Universal Human Rights

The Declaration of Independence states:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

     For this reasons citizens of the US seem to forget that there are people out there who do not have the rights and freedoms guaranteed to citizens of the US.  The United Nations has among it’s many bills and rights a statement about human rights quite similar to the Declaration.  The name of this document is: The Declaration of Universal Human Rights.  Part of the goal of the UN is to help all people throughout the world obtain these rights where these rights are being ignored.

There are many objections to this declaration.  People wonder if there are in fact such things as universal human values and universal human rights.  To some people it seems unethical to push these rights on to cultures whose way of life is different than ours.  They feel “Who are we to make them change their ways?”  An ethicist would call their views that of an ethical subjective.  They feel that there can be no ultimate “true” morals as everything is based on our perceptions.

People who maintain that ethical philosophy are skeptical towards ethical objectivity.  An ethical objectivist is one who believes that there are some universal moral truths but they may be hard to know.  The declaration of Universal human Rights was written from the point of moral objectivity.

    One of the declarations of human rights is that any citizen has the right to move freely around their country and to leave their country to return later on.  In North Korea this very right has been ignored.  According to Article 13:

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.

In North Korea it has always been difficult for visitors to get around.  It has even been documented that those who try to offer aid to those with need in North Korea have never been able to fully get the people they were supposed to aid.  During the world cup last year there were very few North Koreans allowed to go to the games aside from the team.  It seems that this country likes to keep to itself and deal with their problems in their own ways.

In North Korea only the richest and uppermost governmental officials are allowed to own homes and transportation.  It is also not uncommon for entire families to be relocated by a governmental order for no real reason.

Every human deserves a chance to see the world around them.  Even if they personally do not wish to visit other places they should not be denied that right.   The world is our home.  For that reason we deserve to travel to see all of it.  Aside from freedom of movement, there is also freedom of owning your own home.  This is outlined in article 17.

Article 17 states:

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.

There is no reason why any family should ever be forcibly removed from their homes and relocated.  Every person in the world deserves a place to call home. My home is very important to me.  I would not be willing to just up and leave because the government said so with out a damn good reason.  My home is a place I am willing to fight for.

          Governments should make sure that the people of that country have food, clothing, employment, and housing.  When the people of a country are being moved, they loose interest in work.  If you don’t have reliable housing and are constantly moving, how can you ever actually feel as if you are home?  For this reason it is important that all humans have access to the right of a home and the right to visit other homes and other lands.

     As mentioned before this right is being ignored in North Korea with the families being given little to no advance notice.  Those people deserve a chance to have a real home.  It is not unreasonable for people to have a place to live where they can bathe, eat, sleep, and be safe.  We all need shelter.  To remove people forcibly from their homes is unethical and needs to be stopped.  Not a single person should be homeless.

     There is one more article that we take for granted.  Here in the US and in countries that follow the UN’s Declaration of Universal Human rights is the right to criticize our governments freely and openly.  We are free to speak our minds.  We don’t have to worry about loosing our homes or jobs simply for what we say against the government.  The article states:

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.

North Korea once again violates this universal human right.  While in practice they have a constitution that allows for some freedom of expression and press, in reality all of the media outlets are controlled by the government.  Citizens are not allowed to alter their TV’s in any way that would allow them to gain access to content outside of Korean soil.  Simply by making a statement against the government a citizen could be arrested or sent off to a “reeducation” camp.

It is important that every one be heard.  We all deserve a chance to let the government know what we think.  Even if the changes made are small, and they take time, the fact that people are out in the streets getting their voices heard is important.  Change can only be made when people know what needs to be changed.

It is thanks to the UN and programs like Amnesty International that people are able to obtain access to these basic rights.  The purpose of the declaration of  Universal Human Rights was to define the rights that all humans have.  Now we just need to work on applying these rights to every one.

  1. This essay here was an example of my view of how there in reality is no such thing as universal human rights. There are values that many cultures share, but when you look at the core and the context with in each culture those values may be viewed in completely different lights. I am in support of various “human rights acts” such as providing medical assassinate and in some cases scholarships/financial assistance in Africa. I believe all life is sacred.

    While I might not agree with all religious and cultural acts done by various indigenous tribes, who am I to say their beliefs are inherently wrong? Through the lens of my culture yes some acts are wrong, but through the view of other cultures our actions are viewed the same way. That is why I think anthropologist play a key role in saving the various cultural practices out there.

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