June Object of the Month
This month’s object of the month is a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR’s), this particular copy is from 1993, and it is not particularly rare or valuable. However it represents the importance and lasting legacy of the UDHR’s on the world. The original Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created back in 1948 on the 18th June, arising directly after the horrors of the Second World War and representing the first global expression of what many people believe to be the rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled, regardless of nationality, place of residence, gender, ethnicity, colour, religion, language or any other status.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
It was agreed that human rights must be recognised as:
- Universal: they belong to all of us, to everybody in the world
- Inalienable: they cannot be taken away from us
- Indivisible and Interdependent: governments should not be able to pick and choose which are respected
The Declaration included 30 universal, inalienable and indivisible rights and freedoms. Including “the right to life, liberty and security of person”, “the right to seek and be granted asylum”, and “the right to a fair trial”. It is stated in the preamble to the UDHR’s that “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.” You can read the UDHR’s in full on the United Nations website.
67 years on and the rights they included continue to form the basis for all international human rights law in the forms of treaties, customary international law, general principles, regional agreements and domestic law, to guarantee these human rights are upheld. The UDHR’s has inspired more than 80 international human rights treaties and declarations, a great number of regional human rights conventions, domestic human rights bills, and constitutional provisions, which together constitute a comprehensive legally binding system for the promotion and protection of human rights.
Human Rights Abuse
However, human rights abuse is a continuing problem in the world today and much needs to be done to ensure equal rights and freedoms for all and to make basic human rights “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”. People are still being discriminated against or mistreated on the grounds of gender, race, religion, and place of residence, nationality, ethnicity, colour, language and other statuses. Many people are still denied their rights to education, freedom of speech or to a fair trial. Torture, slavery and child trafficking are just a few examples of human rights abuse that still exist in the world today. And this is not just a problem for people who live far away in war torn and third world countries. Human Rights are being abused in Britain, in America and China. One of the first steps in combating these problems must be to educate people about Human Rights. We need to all be able to speak up for our rights; the rights of those around us and those around the world. We need to protect them. That is why the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is still so important today. If you want to find out more about human rights campaigns. Check out some of the work of Amnesty International on their website: www.amnesty.org.uk
What do you think?
What impact has the Universal Declaration of Human Rights had on the world? Has it been a force for peace?
What more could be done to protect the human rights of all human beings?
How do you feel about proposals for the Human Rights Act to be abolished in Britain?
This month’s object of the month is featured in our temporary exhibition space as part of our current exhibit entitled A force for peace? The History of European Co-operation.
The Museum also offers lots of different educational workshops for school groups including one entitled The Right to Peace: Children’s Rights and Peace. This workshop covers children’s rights, human rights and the link between the idea of universal human rights and a peaceful world. To find out more you can contact Shannen Lang our Learning and Administration Officer at [email protected] or alternatively you could contact us by telephone: 01274 780241.
Written by Sarah Bartey