Saturday, September 13, 2014

United Nations "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights"

It would be fun to comment on this in the light of having recently watched the latest Planet of the Apes movie, but I will set this aside.

Before commenting on the work of the title, I should note that as a Christian, I am far more interested in Duties than Rights.  In particular, "love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18) and "as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them" (Luke 6:31) are both Duties.  The fixation with Rights turns morality on its head and doesn't form the basis for anything.

"Preamble

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world ..."

OK, the UN disagrees with me.

"Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind ..."

It seems to me that the symptom is being turned into the cause.  

Besides "freedom of speech and belief" there is also "freedom from fear and want".  I am not sure I entirely have freedom from fear and want.  For example, if I didn't "want" to do this post, I wouldn't be typing it.  And while I am at it, I am a little cautious ("fear"?) lest I put something down that would offend too greatly.  So my sense is that "freedom from fear and want" is something that is only available to those who are dead.

Backing up a moment, I would note that the US Declaration of Independence states that the Rights are "endowed by their Creator", whereas the UN version was a political compromise.  As the UN site says, "At a time when the world was divided into Eastern and Western blocks, finding a common ground on what should make the essence of the document proved to be a colossal task". 

Article 1 begins with an admonition that humans "act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood".  This should highlight to our current age how the document is dated, since we would need to change this to "brotherhood and sisterhood".  Or maybe that is "siblinghood".  Regardless, we must put blinders on regarding Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Esau and Jacob.  

Article 4 bans "slavery  or servitude".  No problem here, except that today feminists are declaring motherhood to be slavery and what to make of student loan debts?  Isn't that servitude?  

Article 5 says that no one shall be subject to "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment".  Which rules out the vast majority of punishments.  Pecuniary punishments remain, but as noted earlier, pecuniary punishments can easily corrupt the prosecution.  Then we must keep in mind "degrading treatment" today is likely the expectation that a worker arrive at his post on time and sober each work day.

Article 6: "Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law".  Which sounds great, until you have a group of terrorists who cross a border, massacre a large number of people, and continue killing until subdued.  Then they demand their rights as citizens.  

Article 9 bans "exile", which was popular with the Romans as an alternative to execution.  Other aspects of the declaration almost lead to an open borders requirement.  Somehow I think that Europe is going to regret this.  The US will also, but for different reasons.

Article 10 provides for a formal trial for just about anything.  There must also be available some fair person to inform everyone of their rights.  Good luck.

I will ponder the remaining articles in another post.  My impression is that it is something that is well meaning, but hopelessly naive.  Then there is the cynical part where countries that had no intention at all of abiding by these articles signed the charter anyway, knowing that they would not be accountable for their violations, but happy to have a stick to beat countries which didn't fully comply.

3 comments:

Max Coutinho said...

Hi Looney,

Good point on the fixation with Rights.

"So my sense is that "freedom from fear and want" is something that is only available to those who are dead."

LOL indeed.

"Regardless, we must put blinders on regarding Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Esau and Jacob. "

ROFL

"Article 4 bans "slavery or servitude". No problem here, except that today feminists are declaring motherhood to be slavery and what to make of student loan debts? Isn't that servitude? "

I'm tired of feminists. Yes, student loans are servitude.

Like I say, once the US and UK find that IS bloke that beheaded the American journalists and the aid worker, somebody will come and defend the guy's rights.

Article 9 bans exiles but the spirit of the UN implies "except for Jews".

Your conclusion is spot on. I couldn't agree more.
Superb article, Looney. Thanks.

Cheerio

Looney said...

Max, thanks for your comment. I tried to comment recently on your blog, but it didn't work. Perhaps God is telling me to be more constructive!

Max Coutinho said...

Looney, you're welcome.
Your comment passed through (I already replied to it, thanks); so no worries.

Cheers