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Universal Declaration of Human Rights 60th Anniversary
December 9, 2008 3:44 PM   Subscribe

Sixty years ago on December 10, fifty eight nations created the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

There are extensive commentaries, and critical alternatives.
Most of all there are predecessors.
Do you know your rights?

Previously, previously.
posted by Fiasco da Gama (20 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."
posted by ageispolis at 3:47 PM on December 9, 2008


Just another goddamned piece of paper.
posted by orthogonality at 3:55 PM on December 9, 2008


Know your rights.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:03 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


FAIL. (not you, them)
posted by gman at 4:10 PM on December 9, 2008


.
posted by Balisong at 4:26 PM on December 9, 2008


Bless Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt for this. She is sorely missed. You barely even get Presidents as good as her in the last few decades. :)
posted by eatdonuts at 4:46 PM on December 9, 2008


Maybe a more modest agreement that included specific implementation details and an effective enforcement mechanism would work better than grand pronouncements?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:09 PM on December 9, 2008


"This has been a declaration of the United Nations Human Rights Commission. We now return you to your regularly scheduled genocide."
posted by ...possums at 5:13 PM on December 9, 2008


“Just another goddamned piece of paper.”

Unless backed by will and paid for in blood. I agree. I presume you mean the ongoing failure of nations, multinationals, ngos and other entities to live up much less strongly advocate for these rights.
But tangential to that point - these are worthy ideals. In one sense, yeah, it’s a piece of paper. One can even say it’s a propaganda, a cheap cover to show the rubes whilst the nastier things live fat and easy in the dark.
Stuff like this is why I support amnesty international and other organizations. I do believe in these ideals and I’d be willing to work and even die to see their realization. We can’t allow ourselves to fall to the paralysis that cynicism brings.
In part because failure is no option. It’s death and slavery and even if you’re on the clean side of the rope in such a world, you’re still a filthy slaver.
But mostly - what the hell else are you gonna do? Sit on your ass? Watch t.v.?
We live, for what? Too often we don’t accept that the power is ours because we don’t wish to realize the extent to which we’re responsible for not only our lives, but the entire world - right now. The past is dead. The future in unformed. Both go on and on and on into nearly infinite blackness and uncertainty. All we really have is right now and our lives and anything is possible.
The ones we speak of as failing here don’t have any real authority. It’s only delegated. And it’s only predicated on attempting to live up to those ideals. When I say ‘It’s my world’ I’m in earnest. The planet under my feet is mine as much as it is anyone else’s. And moreso, when I act in alignment with ideals such as these from which all authority is derived. What the hell do I need with some title or trappings of power to act with authority for what we all know to be right?
Yeah, it’s a piece of paper. But it’s thought, an idea, human rectitude and authority, what we live *for* - codified.
I can’t say it better than ‘be the change you wish to see.’ I mean, who the hell is anyone else to tell you ‘you can’t’?

Hell, we nailed our corrupt governor today. Any damned thing is possible.


...Well. See ya.
*sits down*
*watches t.v.*
posted by Smedleyman at 5:13 PM on December 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


A beautiful introduction to the difficulty of getting "specific implementation details and an effective enforcement mechanism" and the halting steps towards The Good that the UN takes, is Chasing the Flame, the story of Sergio Vieira de Mello.
posted by lalochezia at 5:18 PM on December 9, 2008


Maybe a more modest agreement that included specific implementation details and an effective enforcement mechanism would work better than grand pronouncements?

You underestimate the ability of the UN to actually agree on anything other than grand pronouncements.
posted by smackfu at 5:19 PM on December 9, 2008


Or maybe that should be overestimate. Something like that.
posted by smackfu at 5:19 PM on December 9, 2008


Maybe a more modest agreement that included specific implementation details and an effective enforcement mechanism would work better than grand pronouncements?

False dichotomy. We can have both grand pronouncements and an effective enforcement mechanism for a more modest agreement. Indeed, we do. See: International Criminal Court.
posted by scottreynen at 5:30 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


*switches off teevee*
*clears throat*

You know what? I am behind most of what Smedleyman just said.

Obama isn't even in office yet, and the already getting cut away. That governor, Rod Blagojevich, he stole from us. He stole from us all, and he is not the only one, and after Obama got elected, and watching all the rats scurry, and now this, why I am feeling mighty good about how many of us are doing something.

This is how imagined the future to be. This is worth getting up for in the morning.

Every morning now, I wake up, and I switch on the local radio station, and I am interested in hearing what's going on. Not just here or there but everywhere!

And this document, this so-called piece of paper, it matters. I learned of it on my own when I was seventeen about twenty-five years ago, and at the time it sounded like a swell idea to me! I checked the book it was in out of the library and on my own reading at the table with my now-deceased grandmother after dinner while listening to the radio before teevee I studied it.

It stuck with me.

And it has stuck with a great number of us. It is regularly referenced and returned to as a cornerstone of sanity and human achievement, and it is further more being used to guide our the human direction. [See The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: fifty years later.(Hate, Genocide and Human Rights Fifty Years Later: What Have We Learned? What Must We Do ?) here.]

If the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is another piece of paper then 2008 was another US presidential election. And I hear plenty of people say that it was. But having worked as hard as I have, did and do making a difference by just working to make a difference, I can tell you this:

They're wrong. And I that's okay by me. Somebody's got to be wrong. I'm just glad that the people who are wrong are wrong precisely about that what's right. It makes me feel like everything is how it's supposed to be.

Sixty years? Yowsah! And Obama?! Keep up the good work everybody.

Now, how about a dance?

*shuts off the browser*
*pushes away from office desk*
*goes outside to check out the band playing live here in the Key West night*
posted by humannaire at 6:17 PM on December 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


This seems like a good place to mention Sheree Fitch's If You Could Wear My Sneakers, a kid's poetry book about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
posted by joannemerriam at 7:22 PM on December 9, 2008


This seems like a good time to mention that I just this week learned that the United States contributes only 298 peacekeeping troops to United Nations efforts worldwide, as of October.

Rwanda contributes nearly ten times as many.

You can find the numbers at the UN site.
posted by lauranesson at 8:37 AM on December 10, 2008


False dichotomy. We can have both grand pronouncements and an effective enforcement mechanism for a more modest agreement. Indeed, we do. See: International Criminal Court.

Oh, right, the ICC. I hope it doesn't overtax itself with that breakneck pace of starting a trial every seven years.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:30 PM on December 10, 2008


I keep it on the fridge and look at it every day. It's embarassing in this day and age we should even have to have documents that say it should be a fundamental right to not be a slave, to not be tortured, to be able to join a union, to take a holiday.
posted by jessamyn at 6:05 PM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


If it's only paper, thank God for paper. First you have principles, then you work on living up to them.
posted by shetterly at 9:55 PM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


You rock Jessamyn! I keep it on my desk in my office at home along with the UN Charter. In recent years I've taken to reading them on July 4 rather than the US Constitution (which usually just serves to disappoint me).

I'd also mention that this document was preceded by a very interesting document produced by the American Law Institute, which is a) much lesser known, and b) nearly impossible to find these days. I'll hunt through my voluminous collection of papers on human rights from law school and come back with a scan of the document if anyone is interested.
posted by greekphilosophy at 3:23 PM on December 12, 2008


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