Human rights are your rights. Every person has them. They’re not dependent on your nationality or your country of residency. It doesn’t matter which gender you are or identify with. They apply to you no matter which ethnicity you have, which religion you follow or which language you speak.
You simply have the human rights because you are a human being. They apply to you from the moment you are born. And they also apply to every other human being on earth. That makes human rights OUR rights.
Universal Human Rights
Our human rights have been written down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is made up of an introduction (preamble) and 30 articles which define our human rights.
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.United Nations
Our 30 Human Rights in a nutshell
These are our human rights in essence. It’s a very brief summary of each article. Click on each heading for more detailed information.
The introduction to the UDHR recognizes that everyone has human rights, that cannot be taken away. They simply are because we are human beings. That disrespecting these rights has led to horrible situations. But that it’s time for humanity to enter a new age where these rights are respected universally. That everyone, everywhere has a duty to protect and promote these rights.
It also says that each member state of the United Nations has a duty and pledges to protect and promote human rights. And that in order to understand what these human rights mean, and to be able to fulfill this pledge, the UDHR has been written so that everyone has a common understanding of these basic rights.
As human beings we are free and equal to all other human beings
As human beings we have basic rights, and no one is allowed to infringe on these rights based on any form of discrimination.
We have the right to live. We have the right to be free. And we have the right to be safe.
No one can own us. No one can control us or take away our freedom by trying to control us.
No one is allowed to torture us or treat us as less than human.
Anyone, anywhere has the right to be recognized as a person by the law.
Everyone is equal before the law. But also should be protected equally by the law.
We have the right to fair treatment by a court that knows what it’s doing, for anything that violates our basic rights as they have been set out in the constitution or by law.
We cannot be arrested, detained or exiled without rhyme or reason.
If we are charged with a criminal offense, we have the right to a fair and public hearing by a court that is independent and impartial.
If we are charged with a criminal offense, we have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
No one has the right to, without motivation, interfere with our privacy, our family, our home or our correspondence.
We have the right to move around freely and settle within the borders of each state. We have the right to leave any country, including our own, and to return to our country.
If we are being persecuted, we have the right to seek asylum in other countries. This can’t be used if we’re escaping prosecution from non-political crimes, or crimes that conflict with the purpose or the principles of the United Nations.
We have the right to nationality and no one has the right to take away our nationality or stop us from changing nationality, without motivation.
As adults we have the right to marry and start a family. As spouses we are equal. Marriage can only occur with our free and full consent.
We have the right to own property. We can own property alone, or with others. Our property cannot be taken away without reason.
We are free to think how we please, to follow our own conscience and religion. This also means we are free to change our religion or belief. We are free to teach, practice, worship and observe our religion or belief in private and in public, either alone or with others.
We are free to have our own opinions and to express ourselves. This right includes the freedom to have opinions without anyone interfering with them.
We are free to peacefully associate with who we wish and meet with who we wish, as long as we do so peacefully. We cannot be forced to become a member of an association.
We have the right to take part in governing our country, either directly or through elected representatives. We have the right equal access to public service.
We have the right to social security in order to fully realize our human rights and develop as individuals.
We have the right to work, to freely choose our work, to fair and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
We have the right to rest and relaxation, which includes reasonable working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
We have the right to a basic standard of living to guarantee the health and well-being of ourselves and our family. Mothers and children are entitled to special care and assistance.
We have the right to education. Education in the fundamental and elementary stages shall be free and compulsory. Education shall focus on the full development of the human personality and strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
We have the right to enjoy and participate in culture and arts, and to share in and benefit from scientific advancements. Everyone who is the author of scientific, literary or artistic productions, has the right to the protection of the interests resulting from said productions.
We have the right to a free and fair world wherein the rights and freedoms described in this declaration can be fully realized.
When it comes to human rights we have a duty to ourselves, but also to our communities and to other people.
Human rights are innate. No state, group or individual may try and destroy any of the rights and freedoms listed in this declaration.
Human Rights in Reality
In reality we deal with human rights and human rights violations every day. Human rights are basically just common sense and common decency. Most people are just not aware of how ingrained they are. They think human rights are a lofty ideal; not a practical reality.
An example of human rights in practice
Two kids on a playground. One hits the other. The teacher sees this and steps in. The kid who has been hit is comforted and sent to the nurse. The other kid is chastised, and sent back inside to sit in a corner and “think about what you’ve done”.
When everyone is back in class, the teacher informs everyone that there is a zero tolerance policy when it comes to violence. Then makes the boy who lashed out apologize to the boy he hurt. The teacher writes a note to the parents to explain what’s happened, how it’s been dealt with and what will happen in the future should this ever happen again.
The boy comes home, shows the note to his parents. As punishment he gets grounded and a spanking.
It’s simple, right?
Hitting someone is not okay. We have a right to be safe. The boy doing the hitting got punished. He learned his lesson. The teacher let everyone know that everyone has to follow this rule, and that there will be consequences if this rule is broken.
Seems fair and sound right?
It’s not that simple
Firstly, all these children are taught is that are and will be consequences if you hit someone. But no one has explained why. No one has explained that just as you have the right to be safe, so does someone else.
Unintended consequence happen more often than you think. In this case the boy who hit the other may have taken a very different lesson from this situation.
What caused the boy to lash out in the first place?
That bad behavior isn’t tolerated is simple. But finding out why the bad behavior occurred is not always part of the equation. Maybe the boy lashed out just because he’s bad, or maybe he lashed out for an actual reason. Maybe the first boy threatened to wait till after school to beat up the other kid, with a group of his friends. Maybe he threatened to hurt someone if the second boy didn’t do as he was told.
The lashing out may very well be a reaction to the kid’s own basic rights being threatened. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be punished for reacting aggressively. But it may lead a kid to believe that standing up for your rights is not allowed.
Doing the right thing because it’s right
Nobody is teaching these kids that you don’t hit someone because it’s not right. They’re just teaching these kids that when a rule is broken, you get punished. It’s not uncommon that kids then start to think “as long as I don’t get CAUGHT I can do whatever I want.”
Getting punished for violating norms is jut a part of human nature. There are benefits to following social norms. But there are quite a lot of people who follow norms because they are afraid of the consequences, the punishment. Not because they believe that following the norm is doing the right thing.
As adults we’re incredibly good at punishing kids for unwanted behavior. Then turn around and exhibit the same behavior, without any consequences. The kid gets spanked. He’s just been taught that physical violence is not okay, but he’s being shown that rules about physical violence only count for him. That others who hit him, are not punished for their behavior.
It starts with awareness
Most people don’t really stop and think about rights, norms, rules and regulations. It’s just the way it is, right? That is, until their own or their loved ones’ rights are violated.
And often people, when their own rights are threatened or violated, will forget one rather important thing. Just because their rights are violated or threatened, still doesn’t give them the right to violate or threaten someone else’s rights.
An Eye for an Eye
The principle that as a punishment, the person who causes the suffering should experience an equal amount of suffering in return, is as old as time itself. It’s part of human nature. An eye for an eye, the best defense is a good offense, revenge is a dish best served cold.
Humanity has been getting back at each other since time immemorial. It doesn’t solve anything, just makes us feel better in the moment. It still doesn’t address that we’ve been hurt because our basic rights were violated. In our quest to do at least an equal amount of harm to those who hurt us, we tend to cross other peoples rights too. Who then demand their pound of flesh in return.
That in the end this cycle just leads to worse infractions is hard to remember in the moment itself. Choosing a different approach is seen as foolish. Don’t let anyone walk all over you! But somebody, somewhere has to start. I applaud you if you do.
“An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind.”M.K. Ghandi
So if people won’t or can’t understand and respect each other’s human rights, what’s the solution?
International Human Rights Law
The current “solution” is the law. And specifically Human Rights Laws. They codify how governments should promote and protect human rights.
International human rights law lays down the obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.United Nations
The police are supposed to be there to help with our personal rights to life, liberty and safety, the courts to make sure the laws are applied fairly and equally. If we get sick, or can’t work, governments have programs to provide social security and healthcare. There are institutions and organizations that keep checks on if the government is doing its job. Such as an ombudsman or the press.
In some more prosperous democracies these things are seen as a matter of course. In reality most countries around the world don’t have these resources or recourse. Or they are available, just not to everyone who needs them. Or only if we already have enough money or power to leverage protection.
Human Rights in Aruba
Through Aruba’s constitution our basic, innate human rights are also protected. For example, Chapter I of Aruba’s says that everyone in Aruba will be treated equally in equal situations. That discrimination on the basis of:
- your political ideas
- your race
- your gender
- social standing
- whether your nationality is a minority
- how much money you have
- where you were born
- or any other basis for discrimination
Is not permitted.
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