THE UN Human Rights Declaration celebrated its 60th year on Wednesday, having been agreed in Paris on December 10, 1948.
The document lists the rights to which each individual human being is entitled and is wide ranging in the topics it covers, including rights to education and health as well as freedom and protection.
One of the document’s strengths is that it is a declaration not a treaty, meaning it was easier to agree. In the final vote the Soviet Union, its allies, South Africa and Saudi Arabia abstained but were out voted. According to Amnesty International’s Campaign Director Tim Hancock: “The Declaration is a fine document which serves as the bedrock for later treaties. It is magnificent and inspirational.”
He said that the Torture Convention for example is based on it and Amnesty would like to get back to the inspiration of the original document in trying to stop the widespread flouting of the convention, including certain conduct in the war on terror.
“This anniversary has reminded me that the preamble is sometimes neglected. It warns about what happens if human rights themselves are neglected. ‘Barbarous acts’ follow and man is ‘compelled to have recourse, in the last resort, to rebellion,” he said.
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