The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 60

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:

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
    fundamental freedoms.


Healthcare is a Human Right for Everyone – Rich and Poor

3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that: “Everyone has the
right to life, liberty and security of person”. Article 25 states that:
“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and
well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and
medical care and necessary social services…”

11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states
that: “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of
everyone to adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including
adequate food, clothing, housing, and to the continuous improvement of living


Uganda’s experience in growth without equity and development

25 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that: “Everyone has the
right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself
and of his family, including food, clothing and medical care and necessary
social services (such as the right to social security, to rest and leisure),
and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability,
widowhood, old age or lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All
children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social

11 in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states
that: “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize 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. The State Parties will take appropriate steps
to the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential
importance of international co-operation based on free consent. The States
Parties to the present Covenant, recognizing the fundamental right of everyone
to be free from hunger, shall take, individually and through international
co-operation, the measures, including specific programs, which are needed:

(a) To improve methods of production, conservation and
distribution of food by making full use of technical and scientific knowledge,
by disseminating knowledge of the principles of nutrition and by developing or
reforming agrarian systems in such a way as to achieve the most efficient
development and utilization of natural resources;

(b) Taking into account the problems of both
food-importing and food-exporting countries, to ensure an equitable
distribution of world food supplies in relation to need”.


Eugenics and Human Rights

The International Community of Banyakigezi (ICOB)
held its 6th Convention in New York in August 2008. One of the
topics that came up in formal and informal discussions was the population dynamics
in Uganda. Some argued very strongly that unless the population ‘explosion’ was
brought under control – and very quickly – the human quality was bound to
suffer. This was reminiscent of the arguments put forward by the supporters of

Eugenics is
the science of improving the human population by controlled breeding for
desirable inherited characteristics. Thus, eugenicists are interested in producing
a better class of people through selective breeding. To achieve this goal, the
eugenics movement advocated forced sterilization of men and women who exhibited
inter-generationally transmitted diseases and disabilities or were of marginal


The Uganda we have lost: Biological diversity

In this article the author will focus on the loss of biological diversity (biodiversity) in Rujumbura sub-county of Rukungiri district in south west Uganda as a result of human activities in the name of development. But first, let us look briefly at Uganda as a whole.

Uganda was originally covered by dense tropical forests, woodland vegetation, wetlands and large water bodies and rivers except in a few relatively dry areas in the northeast. Hunters and gatherers roamed freely in search of food without damaging the ecosystem.

Later, Bantu groups arrived in Uganda from the southwest corner with short-horn cattle, goats and sheep as well as iron implements and fire. As they cleared vegetation to grow crops, graze their livestock and construct shelters, the original vegetation cover was lost. Because land was still plentiful, shifting cultivation helped secondary environmental regeneration.


The Uganda we have lost: Quality education

The author will record his education experience from grade one to grade eight focusing on the principal factors – food security, motivated teachers and school inspection – that contributed to the high quality of education although school enrolment was low. Today in 2008 the reverse is true: there is high enrolment but low quality education. The omission or marginalization of the principal factors has contributed significantly to the deteriorating quality of education at primary and secondary levels – the focus of this article. Uganda needs a high quantity and high quality education system to survive in the 21st century and beyond especially as resource-based economies are being replaced by knowledge-based achievements.

The primary education – grades one through four – was done at Kashenyi in Ruhinda sub-county of Rukungiri district in south west Uganda.
Mothers who had received training in home economics including balanced diet, safe drinking water and general hygiene from the Mothers Union and the health department understood the importance of nutrition especially breakfast. We had a full meal including potatoes or bananas, beans or vegetables and almost without fail millet porridge. This gave us a very good start and we concentrated in class.


Uganda being destroyed by unsustainable policies

the start of the 20th century,
Uganda boasted of fertile soils, abundant water bodies,
mighty rivers and regular, adequate rainfall, mild climate, and abundant fauna
and flora. The abundance of these natural resources and indigenous skilled
labor enabled the production of a wide range of agricultural and manufactured
products that satisfied food requirements and other basic needs with surplus
for exchange in the neighboring countries of
Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. This natural abundance was confirmed by European
travelers, missionaries and explorers.

came colonial policies based on comparative advantage which required
Uganda to specialize in the production of coffee, cotton,
tea and tobacco for populations and industries in
Britain in exchange for manufactured products. The first to
disappear were the indigenous industries – iron implements, cloth from bark,
hides and skins, wooden products, clay pots and dishes, baskets and mats and
the related indigenous human skills.


Ending violence against Uganda women must be a top national priority

December 4, 1950, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 423
(V) and invited all states and interested groups to observe December 10 of each
year as Human Rights Day – the day when the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. As the world
prepares to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal
Declaration on
December 10, 2008, this occasion provides an opportunity to review the
status of women’s rights in
Uganda. We shall focus on violence against women in large
part because early this year the Secretary-General of the United Nations led
the international community in launching a campaign regarding violence against
women and the girl child.


The failure of governance in Africa


On January 18, 1907, Winston Churchill confessed to the National Liberal Club, London that he had never seen countries so fertile and beautiful outside Europe as those of East Africa. “There are parts of East African Protectorate which in their beauty, in the coolness of the air, in the richness of the soil, in their verdure, in the abundance of running water, in their fertility – parts which absolutely surpass any of the countries which I have mentioned, and challenge comparison with the fairest regions of England, France, or Italy. I have seen in Uganda a country which from end to end is a garden – inexhaustible, irrepressible, and exuberant fertility upon every side – and I cannot doubt the great system of lakes and waterways, which you cannot fail to observe if you look at the large map of Africa, must one day become the great center of tropical production, and play a most important part in the economic development of the whole world”. Notwithstanding the vast natural and human potential in Africa as a whole, poverty is increasing in absolute and relative terms, life expectancy declining, functional illiteracy rising, health systems collapsing, hunger spreading and deepening, violence and crime rising, and environmental degradation spreading in rural and urban areas. What has gone wrong in a rich continent?


Uganda has adopted a second hand culture

While commenting on the many and
increasingly daunting development challenges confronting the National
Resistance Movement (NRM) government, a Ugandan lamented that the country had
become a “used culture” meaning that almost everything sold in Uganda is secondhand
such as vehicles, furniture and even tanks and aircraft. He added that the
traditional dress made from local cotton had become as rare as the mountain gorilla.
Another Ugandan stressed that the secondhand clothes had become a problem that
within ten years the
Uganda culture would
be dead because of imported used products. The ocean of used clothes portrays the
image that Ugandan products were worthless.


Commercial trade in used clothes is
growing rapidly in developing countries but has met with stiff resistance in
some countries in part because they undermine local industries with many
adverse consequences including loss of jobs and foreign exchange, developing
countries are used as waste disposal, Africa gets the worst grades (secondhand
clothes are graded as the good, the bad and the ugly with the latter going to Africa)
and most important of all is the assumption that they were the dead white person’s
clothes and were never even washed before shipment to remove the diseases. In
2001 used clothes was one of
America’s major
exports to
Africa fetching $61.7 million. Some
industrialized countries subsidize the secondhand clothes making them even
cheaper in the markets of developing countries.