60th anniversary of the Declaration will be commemorated on December
10, 2008 – on the Human Rights Day. In preparation for that day, let us look at
some of the Human Rights that every person must enjoy. The Preamble states that inter alia:
- 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
- It is essential, if
man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as last resort, to rebellion
against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by
the rule of law.
- The people of the
United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental
human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the
equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social
progress and better standard of life in larger freedom.
- Member states have
pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the
promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and
following are examples of basic Human
- Right to life. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states
that: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. The
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stipulates in article
6 (1) that: Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right
shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his
- Right to adequate food. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
proclaimed in article 25 the right to adequate food as an indispensable
element of the right of everyone to: “… a standard of living adequate for
the health and well-being of himself and his family. Article 11 of the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights imposes on
its States Parties the obligation to take appropriate steps to ensure the realization
of the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and
his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing and to the
continuous improvement of living conditions.
- Right to adequate housing. In article 25 (1) the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights provides for the right to adequate housing as an
indispensable part of an adequate standard of living. This right is
reaffirmed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights which states in article 11 (1) that “The States Parties … recognize
the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and
his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing..”.
- Right to
health and medical services. In
article 25 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that:
“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health
and well-being of himself and of his family including … medical care and
necessary social services,.”. The African Charter on Human and People’s
Rights provides in article16 (2) that its States Parties “… shall take the
necessary measures to protect the health of their people and to ensure
that they receive medical attention when they are sick”.
- Right to education. In article 26 the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights states that: “Everyone has the right to education. Education
shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages.
Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional
education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be
equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. Education shall be
directed to the full development of the human personality and to the
strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It
shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations,
racial and religious groups, and shall further the activities of the
United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
- Right to development. The United Nations General Assembly adopted in
1986 the Declaration on the Right to Development as “an inalienable human
right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled
to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural,
and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental
freedoms can be fully realized… The human person is the central subject of
development and should be the active participant and beneficiary of the
right to development”.
- Right to work. Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states
that: “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to
just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against
unemployment. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal
pay for equal work. Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable
remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of
human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social
- Right to own property. In article 17, the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights states that: “Everyone has the right to own property alone as
well as in association with others. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived
of his property”.
- Right to creativity.Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic,
Social, and Cultural Rights states that: The States Parties to the present
Covenant undertake to respect the freedom indispensable for scientific
research and creative activity”. Creativity emphasizes the maintenance and
development of individual and group aptitudes and opportunities, rather
than on the product of activities.
- Right to democracy. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights
confirms the cornerstone principle of democracy, stipulating that: “The
will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this
shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by
universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by the
equivalent free voting procedures”.
to peace. The right to live in peace was recognized as a human right
by resolution 5/XXXII (1976) of the Commission on Human Rights. In 1978
the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in its resolution 33/73, the
Declaration on the Preparation of Societies for Life in Peace which
provides in article 1, that: Every nation and every human being,
regardless of race, conscience, language or sex, has the inherent right to
live in peace. Respect for that right, as well as for the other human
rights, is in the common interest of all mankind and an indispensable
condition of advancement of all nations, large and small, in all fields”.
- Freedom from torture. Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights states that: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. The Convention against
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was
adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1984. It urges states to
make torture a crime and to prosecute and punish those guilty of it
because torture is one of the most serious abuses of human rights.
Right to a fair trial. The
right to a fair trial is an indispensable element of the procedural guarantees.
Certain principles relating to procedural guarantees are set out in Articles 6,
10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to article 2
(3) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
States Parties undertake to ensure: that any person whose rights or freedoms
are violated shall have an effective remedy, notwithstanding that the violation
has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity; that any person claiming such a remedy shall have
the right thereto determined by competent judicial, administrative or legislative
authorities, or by any other competent authority provided for by the legal
system of the State, and to develop the possibilities of judicial remedy; and
that the competent authorities shall enforce such remedies when granted.