Unknown to many, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights covers every aspect of a person’s life.
In 2018, I had been urged by senior readers and others to keep writing about topics that still interest them, such as timely sociocivic issues and relevant life tips that go beyond the usual challenges which are an inevitable part of aging.
Let us greet 2019 by reaffirming the human lifestyle to which we are all entitled.
Last Dec. 10, celebrated worldwide as International Human Rights Day, a major news item declared “Human rights violated daily—UN.” Human rights violations are a burning topic today, having proliferated around the world with the rise of “populist” and “extremist” leaders.
Backtracking a bit, in the aftermath of World War II, vowing never again to allow the horrendous atrocities committed in that period (remember the Holocaust), world leaders decided to complement the UN Charter with a comprehensive roadmap to guarantee the rights of every individual everywhere in the world.
Thus, on Dec. 10, 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The Philippines was a proud signatory of this historic document.
The world celebrated the 70th anniversary of the UDHR on Dec. 10, 2018. To highlight its universal acceptance, the UDHR today has 503 official translations, making it the world’s “Most Translated Document,” according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Because of its comprehensiveness, it may arguably be called the “mother” of contemporary human rights documents. I believe it is a must-read for every person in the world, especially those living in third-world countries and nondemocratic states.
This document defines every person’s inherent rights to freely choose the life he or she wishes to live, while protecting him or her in the process— something we take for granted but which many people still do not enjoy. The UDHR provides the indispensable guide to the eventual liberation of all humanity and fulfillment of its potential.
The UDHR is a long document. To make it easily accessible, and with some help from Google, I have simplified the rights I believe matter most to people like you and me.
Born free and equal
Here is my best-effort capsule version:
Basic Personal Rights. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights; the UDHR applies to everyone regardless of race, color, sex, religion, politics, nationality and his country’s status; the right to life, liberty and security of person; no to slavery, servitude and the slave trade; no to torture or cruel and degrading punishment.
Legal Rights. The right to legal recognition everywhere as a person and to equal protection before the law; no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile; the right to a fair and public trial, and to be presumed innocent until proven guilty; the right to one’s privacy, honor and reputation.
Nationality and Freedom of Movement. The right to freedom of movement and residence in one’s country, to leave and return to one’s country; the right to seek asylum in other countries; the right to a nationality, and not to be deprived of one’s nationality, and to change one’s nationality.
Marriage, Family and Property. The right to freely marry and to found a family for men and women of legal age; the family is the basic unit of society and should be protected by society and the State; the right to own and keep one’s property.
Freedom of thought
Rights of Belief and Expression. The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religious belief; the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and to access and impart important information; the right to peaceful assembly and association, and not to be compelled to belong to a group.
Rights Relating to Government. The right to participate in government directly or through freely chosen representatives; the right of equal access to public service; government authority is based on the will of the people through free and periodic elections.
Social Rights. The right to social security (economic social and cultural); the right to choose one’s work, fair working conditions, equal pay for equal work, adequate standard of living, and to join trade unions; special protection for mothers and children, legitimate or not; the right to free basic education and to higher education based on merit.
Cultural, Artistic and Scientific Rights. The right to participate in the community’s cultural life, the arts and the benefits of scientific advancements; the right to protection of scientific, literary and artistic ownership.
The UDHR serves as a universal template covering all of humanity’s basic, civil, social and political rights, many of which are expressed in the Bill of Rights of democratic states, including our own 1987 Constitution.
Unfortunately, in our country, thousands of unsolved “EJKs,” the stretching of the law to harass political critics and dissenters, and some questionable high-profile decisions of our judicial courts do not reflect adherence to the spirit of the UDHR.
The repeated extension of martial law in Mindanao, questioned by many but recently approved for another year by Congress, is a real cause for concern.
A silver lining, at least in theory, is the scheduled holding of the midterm elections in May, when, hopefully, the true will of the people will once more be manifested.
“The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” —John F. Kennedy –CONTRIBUTED