persecution, the writers of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights developed Article 16, noting that, “men and women full of age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.” It is important to note, though, that due to conflict of ideals in other countries, gay marriage isn’t included in this article.
7. Article 18: Complete Freedom
One of the most important articles of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights is Article 18, which notes that “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 in public or private, to manifest his religion or believe in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
This article is particularly important not only because it provides individuals with the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, but that it also provides individuals with the freedom to change their minds on their understandings or opinions concerning thought, conscience and religion. The freedom to change is one of the most essential freedoms that there is, and this article clearly depicts how empathetic and concerned the writers were of providing and protecting all of the essential human rights.
Despite having been written almost 70 years ago, the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights continues to be one of the most respected documents in human history. Without it, many of our basic human rights may not be enforced or protected, particularly on a universal level. As we continue to progress, both individually and culturally, it will be essential that we continue to protect and build upon the human rights documented within this ground-breaking declaration.
Social workers are passionate about enhancing the quality of life and assisting individuals and communities in reaching their full potential. The University of New England’s Master of Social Work online program represents these ideals and encourages students to continue in their pursuit of social justice while expanding their compassion and understanding of human dignity, diversity and self-determination.