Foun­da­tions of the Dec­la­ra­tion

The Star Malaysia - - Focus -

THE Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights adopted in 1948 took in­spi­ra­tion from Eng­land’s 13th-cen­tury Magna Carta, the US Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence of 1776, and France’s 1789 Rights of Man.

Un­like the oth­ers, how­ever, the 1948 doc­u­ment is the first to say that all hu­man be­ings are free and equal in “dig­nity” as well as rights.

Here is a sum­mary of the rights charters that in­formed the dec­la­ra­tion adopted by the United Na­tions 70 years ago, in the af­ter­math of World War II.

1215: Magna Carta

Eng­land’s “Magna Carta”, which means “Great Char­ter”, is seen as a foun­da­tion stone for mod­ern Con­sti­tu­tions and the first text to deal with the rights of man.

Putting an end to a re­bel­lion against un­pop­u­lar King John, it HERE is a run­down of the main points in the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights, adopted by the United Na­tions in Paris 70 years ago.

> The char­ter ad­dresses four key ar­eas: per­sonal rights, such as free­dom and equal­ity; re­la­tion­ship rights, such as na­tion­al­ity and hav­ing a fam­ily; spir­i­tual and po­lit­i­cal rights such as the free­dom of re­li­gion and vot­ing; and eco­nomic, so­cial and cul­tural rights, which cover work, wages, ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial se­cu­rity. es­tab­lished for the first time that ev­ery­body, in­clud­ing the king, was sub­ject to the law.

Eng­land’s Bill of Rights of 1689 went fur­ther in reg­u­lat­ing re­la­tions be­tween the monar­chy and peo­ple, im­pos­ing lim­its on the king’s pow­ers and boost­ing the rights of Par­lia­ment, in­clud­ing to free elec­tions and speech.

1776: US Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence

Adopted as 13 Amer­i­can colonies at war with Bri­tain de­clared them­selves in­de­pen­dent, the doc­u­ment stated that all men were born equal and had cer­tain in­alien­able rights, in­clud­ing to life, free­dom and the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness.

Ten amend­ments to the US fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tion in 1789 re­sulted in a US Bill of Rights that guaran- teed free­dom of ex­pres­sion and re­li­gion to all Amer­i­cans, as well as the right to a fair trial and “to keep and bear arms”.

1789: Rights of Man

Also in 1789, France’s Na­tional Assem­bly set out the “Dec­la­ra­tion of the Rights of Man and of the Ci­ti­zen” which was built around the trin­ity of lib­erty, equal­ity and fra­ter­nity.

It would be­come a foun­da­tional text for the French Rev­o­lu­tion against the monar­chy, which be­gan the same year, and as­serted the right to peo­ple’s rule.

Ar­ti­cle 6, for ex­am­ple, states that the law “is the ex­pres­sion of the gen­eral will” and all “cit­i­zens have the right of con­tribut­ing per­son­ally or through their rep­re­sen­ta­tives to its for­ma­tion”.

The US Con­sti­tu­tion (above) amd Eng­land’s Magna Carta (left) both in­spired the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights.

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