Contemplating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

By:Alice Nah

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.

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

The truth is that human beings are still suffering from warfare, poverty, torture, and violations of their freedoms and dignity.

We have_

migrant workers whose work permits get cancelled when they complain of unpaid wages — they have no effective means of obtaining redress, because they are considered “illegal” and are subject to arrest, detention and deportation before the courts make decisions on their cases.

We have _

  1. refugees who are whipped for immigration offences,
  2. stateless people who spend years in detention in squalid conditions,
  3. and children who are sentenced to indefinite incarceration.

How do we make sense of these realities in society?

How do we judge if these are morally and legally right? How to do we set limits on the treatment of our fellow men and women, regardless of their background?

This is the purpose of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — to guide our actions and decisions so that we respect the fundamental human dignity of one another no matter what our differences.

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UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Preamble

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,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

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Universal Degeneration of Human Rights (UDHR)

Universal Degeneration of Human Rights (UDHR)

Injustice, inequality and impunity

Extracts from K Shan | Jun 2,08, in Malaysiakini

Sixty years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations, people are still being_

  • tortured
  • and ill-treated in at least 81 countries,
  • face unfair trials in at least 54 countries
  • and are not allowed to speak freely in at least 77 countries.

burma yangon massive anti junta protest 250907 monksThese details from the Amnesty International report on 2007 also under the unfortunate fact that injustice, inequality and impunity have become the hallmark of governments today.

Six years into the so-called ‘war on terror’, the US continues to hold hundreds of people in indefinite military detention without charge or trial in Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, in addition to the thousands held in Iraq.

In August, large-scale protests began in Myanmar against the government’s economic and political policies. At least 31 people – but likely, more than 100 – were killed in the subsequent crackdown by the authorities. A similar number was thought to be the victims of enforced disappearance.

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