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UN declaration sets out basic human rights

Monday, December 17, 2012
Law Made Simple

United Nations Human Rights Day was observed by the international community last Monday. It commemorates the day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Over the next two weeks, this column will highlight some of the main clauses of this key international agreement which this country has agreed to.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets out the basic human rights to which all people are entitled because they are human. It has moral force but is not legally enforceable unless adopted by local laws. It represents, however, a common set of principles for states in their relations with their citizens. It also provides a clear statement of rights for all citizens to embrace.


The preamble sets out the background to the declaration. It recognises that the dignity and equal rights of people is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace. It notes that respect for the rule of law is vital and that member states of the United Nations pledge to co-operate to promote universal respect for and observance of human rights and freedoms.


The Declaration proclaims the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be: “…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…”


The declaration is then divided into various articles.
Article I:  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.  
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.  



Continued next week.


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