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
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
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.