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Universal Declaration of Human Rights

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the full text of which appears in the following pages. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and “to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.”


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,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1.

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.

Article 2.

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.

Article 3.

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

Article 4.

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

Article 5.

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

Article 6.

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

Article 7.

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.

Article 8.

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.

Article 9.

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

Article 10.

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.

Article 11.

(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 12.

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.

Article 13.

(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.

Article 14.

(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.

Article 15.

(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.

Article 16.

(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 17.

(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.

Article 18.

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 19.

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.

Article 20.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.

(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.

Article 22.

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 23.

(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.

Article 24.

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

Article 25.

(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 26.

(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 27.

(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.

Article 28.

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 29.

(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.

Article 30.

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.

Source: UN

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Timothy Egan: Faith of Our Fathers

Watching the polygamists in West Texas come into the sunlight of the 21st century has been jarring, making you feel like a voyeur of some weird historical episode.

You see these 1870 Stepford wives with the braided buns and long dresses, these men with their low monotones and pious, seeming disregard for the law on child sex — and wonder: who opened the time capsule?

But when Texas authorities removed 437 children earlier this month from the compound of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints they did more than give Larry King something to talk about between anorexia stories of the stars. They gave us all a glimpse into what a religion was like before it took on the patina of time — with the statues, murals and polished narratives.

Religion has always been about faith and a certain degree of mythology. It’s pointless to argue whether the Red Sea actually parted, or if Jesus turned water into wine to keep a wedding party going, or if the freezing of the Mississippi River was one of the miracles that allowed early Mormons to flee persecution and build a theocracy in the desert.

Faith is a moving thing; witness the throng in Yankee Stadium who came away in a fever of fellowship after listening to the Pope last weekend, or the 55,000 moved to practice random acts of compassion by the Dalai Lama at Qwest Field in Seattle two weeks ago.

But religion can also be used as an excuse for awful behavior – from the torture of the Roman Catholic Inquisition, to beheadings by Jihadist killers, to the sexual manipulation of children by early Mormons and their latter-day sects.

Mormonism is the most homegrown of American religions, and the fastest-growing in the Western Hemisphere. There are more Mormons in the United States than Presbyterians. The church has been vocal about denouncing the renegade Mormons in Texas, and quick to point out that it abandoned polygamy in 1890, as a condition of Utah’s statehood.

For a long time, though, the church was at odds with basic American ideals, and not just because old guys sanctioned marital sex with dozens of teenage girls. What you see in Texas — in small part — is a look back at some of the behavior of Mormonism’s founding fathers.

When Mitt Romney, in his December speech about his religion, said, “My faith is the faith of my fathers — I will be true to them and to my beliefs,” he was taking on a load of historical baggage.

His faith was founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith Jr., an itinerant treasure-seeker from upstate New York who used a set of magic glasses to translate a lost scripture from God. His personality was infectious, the religion very approachable.

It would have been just another Christian faith had not Smith let his libido lead him into trouble. Before he died at the hands of a mob, he married at least 33 women and girls; the youngest was 14, and was told she had to become Smith’s bedmate or risk eternal damnation.

Smith was fortunate to find a religious cover for his desire. His polygamy “revelation” was put into The Doctrine and Covenants, one of three sacred texts of Mormonism. It’s still there – the word of God. And that’s why, to the people in the compound at Eldorado, the real heretics are in Salt Lake City.

As his biographer, Fawn Brodie, wrote, Joseph Smith “could not rest until he had redefined the nature of sin and erected a stupendous theological edifice to support his new theories on marriage.”

Smith was also a commander-in-chief of his own militia, and a candidate for President, running on a platform of “bringing the dominion of the Kingdom of God” over the United States. His successor, Brigham Young, married 57 women – a harem that attracted curious libertines like Sir Richard Burton to study the American social experiment.

And when the church set up a huge polygamous theocracy in the West, President James Buchanan was forced in the 1850s to send an army of 2,500 – nearly one-sixth of American forces – to uphold the law.

The church did not give up its sexual practices without a long fight. As late as 1880, as Jon Krakauer notes in his book “Under the Banner of Heaven,” Mormon leaders preached that polygamy was above the laws of the land. The church’s then-supreme leader, John Taylor, said that polygamy “has been handed down directly from God. The United States cannot abolish it.”

Fast forward to this century, when the polygamist group makes the same argument at their West Texas compound and at their earlier one in Colorado City, on the Utah-Arizona border. I was at that Colorado City compound, twice in the last four years. It spooked me: the gnarly old men and their child brides, the creepy guards in their pickup trucks, the sing-songy women tending to a dozen children in houses the size of a Motel 6. They were ripping off the state, living on welfare and food stamps, even as they defied civil authorities.

In Colorado City, I spent time with DeLoy Bateman, a high school science teacher, who told of losing his daughter after church authorities ordered her to leave her husband and marry her father-in-law – a man twice her age.

And despite the best efforts of the wealthy, modern Mormon church to leave a big part of its past behind, some Mormons still support the defiance of modern-day polygamist leaders, judging by the comments of Saints who are appalled by the breakup of the compound in Texas.

“Back then, we were the ones in the compound,” wrote Guy Murray, a Mormon lawyer who writes a blog on his faith. He should be applauded for his honesty. But I’m not sure I’d want to be holding that baton of belief, passed through years. Sometimes, the faith of our fathers is better left to the revisionists.

* New York Times
* http://egan.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/faith-of-our-fathers/index.html?ref=opinion

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Geoffrey Wheatcroft: When leaders lie, children die

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”

Not this tide.

“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”

Not with this wind blowing, and this tide…

Nothing Rudyard Kipling ever wrote was more moving than the poem that begins with these lines, and whose title, “My Boy Jack”, is borrowed by the moving, glossily cast television drama shown this Remembrance Sunday evening. The tragedy of the Kipling family was a vignette of the horror of the Great War.

But this morning, at “the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”, with the two minutes’ silence followed by “The Last Post” to mark the moment when the Great War ended in 1918, that story is also a reproach to our own age, which, though far from abjuring war, has forgotten the meaning of duty or sacrifice for another year.

Shortly after he became prime minister, Tony Blair said: “Ours is the first generation able to contemplate that we may live our entire lives without going to war or sending our children to war.”

His words acquired an ironical ring after 10 years in which he took this country into more wars than any premier before him.

And yet there is a sense – a most repellent one – in which he was right. A New York Times story on Thursday carried a headline: “2007 is deadliest year for US troops in Iraq”. The story subsequently related that so far this year 805 Americans have been killed in Iraq. Today, we are supposed to be dismayed by that – but what would they have made of it in the days when we fought real wars, and suffered in them?

Even those who find Kipling displeasing or disturbing should recognise that he was not only a great but a far-seeing writer. His biographer, David Gilmour, puts it well: “Pessimists and reactionaries make the best prophets because they can see behind as well as beyond contemporary viewpoints.”

Kipling predicted Afrikaner racial tyranny in South Africa decades before apartheid, just as he foresaw Hitler and another war, after prophesying for years before 1914 that Germany would plunge Europe into war.

Having warned against German militarism, and preached resistance to it, when the war came, a sense of duty told him that his family must not be exempt from any sacrifice. John Kipling – his boy Jack – weedy and severely short-sighted, failed more than one Army medical. But his father, the great bard of Empire and friend of the mighty, pulled every string he could to see that Jack was commissioned in the Irish Guards.

Jack was killed, of course, almost as soon as he went into action at Loos, in the autumn of 1915, less famous or infamous now than the Somme or Passchendaele, but an appallingly bloody battle.

In another intolerably poignant verse, Kipling wrote:

My son was killed while laughing at some jest. I would I knew

What it was, and it might serve me in a time when jests are few.

Far from laughing, there is no reason to think that Jack was anything but painfully wounded, blinded by rain, and terrified.

To make it worse, Jack was “missing”. His bereft parents scoured army hospitals and interviewed dozens of soldiers for more than two years until they accepted, for certain, that their son was dead. Which is to say that Jack Kipling was one of an awe-inspiring total of 300,000 British soldiers of that war who had no known grave. It was to commemorate them that one unidentifiable body – the unknown warrior – was buried at Westminster Abbey, while the myriad graves of unidentified soldiers bear the inscription, again by Kipling, “Known Unto God”.

Those missing were among a total of 750,000 British dead in the First World War, to be joined by another 300,000 in the Second World War. And those figures put into startling perspective “Coalition” casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq – remarkable not because they are so large but because they are so small. By the time the war has lasted five years, next spring, American fatalities in Iraq may have reached 4,000, and British 200. At Loos and on the Somme, and at El Alamein or on D-Day, hundreds of British solders were killed not within years or months but within hours or even minutes.

As Sir Max Hastings writes on page 40, the scars – mental and physical – of today are felt every bit as much as they were in the past. Norms are different. We have changed, and in a most significant way. During the Kosovo campaign, which saw the bombing of Serbia accompanied by a marked reluctance to commit Western ground forces, one French general bitterly wondered whether we had bred a generation of soldiers ready to kill but not to die. Another asked if we had now reached the age of wars in which only civilians were killed.

That was indeed more or less the case, and Iraq is the perfect Blairite or New Labour war. British dead are measured by the hundred, while Iraqis killed are numbered by the hundred thousand. And this is a political necessity, since if anything remotely like the casualties we sustained during the wars of the first half of the 20th century had been expected in Iraq, then we would never have embarked on the war at all.

What’s true of us as a nation is especially true of our political class. The present government comprises more than 100 men and women, not one of whom has any kind of military experience whatsoever. Compare them with their predecessors: in the First World War, no fewer than 22 sitting MPs were killed in action, and every one of the four prime ministers from 1940 to 1963 had previously served as an infantry officer in that war.

As Orwell said in 1940, the traditional ruling class may have been selfish when it came to surrendering property or power for the good of the nation, but not when it came to laying down their lives for their country, as you could see by the number of aristocratic names on the casualty lists. In fact, the rich made a disproportionate sacrifice in both world wars, especially 1914-18, if only because casualties among junior officers such as Jack Kipling were so high. Of the men who went up to Oxford in 1913, 31 per cent were killed over the next five years. How many Oxford graduates are serving in combat now?

In America, this has been much debated, as in the recent book AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes from Military Service – and How It Hurts Our Country, by Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer. Notoriously, the Bush administration is composed of “chickenhawks”– men who, like the president himself, used a well-known ruse to avoid active service in Vietnam, such as Dick Cheney, who had “other priorities” when he should have been drafted for that war.

At the time of Vietnam, “it is inconceivable that a system designed and operating the way the draft did could have produced a true cross-section of America in the military”. That was the verdict of Donald Rumsfeld, and he should know. Remember those one-in-three Oxford undergraduates killed, or my own old Oxford college whose 1914-18 memorial in the chapel bears the names of 228 men – and another 135 in 1939-45 – and remember another figure: just 12 Harvard men died in Vietnam.

But the question is even more pressing here. Only one member of either house of Congress, Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, has a son serving in Iraq; how many MPs do? In the Great War, 85 sons of MPs were killed – quite apart from their own military experience, or lack of it, is there a single Labour MP today with a son or daughter serving in the armed forces? In the war in which Kipling lost a son, so did two prime ministers, Asquith and Bonar Law.

While Tony Blair trots the globe looking for new ways to make money, it’s worth noting that he has two sons of his own who are of military age. Does he ever suffer from Kipling’s sense of obligation and guilt? When asked, he said that he would be delighted (what else could he say?) if one of his sons were to join the Army and serve in Iraq. The fact is that neither has done so, and there is little reason to think that there was much paternal pressure to join the colours.

But then, as I say, this day of all days reminds us that we do not live in a sacrificial age. Our politicians have shown a truly impressive fortitude when it comes to contemplating vast death tolls directly or indirectly inflicted by us, as long as they are in distant countries and among people who don’t vote here.

One last epitaph for the Great War by Kipling was the most bitterly self-reproachful of all:

If any question why we died,

Tell them, because our fathers lied.

Change “fathers” to “rulers”, and that has never been more true.

* http://comment.independent.co.uk/commentators/article3149964.ece

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