Review: Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights by United Nations
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Of course, this is a classic now and many people refer to this document when they identify human rights violations. It is a “must read.” But there are some troubling aspects to this document, especially because it is so widely referenced.

First, it is truly a declaration. That would be fine if it explained its reasoning and contained its scope. Unfortunately, it contradicts itself without explanation and the reader is left wondering how these declarations must be reconciled. For example, Article 25 “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family” cannot be achieved unless a centralized entity practically contradicts Article 17: “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.” I say practically because achieving the former does not happen without distribution of wealth. Note that there is no reference to voluntary charity. It sounds benevolent, but it’s very heavy-handed.

Second, the declaration exceeds its scope by such a wide margin that it may be disregarded by other than Western cultures. For example, I agree that education is extremely valuable, but my view is largely due to my Western upbringing and middle-class experience. Without a corresponding apologetic, these declarations become circular.

I encourage people to read this, if only to discover the contradictions and omissions that make it unworthy of the authority it assumes.

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