Social rights for everyone

On December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a flag against oppression and discrimination in what constituted the first international recognition of the fundamental liberties and Human Rights that applied to all people.
It collects all the palette of Human Rights in 30 articles; the first two guarantee that Human Rights will be everyone’s heritage and not the privilege of a specific group.
Of the 28 remaining articles, the first group of them (3 to 21) establishes the civil and political rights to which every person has right. The right to life, freedom and security of the person, recognized in Article 3, is the base to all political rights and civil liberties, including the right not to be subdued to slavery, torture and detention.
The second group of articles (22 to 27) establishes the economic, social and cultural rights to which all human beings have the right. The angular stone of those rights is Article 22, where it is recognized that every person has the right to social security and to the satisfaction of the economic, social and cultural rights “indispensable” to that person’s dignity and to the free development of his or her personality.
The third and last group of articles (28 to 30) amplifies the frame of necessary protections for the universal enjoyment of Human Rights. Article 28 recognizes the right to a social and international order in which human rights and fundamental freedoms are made fully effective. Article 29 recognizes that besides rights, every person has obligations regarding the community since only in that community can the person can develop his or her personality freely and plainly. Article 30 protects the interpretation of all the articles from all external interference opposite to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. This article explicitly affirms that no State, group or person has any right to take on and to develop activities or to realize acts that tend to suppress any of the rights and the liberties proclaimed in the Declaration.
Human Rights and human development have a common destiny and a general purpose: freedom, well being and everyone’s dignity in any part of the world. These two matters must watch out for:
Freedom from discrimination, whether because of gender, race, nationality, ethnic origin or religion.
Freedom of necessity, to enjoy a decent level of life.
Freedom to develop oneself and to make real one’s human potential.
Freedom from fear, from threats to personal security, of torture, of arbitrary detention and other violent acts.
Freedom from injustice and from the violations to the supremacy of the law.
Freedom to participate in the adoption of decisions, to express opinions and to form associations.
Freedom to have a decent job, without exploitation.
There have been many advances during the last 100 years. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights made it possible that these rights are recognized as a “responsibility of global character.” Rich and poor countries have been demonstrating a different while taking on initiatives in favor of human rights and human development, even if no society has stopped experiencing racism, authoritarianism, xenophobia and other problems that have taken away dignity and liberty from the human being’s hand.
But there are still many things left to be done because not all the freedoms mentioned previously are completely fulfilled. The most urgent ting is to accept that the recognition of human rights for all remains a mere formal declaration if they do not become political and social rights collected in the judicial order of each country.
This or that right is not enough to give an appearance of democracy. All the rights are needed. The maintenance of death penalty in one single state of a federation is enough in order for that country not to be recognized as a plain democracy in the international community. Or the impossibility to exert fundamental rights such as the right to work, the right to health or to a dignified home.
When the state tramples on Human Rights or allows that to happen, we cannot wait for any order: It is precise to rip those rights off and to exert them.
The judicial doctrine is unanimous: in the face of tyranny, the oppression of castes, of the military or the financial oligarchies, it is not only licit to rebel and to eliminate the oppressor, but also the right to resistance becomes an ethical duty. Especially when the weakest suffer.

José Carlos Gª Fajardo
Translated by Carlos Miguélez

This article was published in the Center of Collaborations for Solidarity (CCS) on 03/28/2005