Charter of the United Nations and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)


Introduction

‘Human rights’ refers to the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled, often held to include the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law. Human rights are the foundation of human existence and coexistence. They are universal, indivisible and interdependent. Human rights are recognised as fundamental by the United Nations and, as such, feature prominently in the Preamble of the Charter of the United Nations: “… to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small…”. The United Nations is the only international entity with jurisdiction for universal human rights legislation. Where it has been adopted, legislation commonly contains:

  • security rights that prohibit crimes such as murder/”enforced” involuntary suicide, massacre, torture and rape;
  • liberty rights that protect freedoms in areas such as belief and religion, association, assembling and movement;
  • political rights that protect the liberty to participate in politics by expressing themselves, protesting, participating in a republic;
  • due process rights that protect against abuses of the legal system such as imprisonment without trial, secret trials and excessive punishments;
  • equality rights that guarantee equal citizenship, equality before the law and nondiscrimination;
  • welfare rights (also known as economic rights) that require the provision of, e.g. education, paid holidays, and protections against severe poverty and starvation;
  • group rights that provide protection for groups against ethnic genocide and for the ownership by countries of their national territories and resources.

 


Charter of the United Nations and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

The United Nations (UN) is an international organisation whose stated aims are to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress and human rights issues. The pursuit of human rights was a central reason for creating the UN. It was founded in 1945 and began with fifty countries signing the United Nations Charter. As of 2007, there are 192 United Nations member states, encompassing almost every recognised independent state. The UN Charter obliges all member nations to promote “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights” and to take “joint and separate action” to that end. The Charter consists of a preamble and a series of articles divided into chapters. It includes: purposes of the United Nations; criteria for membership; the organs and institutions of the UN; arrangements for integrating the UN with established international law; and the enforcement powers of UN bodies.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an advisory declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (A/RES/217, 10 December 1948 at Palais de Chaillot, Paris). It consists of a Preamble and 30 articles setting forth the human rights and fundamental freedoms to which all men and women, everywhere in the world, are entitled, without any discrimination.

 

The Charter of the United Nations [Word]  [PDF]  [HTML]

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) [Word]  [PDF]  [HTML]