On December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A simplified version of that Declaration follows. After adopting the Declaration the Assembly called upon all member countries to educate their individual nations on the contents. The Declaration is democratic in nature and clarifies rights attributed to all human beings—men, women and children.
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 humankind, 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 people are 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 people 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 cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these tights 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 measure, 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.
1. We are all born free. We all have our own thoughts and ideas. We should all be treated in the same way.
2. These rights belong to everybody, whether we are rich or poor, whatever country we live in, no matter what sex or what color we are, what language we speak, what we think or what we believe.
3. We all have the right to life, and to live in freedom and safety.
4. Nobody has the right to make us a slave. We cannot make anyone else our slave.
5. Nobody has the right to hurt us or to torture us.
6. We all have the same right to use the law.
7. The law is the same for everyone. It must treat us all fairly.
8. We can all ask for the law to help us when we are not treated fairly.
9. Nobody has the right to put us in prison without a good reason, to keep us there or to send us away from our country.
10. If we are put on trial, this should be in public. The people who try us should not let anyone tell them what to do.
11. Nobody should be blamed for doing something until it is proved that they did it. If people say we did something bad we have the right to show this was not true. Nobody should punish us for something that we did not do, or for doing something which was not against the law when we did it.
12. Nobody should try to harm our good name. Nobody has the right to come into our home, open our letters, or bother us or our family without a good reason.
13. We all have the right to go where we want to in our own country and to travel abroad as we wish.
14. If we are frightened of being badly treated in our own country, we all have the right to run away to another country to be safe.
15. We all have the right to belong to a country.
16. Every grown up has the right to marry and have a family if they want to. Men and women have the same rights when they are married, and when they are separated.
17. Everyone has the right to own things or share them. Nobody should take our things from us without a good reason.
18. We all have the right to believe in what we want to believe, to have a religion, or to change it if we want.
19. We all have the right to make up our own minds, to think what we like, to say what we think, and to share our ideas with other people wherever they live, through books, radio, television and in other ways.
20. We all have the right to meet our friends and to work together in peace to defend our rights. Nobody can make us join a group if we don’t want to.
21. We all have the right to take part in the government of our country. Every grown up should be allowed to choose their own leaders from time to time and should have a vote which should be made in secret.
22. We all have the right to a home, to have enough money to live on and medical help if we are ill. We should all be allowed to enjoy music, art, craft, sport and to make use of our skills.
23. Every grown up has the right to a job, to get a fair wage for their work, and to join a trade union.
24. We all have the right to rest from work and relax.
25. We all have the right to a good life, with enough food, clothing, housing, and healthcare. Mothers and children, people without work, old and disabled people all have the right to help.
26. We all have the right to education, and to finish primary school which should be free. We should be able learn a career, or to make use of all our skills. We should learn about the United Nations and about how to get on with other people and respect their rights. Our parents have the right to choose how and what we will learn.
27. We all have the right to our own way of life, and to enjoy the good things that science and learning bring.
28. We have a right to peace and order, so that we can all enjoy rights and freedoms in our own country and all over the world.
29. We have a duty to other people, and we should protect their rights and freedoms.
30. Nobody can take away these rights and freedoms from us.
Questions for Reflection: Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- What are your first impressions in reading through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
- How can the Declaration be used as a tool for dialogue, cooperation, and learning in schools, at the workplace, as well as for international collaboration?
- How do some of the issues address issues of peace?
- In what ways does the Declaration support a new way of thinking and acting, as well as promoting individual and national responsibility?