What are Human Rights?
Human rights are the rights a person possesses simply because he or she is a human being. Human rights are held by all persons equally, universally, and forever. Human rights are inalienable: you cannot lose these rights any more than you can cease being a human being. Human rights are indivisible: you cannot be denied a right because it is “less important” or “non-essential.” Human rights are interdependent: all human rights are part of a complementary framework. For example, your ability to participate in your government is directly affected by your right to express yourself, to get an education, and even to obtain the necessities of life.
To violate someone’s human rights is to treat that person without dignity as though she or he were not a human being. To advocate for human rights is to demand that the human dignity of all people be respected. In claiming these human rights, everyone also accepts the responsibility not to infringe on the rights of others and to support those whose rights are abused or denied.
Human rights are both inspirational and practical. Human rights principles hold up the vision of a free, just, and peaceful world and set minimum standards for how individuals and institutions everywhere should treat people. Human rights also empower people with a framework for action when those minimum standards are not met, for people still have human rights even if the laws or those in power do not recognize or protect them.
We experience our human rights every day when we worship according to our belief, or choose not to worship at all; when we debate and criticize government policies; when we join a trade union; when we travel to other parts of the country or overseas. Although we usually take these actions for granted, people both here in our country and in other countries do not enjoy all these liberties equally. Human rights violations occur when a parent abuses a child, when a family is homeless, when a school provides inadequate education, when women are paid less than men, or when one person steals from another. Human rights are an everyday issue.
ABRREVIATED VERSION OF THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Article 1: Right to Equality
Article 2: Freedom from Discrimination
Article 3: Right to Life, Liberty, and Personal Security
Article 4: Freedom from Slavery
Article 5: Freedom from Torture and Degrading Treatment
Article 6: Right to Recognition as a Person before the Law
Article 7: Right to Equality before the Law
Article 8: Right to Remedy by Competent Tribunal
Article 9: Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest and Exile
Article 10: Right to Fair Public Hearing
Article 11: Right to be Considered Innocent until ProvenGuilty
Article 12: Freedom from Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, and Correspondence
Article 13: Right to Free Movement in and out of theCountry
Article 14: Right to Asylum in other Countries from Persecution
Article 15: Right to a Nationality and the Freedom to Change It
Article 16: Right to Marriage and Family
Article 17: Right to Own Property
Article 18: Freedom of Belief and Religion
Article 19: Freedom of Opinion and Information
Article 20: Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Article 21: Right to Participate in Government and in Free Elections
Article 22: Right to Social Security
Article 23: Right to Desirable Work and to Join Trade Unions
Article 24: Right to Rest and Leisure
Article 25: Right to Adequate Living Standard
Article 26: Right to Education
Article 27: Right to Participate in the Cultural Life ofCommunity
Article 28: Right to a Social Order that Articulates this Document
Article 29: Right to fulfill Community Duties Essential to Free and Full Development
Article 30: Freedom from State or Personal Interference in the above Rights
UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS: SIMPLIFIED VERSION
All human beings are born free and equal. You are worth the same, and have the same rights as anyone else. You are born with the ability to think and to know right from wrong, and should act toward others in a spirit of friendliness.
Everyone should have all the rights and freedoms in this statement, no matter what race, sex, or color he or she may be. It shouldn’t matter where you were born, what language you speak, what religion you are, what political opinions you have, or whether you’re rich or poor. Everyone should have all of the rights in this statement.
Everyone has the right to live, to be free, and to feel safe.
No one should be held in slavery for any reason. The buying and selling of human beings should be prevented at all times.
No one shall be put through torture, or any other treatment or punishment that is cruel, or makes him or her feel less than human.
Everyone has the right to be accepted everywhere as a person, according to law.
You have the right to be treated equally by the law, and to have the same protection under the law as anyone else. Everyone should have protection from being treated in ways that go against this document, and from having anyone cause others to go against the rights in this document.
If your rights under the law are violated, you should have the right to fair and skillful judges who will see that justice is done.
No one shall be arrested, held in jail, or thrown and kept out of her or his own country for no good reason.
You have the same right as anyone else to a fair and public hearing by courts that will be open-minded and free to make their own decisions if you are ever accused of breaking the law, or if you have to go to court for some other reason.
1 If you are blamed for a crime, you have the right to be thought of as innocent until you are proven guilty, according to the law, in a fair and public trial where you have the basic things you need to defend yourself.
2 No one shall be punished for anything that was not illegal when it happened. Nor can anyone be given a greater punishment than the one that applied when the crime was committed.
No one has the right to butt in to your privacy, home, or mail, or attack your honesty and self-respect for no good reason. Everyone has the right to have the law protect him or her against all such meddling or attacks.
1 Within any country you have the right to go and live where you want.
2 You have the right to leave any country, including your own, and return to it when you want.
1 Everyone has the right to seek shelter from harassment in another country.
2 This right does not apply in cases where the person has done something against the law that has nothing to do with politics, or when she or he has done something that is against what the United Nations is all about.
1 You have a right to a nationality.
2 No one shall be denied their nationality or the right to change their nationality.
1 Grown men and women have the right to marry and start a family, without anyone trying to stop them or make it hard because of their race, country, or religion. Both partners have equal rights in getting married, during the marriage, and if and when they decide to end it.
2 A marriage shall take place only with the agreement of the couple.
3 The family is the basic part of society, and should be protected by it.
1 Everyone has the right to have belongings that they can keep alone, or share with other people.
2 No one has the right to take your things away from you for no good reason.
You have the right to believe the things you want to believe, to have ideas about right and wrong, and to believe in any religion you want. This includes the right to change your religion if you want, and to practice it without anybody interfering.
You have the right to tell people how you feel about things without being told that you have to keep quiet. You have the right to read the newspaper or listen to the radio without someone trying to stop you, no matter where you live. Finally, you have the right to print your opinions in a newspaper or magazine, and send them anywhere without having someone try to stop you.
1 You have the right to gather peacefully with people, and to be with anyone you want.
2 No one can force you to join or belong to any group.
1 You have the right to be part of your government by being in it, or choosing the people who are in fair elections.
2 Everyone has the right to serve her or his country in some way.
3 The first job of any government is to do what its people want it to do. This means you have the right to have elections every so often, where each person’s vote counts the same, and where everyone’s vote is his or her own business.
Everyone, as a person on this planet, has the right to have her or his basic needs met, and should have whatever it takes to live with pride, and become the person he or she wants to be. Every country or group of countries should do everything they possibly can to make this happen.
1 You have the right to work and to choose your job, to have fair and safe working conditions, and to be protected against not having work.
2 You have the right to the same pay as anyone else who does the same work, without anyone playing favorites.
3 You have the right to decent pay so that you and your family can get by with pride. That means that if you don’t get paid enough to do that, you should get other kinds of help.
4 You have the right to form or be part of a union that will serve and protect your interests.
Everyone has the right to rest and relaxation, which includes limiting the number of hours he or she has to work, and allowing for holidays with pay once in a while.
You have the right to have what you need to live a decent life, including food, clothes, a home, and medical care for you and your family. You have the right to get help from society if you’re sick or unable to work, if you’re older or a widow, or if you’re in any other kind of situation that keeps you from working through no fault of your own.
1 Everyone has the right to an education. It should be free of charge, and should be required for all, at least in the early years. Later education for jobs and college has to be there for anyone who wants it and is able to do it.
2 The idea of education is to help people become the best they can be. It should teach them to respect and understand each other, and to be kind to everyone, no matter who they are or where they are from. Education should help to promote the activities of the United Nations in an effort to create a peaceful world.
1 You have the right to join in and be part of the world of art, music, and books. You have the right to enjoy the arts, and to share in the advantages that come from new discoveries in the sciences.
2 You have the right to get the credit and any profit that comes from something that you have written, made, or discovered.
Everyone has the right to the kind of world where their rights and freedoms, such as the ones in this statement, are respected and made to happen.
1 You have a responsibility to the place you live and the people around you-we all do. Only by watching out for each other can we each become our individual best.
2 In order to be free, there have to be laws and limits that respect everyone’s rights, meet our sense of right and wrong, and keep the peace in a world where we all play an active part.
3 Nobody should use her or his freedom to go against what the United Nations is all about.
There is nothing in this statement that says that anybody has the right to do anything that would weaken or take away these rights.