Eleanor Roosevelt looks at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, November 1, 1949. UN Photo.
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” These opening words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights established the foundation of international human rights law. The Declaration, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948, sets out a broad range of fundamental rights and freedoms for all.
The rights, freedoms, and obligations outlined in the Declaration include civil and political rights; economic, social, and cultural rights; and collective rights. Human rights by their nature are indivisible, interrelated, and interdependent. The improvement of one right helps advance the others.
Unfortunately, various forms of discrimination continue to hinder the realization of these human rights. Human rights can only be achieved through persistent effort and constant vigilance by informed and caring people. Each of us has the duty to uphold our own rights and those of others. We all share the responsibility for creating a just society in which the rights and dignity of all persons are valued and respected.
“… there is a growing awareness of the exalted dignity proper to the human person . . . whose rights and duties are universal and inviolable. They ought, therefore, to have ready access to all that is necessary to living a life that is truly human life, such as, food, clothing, and shelter… the right to education, to employment….”
(Gaudium et Spes, 26)