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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Upon the founding of the United Nations, there was much discussion of the purpose of the organization. The founding years in the late 1940s were immediately following the horrors of World War II, and the representatives UN had made it a priority to set the world on a new path of peace. One of the mission documents for the attempted new world order was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The document put forward some great ideals for the rest of the Twentieth Century, but there is still much work that has to be done to meet the goals of the Declaration.

The first sentence of the document describes “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.” That sentence gives a great amount of hope for the UN and its mission, yet for a reader over 65 years later, we see how far things still have to go. We see in a number of developing nations how women are still discriminated against, as well as religious and ethnic discrimination. The feelings after World War II might have given a sense of optimism, that those horrors would never come again, but that is one claim that the UN has yet to achieve.

The Declaration contains a pledge by the UN member nations that “in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” This statement, as part of a founding document for the UN, stands out when considering the situation in Syria. The UN has worked for the past three years to alleviate the plight of Syrians, yet there has been criticism from some of its own members. This pledge in the Declaration shows the need and responsibility the UN has to help in a situation of humanitarian plight.

Article three of the Declaration reads “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person.” Out of the many instances where this principle has not been upheld, the recent anniversary of the Rwandan genocide is one of the most egregious examples. The genocide of 1994 resulted in the death of almost a million Rwandans. The UN unfortunately did little to stop the killings, and after 20 years the genocide is still a large black mark on the international community.

Overall the Universal Declaration of Human Rights put forwards what we would all hope would be the best for the international community. It gives an idea of what the UN stands for, and while there have been a number of instances when the league has not held up to their lofty standards, the UN has carried out countless missions to help the impoverished. Hopefully they will learn from their slip-ups, however, and do more to accomplish their stated mission.

– Eric Gustafsson

Sources: UN, Youth for Human Rights
Photo: Encyclopædia Britannica