Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world…

So begins a remarkable document, ratified by the United Nations in 1948, which might serve as a prescription for the political, economic and culture future of “our human family”.

Beginning with “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person,” explicitly proscribing slavery and torture, the document goes on to establish

  • a right of asylum from any abusive regime
  • a right to free association, and to marry whom one wishes
  • free expression and protest

and then, establishing affirmative rights

  • universal right to education
  • right to fair, democratic, representative government
  • “the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.”
  • free choice of employment.  access to a labor union
  • “a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family…”
  • cultural life and the arts
  • etc.

Today, this is all economically feasible.  We need only the will to hold ourselves and our elected officials accountable to providing it.

Illustrated edition of Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Both the substance and the politics involved in getting this document adopted were supplied by Eleanor Roosevelt, born this day in 1874.

Illustration byYacine Ait Kaci, © 2015 United Nations

 

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