List of the 30 Basic Human Rights

Throughout history, humankind has seen countless notable milestones, from discovering fire and building the first civilization to developing antibiotics and establishing basic human rights. Sure, there might be some gaps in the timeline, but they’re comparable in significance.

That latest milestone officially took place in 1948, following the devastating effects of the second world war, with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The importance of this document cannot be fully understood without evaluating the historical context of this decade in particular. The Holocaust had horrified the world with direct violations of religious freedom, the right to life, and human dignity.

In direct response to the atrocities of the Holocaust, the Univeral Declaration of Human Rights was drafted by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10th of 1948. This document was the first of its kind to set out to establish and protect fundamental human rights. 

Below is a list of the articles of the Declaration of Human Rights:

Article 1 – The Right to Freedom and Equality

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.

In the wake of World War II, world leaders had to decide what the world would look like going forward. One option was a global community with a shared set of values and rules. The second, further division and endless atrocities (e.g. war, death, chaos). Happily, world leaders chose the first option. This first Article lays the groundwork for the entire Declaration by establishing one universal truth—that all humans are born free. In other words, everyone is born on a level playing field. There are no societal constraints, no reasons for one person to be treated with more or less dignity than another.

Similarly, every person is born with the ability not only to think but also to apply reason. These are traits unique to humanity—the difference between a beast and a human being. And because everyone shares that fundamental trait, they should treat each other “in a spirit of brotherhood.” 

There is a sense of kinship in sharing the essence of what makes a person a person. Overall, this Article determines that all people are equals by nature and should treat one another as such.

Article 2 – Freedom from Discrimination

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. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

While Article 1 laid the groundwork, Article 2 expands human rights into the sociopolitical realm. Since everyone is born “free and equal in dignity and rights,” the next step is to apply that status to everyday life in terms of “race, colour, sex” and every other measure of identity. This Article ensures that absolutely everyone is entitled to rights and freedom by nature of being human, regardless of their religion, political beliefs, racial background, geographical origin, native language, or material wealth. You know, the basic characteristics people are born with or born into.

The second half of this Article dives into the status of the country or region that a person belongs to. Again, historical context is key in understanding this point. The 1940s were a particularly chaotic and brutal decade, with a world at war and lines on the map being drawn and redrawn. For example, several countries in Indo-China were newly recognized as independent. Similarly, territories, for example, Poland, were redrawn as a direct consequence of World War II. This Article ensures that all people be treated equally, regardless of the current status of their country or territory—their “national or social origin.”

Article 3 – The Right to Life and Safety

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

While this one may seem like a given, after multiple World Wars and millions of lives lost, a Universal Declaration of Human Rights was needed for this point in particular. The first two rights listed within this article, “life” and “liberty,” are straightforward. Human beings have the right to live and be free, reiterating what was stated in the first two Articles. In other words, taking a person’s life and freedom via homicide or enslavement would be direct violations of these fundamental rights.

According to a statement made in 2014 by the UN’s Human Rights Committee, “security of person” refers to “freedom from injury to the body and mind.” If you’ve heard of the Eighth Amendment in the US Constitution, you know that “cruel and unusual punishment” is generally frowned upon. Similarly, under the Declaration, people cannot subject each other to extreme physical or psychological harm. To do so would require the “State” to enforce criminal laws and “prevent future injury,” according to the United Nations.

Article 4 – Freedom from Slavery

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Thus far, we’ve established that every human being is equal by nature of being human. Regardless of race, social status, country of origin, political beliefs, religion, or any other manner of demographic information, people deserve to be treated equally. If everyone sticks to this rule, there’s no room for a social hierarchy based on a perceived inferiority of one person or another. There’s no room for enslavement or forced servitude. Historically, arguments for enslavement and servitude rest upon one group of people being inherently lesser than another.

But the Universal Declaration of Human Rights obliterates this argument by establishing that none of the aforementioned factors detract from a person’s worth. In a world where human rights are universally recognized, everyone holds equal worth. Slavery and servitude stand in direct opposition to these principles, defying equal protection and human dignity. Thus, “slavery and slave trade” are forbidden.

Article 5 – Freedom from Torture or Cruel Treatment

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

This Article builds upon the “security of person” discussion in which human beings cannot cause each other extreme harm. Article 5 goes into more depth, qualifying such treatments as “torture,” “cruel,” “inhuman,” or “degrading.” To be “inhuman” is to forfeit the qualities that make you a human. In the context of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, these qualities include “reason and conscience,” though empathy could also be included. Subjecting someone to torture shows a complete lack of reason, conscience, and empathy. 

Similarly, “degrading treatment” includes any actions that demean another. These treatments and punishments don’t necessarily need to be physical, either. Being psychologically degrading or cruel are just as much of a violation of human rights.

Article 6 – The Right to Equal Treatment Everywhere

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

In plain English, this human right states that everyone deserves equal protection by the law, including in court and in the custody of law enforcement. This ties in with previous points about discriminatory measures. For example, in Article 2, there should be “no distinction” based on race, religion, geographical origin, political beliefs, religious beliefs, sex, or wealth. Thanks to the Declaration of Human Rights, everyone deserves the same treatment, especially in the eyes of the law.

Article 7 – The Right to Equal Protection from Discrimination

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.

Here we have another two-parter. The first line states that everyone is entitled to “equal protection of the law.” That is, the law is supposed to be an impartial judge, giving everyone a fair defense and administering the appropriate consequences equally. Laws are created to serve the people, after all.

Secondly, the Declaration of Human Rights protects everyone from discrimination. Discrimination would be unequal treatment based on previously discussed attributes like sex, religion, political belief, country of origin, language, or wealth. Any discriminatory practices of the law or encouragement of discrimination breaks the rules established by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

Article 8 – The Right to Protection by Law Enforcement

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.

So far, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has described the most fundamental human rights, like being born free and having the right to life and equal treatment. It has reiterated several times over that discrimination of any kind is not allowed. But what happens when some person, entity, or nation is discriminatory? What happens when one group of people is enslaved based on race or religious beliefs?

When these universal human rights are violated, the violator will be treated with an “effective remedy.” In other words, they’ll have to suffer the consequences of their actions. These consequences will be administered by “competent national tribunals,” which vary depending on the nation and caliber of the violation. After the second world war, for example, Germany had to suffer significant political and financial consequences for violating the rights of their citizens. These consequences were determined in conferences where global powers met and discussed the appropriate response to the war’s atrocities, which ended up including reparations and the surrendering of territory and population.

Article 9 – Freedom from random arrests or detainment

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

In a world that honors habeas corpus, there’s no reason for random arrests, punishments, or forced exile. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights ensures that every person has equal treatment before the law, cannot be subject to torture or cruel treatment, and has the right to liberty. Considering all of these basic rights, a person cannot be punished by the law (i.e. arrested, detained, or exiled) without going through the official legal process. There has to be a reason that’s universally recognized as appropriate for a person to be detained, arrested, or kicked out of the place they reside.

For example, an arrest for reasonable suspicion of murder wouldn’t be considered an “arbitrary arrest.” But if someone is arrested in their own home for no obvious reason, with no evidence of a crime, there isn’t a just cause for such treatment. This Article establishes that everyone has the right to live with the security of mind that they cannot be subject to arrest or other extreme actions without just cause.

Article 10 – The Right to a (Fair) Trial

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.

We’ve already established that everyone has the right to equal protection before the law. In conjunction with this right is a “fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.” Someone cannot be secretly taken in the night and locked up for a lifetime without a public hearing. No matter what the person is suspected of doing, as a human being, they are still entitled to an unbiased public hearing. The authorities cannot apply bias or discriminate against the person being presented to the court.

Only an “impartial” group of people are capable of ensuring the person charged with criminal charges receives equal treatment. This reduces the chances of that person being discriminated against based on how they look, where they’re from, or what they believe. From that point, the hearing can proceed and determine the suspect’s “rights and obligations,” also known as the potential consequences of their actions.

Article 11 – The Right to Presumed Innocence

  1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
  2. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 11 is heavy on the legal side of human rights, mostly covering the treatment of those with criminal charges made against them. In the first part of this section, the United Nations declares that everyone who is charged with breaking the law is “presumed innocent until proved guilty.” That draws from the last Article’s idea of an unbiased hearing. If the group of people responsible for ruling if the person actually committed the crime already assumed that the person is guilty, how would they be able to objectively consider the evidence they are presented with? To reduce the possibility of discriminatory practices and unfair treatment of the person under scrutiny, they must act on the assumption that the person is innocent until evidence is presented that shows otherwise. 

In the second part, this Article states that people cannot be punished for a crime that was not technically a crime at the time that they did it. Likewise, they cannot receive a harsher punishment than the one that was in place at the time that the crime was committed. All of this is to say—what’s fair is fair. It is not fair to punish someone for breaking a rule that didn’t exist when they originally acted. It is also not fair to administer a heavier punishment than existed when they originally acted.

Article 12 – The Right to Privacy

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Once again, the right to “security of person” is at play. Basic human rights include the security of knowing that those in power cannot randomly impose their power upon you by violating your home, privacy, correspondence, or reputation. This right ensures that a powerful government entity, for example, cannot randomly barge into your home or intercept your communication with another person. 

Equally important are the nonphysical violations of your rights, like attacks on “honour and reputation.” All people should be able to live their lives freely without the threat of a personal attack that could harm their sense of security, relationships, and employment opportunities. Overall, the United Nations determined that everyone has the right to live without fear of arbitrary infringements upon their personal lives.

To read a full breakdown of the right to privacy, click here: The Right to Privacy

Article 13 – The Right to Move Freely

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
  2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

In regards to the first part of Article 13, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ensures that people can move freely within their country or territory of residency. In the context of World War II, this makes complete sense. When portions of Germany were divided up and people were detained, Germany was acting in direct opposition to this fundamental human right.

This document also ensures that anyone can leave their own country or whatever country they are currently visiting. Similarly, they have the right to return to their own country. The United Nations establishes that every person has sovereignty over themselves and should be able to travel freely, regardless of where they are going or returning to.

Article 14 – The Right to Asylum

  1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
  2. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

The first half of Article 14 pertains to those escaping situations in which their human rights are being violated. When people are persecuted in their own countries for their religious beliefs, political beliefs, or any other manner of identity that’s protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they have the right to seek safety in another country. In other words, the right to seek asylum outside of your own country is a given.

In the second half of this Article, the United Nations provides a caveat for that first rule. That is, if someone has acted in a way that opposes the principles espoused by the United Nations, then they no longer have the right to seek asylum in other countries. If a person has committed crimes that are “non-political” and universally unacceptable (e.g. harming others), then that person cannot just escape the situation by leaving for another country. The first half of the Article only applies to those who have not violated the human rights of others via “non-political crimes,” such as murder.

Article 15 – The Right to a Nationality

  1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.
  2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

While “the right to a nationality” may sound strange, there are important political and legal ramifications to this statement. Essentially, the United Nations states that everyone has the right to not only have a nationality but be offered the protection of that nation. Everyone is entitled to the fundamental human rights that a nationality has to offer. Depending on the country, these basic rights may be presented differently.

The second portion of this Article states that nobody can have their nationality randomly taken from them. They also can’t be denied the right to change whatever nationality they currently hold. Without a nationality, people are not protected by the basic human rights documented in this Declaration, making them vulnerable to human rights violations. In the eyes of the United Nations, anybody and everybody is able to both have a nationality and change their nationality as they see fit, and they can never have their nationality taken without reason.

Article 16 – The Right to Marriage and Family

  1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 16 is all about marriage and family. The first statement describes the right to marry, which has no limitations as far as “race, nationality, or religion.” No matter where you come from, what you look like, or what religion you practice, you have the right to marry and have a family. Within that marriage, both partners have “equal rights” and should not be treated otherwise.

In the second statement, the United Nations declares that marriage can only happen with “free and full consent” of future spouses. No one has the right to marry someone who doesn’t consent. Nobody can be forced into a marriage. 

Finally, the family also falls under the protection of society and whatever laws are in place in their country. That last phrase, “protection by society and the State,” extends to the limitations of this right, meaning that the protection of the marriage and family is subject to national law. For example, marriage between close relatives is often prohibited, in which case the family is no longer under the protection of the State.

Article 17 – The Right to Own Property

  1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
  2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

This right is pretty self-explanatory in describing human rights that relate to property ownership. First, the ability to own property either by yourself or with others is a basic human right. Historically, this was not always the case. Certain groups of people have been deprived of this right due to discrimination over sex, race, and other factors.

Secondly, nobody can have their property randomly taken from them. emphasizing human rights relating to property ownership supports the same basic idea this Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been saying all along—everyone deserves the right to life, liberty, and “security of person.” A world where anyone can have their property forcibly taken from them at any time would be undermining these basic principles.

Article 18 – The Right to Religious Freedom

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 and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 18 goes into detail about religious freedom, which was previously mentioned as a possible source of discrimination. The United Nations declares that everyone has the right to express their religious beliefs, change their religion, and practice their religion as they see fit. In the case of “freedom of thought, conscience, and religion,” this Article states that basic human rights include intellectual and spiritual freedom. While other Articles address the physical manifestations of freedom, like not being randomly arrested or having your property taken from you, this Article protects the right to follow a certain belief system or school of thought.

In regards to the practice of religion, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guards your right to openly express and practice your religious beliefs in both public or private settings, alone or with others. Historically and in the present day, groups of people have been persecuted, detained, exiled, and even killed for their religious beliefs. But under the United Nations, such discriminatory measures are unacceptable.

Article 19 – The Right to Freedom of Expression

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

This section of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects the right to hold opinions and express those opinions as you see fit. Everyone can not only have opinions that differ from the mainstream or predominant schools of thought, but they can also share their opinions without any obstacles. Article 19 specifically refers to looking for, finding, and spreading information through “any media and regardless of frontiers.” In modern times, that could look like sharing an opinion through social media, billboards, physical newspapers, and whatever other form of communication you can imagine.

What would a violation of this right look like? Today, it might look like a country’s government blocking its citizens’ access to certain news sources, effectively blocking the spread of ideas and opinions. This is, of course, a direct violation of the right to freedom of expression.

Article 20 – The Right to Peaceful Assembly

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
  2. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 18 previously addressed the right to religious freedom and expression both in public and in private. Article 20 runs in the same vein by protecting the right to assemble and associate. In other words, it is a basic human right to be able to meet as a group, perhaps to back a particular cause, as long as that assembly is peaceful. Once a group of people meets without intentions of keeping the peace, that assembly is no longer protected.

Just as important as the right to associate is the right to not associate. The second part of this Article states that nobody can be forced to join a particular group. It is everyone’s right to join an association of their own accord and also to not join one.

Article 21 – The Right to Democracy

  1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
  2. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
  3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

While the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is meant to be applied, you know, universally, at the time of its creation there were many countries and territories politically in flux. The first part of Article 21 says that everyone is entitled to participate in their country’s government, whether it’s directly or indirectly through elected representatives. Governments that do not involve their citizens are in direct violation of this right.

The United Nations goes on to say in the second line that everyone is entitled to public service in their country. Examples of public service include health care, education, and law enforcement. That is, everyone has the right to equal access to the basic services a society needs to survive. 

Lastly, Article 21 touches on the expression of a society’s will through government. A government entity cannot operate by itself. Instead, there has to be “universal and equal suffrage” with authentic elections. It is everyone’s right to be properly represented in their government, which was created to serve the people in the first place.

Article 22 – The Right to Social Security

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 22 states that everyone has the right to “social security.” While this phrase is largely recognized in a financial context, it also applies to “social and cultural rights.” Basically, it is the responsibility of each country or territory to make sure it meets the basic needs of its people. As far as “the free development of his personality,” the country must do everything in its power to first meet basic needs and then create an environment in which people can become whoever they want to be. Only when people have access to the basics (i.e. safety, health care, education) can they rise to their potential. 

Article 23 – The Right to Work Protection

  1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
  4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

This Article addresses human rights that relate to employment, equal pay, and trade unions. First up is where you work. The United Nations determined that everyone has the right to work and the right to choose where they work. That means that you can’t be forced into working somewhere that doesn’t have “favourable conditions.” You also have the right to “protection against unemployment,” which means financial compensation in the event that you lose your job.

Second, everyone has the right to “equal pay for equal work.” Employers should not discriminate based on sex, race, or any other characteristics. One of your basic human rights is being paid what the next person is paid for doing the same job. 

Third, everyone has the right to be paid enough to be able to support themselves and their family. Human beings only have so much time in their lives, and they are entitled to fair compensation for working and sacrificing that time. If they are not paid enough to support their household, then other “means of social protection” should be made available, such as welfare and other funds or resources. 

Finally, everyone has the right to join trade unions. Trade unions are specific to certain fields, and they are used to protect wages and other human rights in the workplace. The Declaration of Universal Human Rights ensures that everyone can either form or join trade unions to protect their rights and livelihood.

Article 24 – The Right to Leisure

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Would you have guessed that rest and relaxation would make this list of human rights? Sure enough, Article 24 protects your basic human right to “rest and leisure.” This means that you can only work a certain amount of hours per week and have paid holidays off. Aside from other basic human rights, such as freedom of expression and representation in government, your right to sit back and relax is just as important. After all, humans are beings, not doings. The United Nations recognizes that humans should not be working all day every day and need time to simply rest.

Article 25 – The Right to Adequate Standard of Living/Basic Needs

  1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
  2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 25 addresses human rights that involve standards of living, motherhood, and the rights of children. In the first part, this Article states that everyone has the right to have their fundamental needs met. That means access to food, clothes, housing, health care, and “social services” that kick in when something unexpected alters the course of your life. Basically, it is your right to live a decent life and have security when circumstances out of your control change your life.

The second half applies to the rights of mothers and children, who have the right to “special care and assistance.” This Declaration recognizes that motherhood and childhood are statuses that need extra support, and it is a basic human right to receive that support.

Article 26 – The Right to Education

  1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
  2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
  3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 26 addresses the right to education, which should be required and free in the “fundamental stages.” That means that all children and adolescents should have access to free education. Similarly, higher education that prepares people for future careers should be made available to everyone equally based on their abilities (“on the basis of merit”). 

Next, education should help people develop a sense of universal kinship or “brotherhood” as described in Article 2. Education should teach people about human rights and how to respect them, which in turn will dissuade people from discriminating against each other.

The third point briefly addresses the parents’ role in education in that they get to choose what kind of education their child receives.

Article 27 – The Right to Protection of Original Work

  1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
  2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

This Article says that everyone is entitled to participate in the “cultural life” of their community, whether that be in the arts or sciences. The Declaration recognizes that everyone has the right to enjoy the arts as well as scientific discovery and advancement. Both help fulfill the human spirit.

Similarly, everyone who engages in the arts and sciences has the right to protect any “moral and material interests” that result from their endeavors. That is, if you discover something in the sciences or create something in the arts, you should be able to take credit for your creations and discoveries. Nobody can steal that from you.

Article 28 – The Right to Fair and Free world

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 28 is short and sweet. It says that everyone deserves to live in a world where all the human rights listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are protected. If every human being could recognize the rights in this list and respect them, the world would be a place based on tolerance and kinship rather than division.

Article 29 – Due Diligence of the Individual/Respect Human Rights

  1. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
  2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
  3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

While listing human rights is within the United Nations’ power, they cannot control everyone’s actions. In Article 29, they implore people to do their part in acknowledging and respecting human rights on a global scale. Only by each individual’s effort can the world start a new order based on tolerance and respect. Second, everyone must follow the rules of society in order to maintain order. Only by agreeing upon and living by these shared rules and laws can all people appreciate their rights. There have to be consequences when those rules are broken, and those consequences could mean the violation of some of these rights. 

Finally, everyone who recognizes this list of human rights should act in accordance with the principles of the United Nations. They should live their lives with tolerance and peace just as the United Nations says to do. Acting against the United Nations means that you will not have their ideological support, forfeiting any moral or physical support they could have provided.

Article 30 – Protect/Preserve Human Rights

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

The last Article on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that no part of this document gives anyone the right to destroy any of the stated human rights. This list enumerates human rights and does not encourage the destruction of them. To violate any of the rights on this list would be a misinterpretation of the document.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Conclusion

Whether it’s the right to engage in cultural life, access to technical and professional education, or simply enjoying the right to life, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights covers it all. While this Declaration was made almost a century ago, all human rights on this list still apply today. However, they are better understood in the context of the time they were declared, considering the state of the world at the time.

The early 1940s witnessed a singularly horrific violation of human rights. The total disregard for human life based upon religious and racial discrimination during the Holocaust demanded a global reevaluation of human life. Through this abhorrent piece of history, the groundwork for international human rights law was laid with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Though it was built on tragedy, this Declaration paved the way for a global community unified through the human experience.


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