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Amber Melton
Prof. Chad Ostler
History 1700-023
November 14, 2016
Universal Declaration of Human Rights: A Review
Following the atrocities that occurred during World War II, the United Nation General
Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The declaration was
intended to be a map, of sorts, to justice and peace throughout the U.N. and their jurisdictions.
Although, in the years leading up to and since its adoption, laws have continuously been altered
or created to preserve the rights of people, not every person in every community adheres to this
declaration, therefore there are still people who suffer injustices.
This document outlines the thirty articles included in the declaration. To some, these
articles may seem to be common sense, but with the continuing issue of racism, sexism, bigotry,
etc., apparently they are not. I feel that, at this time, with the ever increasing amount of racially
charged issues, religious intolerance, and overwhelming hatred that is constantly finding its way
into our homes via the media and social media, it is time to shift our collective focus to peace
and fundamental freedoms guaranteed to every human.
The first three articles explain that every human is born equal, have the same rights,
should not be discriminated against for any reason, and that we should treat each other well.
Article four and five state that no one should be enslaved nor subjected to torture. While there
are anti-discrimination laws in place to ensure people have access to employment, housing, etc.,
there are not laws against verbal discrimination between individuals, as this typically is
considered freedom of speech. Sadly, it is common to hear slurs or read hate posts on social

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media towards certain religious or racial groups. There are also websites devoted to hate groups
and their followers that anyone can access. According to this declaration, no form of
discrimination should be tolerated; so why does our freedom of speech include the right to
openly discriminate? Article nineteen in this declaration addresses this: everyone has the right
to freedom of opinion and expression which includes the right to seek out and receive
information regardless of frontiers.
Articles six through eleven address the legal system: everyone deserves protection of the
law, the right to trial and a fair hearing, innocent until proven guilty, and fair treatment of those
accused and/or found guilty of a crime. Of course, there are laws in place to safeguard these
rights, however, some would argue that there are flaws considering the recent incidents of
officers shooting unarmed men, people on death row are being released after DNA evidence
proved they were innocent, and the lack of punishment for convicted rapists.
Articles thirteen through fifteen are pretty straight forward and discuss ones freedom to
move, leave any country, seek asylum in other countries, and the right to a nationality and to
change his nationality if he so chooses. Articles sixteen and seventeen address marriage: who has
the right to marry and consent. Interestingly enough, it states that everyone of age has the right to
marry and have a family, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, but sex
is not listed, specifically. Perhaps if that word had been added, we would have seen same sex
marriage legalized somewhat sooner.
The next few articles address the rights of everyone to community, social security, the
right to work and protection against unemployment, adequate standard of living, and the right to
education. The final three articles explain the use of this declaration and its purpose: these rights

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span the U.N. and are granted to everyone and the rights discussed cannot be manipulated to be
used against the propose and principles of the U.N..
I understand that the United Nations adopted this Universal Declaration of Human Rights
to avoid abominations similar to those which occurred in World War II, however, the
enforcement of the protection of these rights are limited to entities, not individuals or groups. If
we are truly wanting to work toward freedom, justice and peace in the world, everyone would
need to be held to the standards imposed on entities which would go against a few articles
found within this declaration. Until everyone truly respects one another and their rights, our
progress will continue to be stalled.

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Works Cited
Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. (2016). Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Digital History.
Retrieved 14 Nov. 2016 from http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?