Human Rights are not for Sale

The best thing to come out of World War II was the idea that there are universal human rights to which all human beings are entitled — without limitation.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. It wasn’t until 1950 that Human Rights Day was formally established, making today, December 10th, 2009 the 59th Human Rights Day.

family and education are featured human rights

reading in a tree
As a mother, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to teach my child what is right and what is not.

He’s known from a very young age that “people are not for hitting”. He has great empathy, which helps him to respect the rights of others. He understands the value of sharing, and helping others, even in adversity when there is a personal cost. He knows the value of sharing because he is a part of a greater community. I trust him not only to know what’s right, but to do what’s right.

I can’t begin to express how much I love and respect this young man who couldn’t wait to turn seventeen so that he would be old enough to donate blood.

technology causing change

In almost sixty years many of our governments seem to have forgotten the powerful words held in this document.

We are living in a period of enormous change. When I was a young child I remember going on a tour of a local university and seeing a gigantic room sized machine called a computer. You could ask it questions by punching holes in a piece of cardboard. How amazing was that?

Yet the world my child has grown up in has always had the internet. This technological marvel has created sweeping changes that have impacted on all our lives in many ways.

Our world is rocking still.

Change is never easy. Even good change, like marrying the person you want to marry, or getting the job of your dreams cause a great deal of stress. Because the internet changes are so sweeping and fast, many of us are having a hard time understanding what is really happening.

GNU Linux helped to start the ball rolling on a whole new way of thinking with Open Source software. I attended my first Ontario GNU Linux Fest this year, and it struck me how amazing this world was. There is a whole community of people creating computer software that is both free as in beer AND free as in speech. People are working at creating this stuff to share because they love it and because they know it is important. There is a whole new way of thinking.

Open source folk have two problems. The first is that they are trying to figure out ways to convince the world at large to accept this free software. I know this sounds crazy, but that is a serious problem, since the concept is so alien to the business models that have held sway for so long. The other problem is how they might monetize some of the work they do, because then maybe they will be able to afford to spend more time doing it. None of them are considering NOT doing what they do. They love it and they will continue to do it because it is good for them and the world. These guys aren’t just willing to do this work for free, they ARE doing the work for free.

copyright symbolContrast this with the Copyright World War. This War is being waged on the citizens of the world by corporations seeking to control our culture. On one side you will find the open source type of people who use creative commons licensing to give away what they create, be it software or art. The other side of this war is a powerful group of media companies are attempting to coerce governments around the world to legislate anti-progress. Their objective is to undo the societal evolution that the internet has wrought. At the behest of these powerful special interests, governments around the world are negotiating an international trade treaty to redefine copyright to the specifications of the corporate interests. In spite of leaked documents and a growing unease expressed by constituents, not a single government involved has revealed what is being negotiated.

ACTA is this secret treaty.

The leaked ACTA documents are making it clear that this international trade agreement will not suspend many of the rights promised in this declaration.

A world where profit margins are considered more important than human rights is a giant step back.

Human Rights Abuses Have Not Gone Away

There are many other much worse abuses being perpetrated on citizens of the world today. The ACTA issue is small potatoes in comparison.


The internet has already proved to be a powerful tool in not only educating people, but in helping in the fight for human rights in some of the most repressive areas of the world.

An extremely compelling reason for Net Neutrality.

On YouTube you can see an excellent Universal Declaration of Human Rights video recommended by Joan Vinall-Cox.

An insightful look at the human rights issue can be found in the blog One Day For Human Rights: To Care or Not To Care suggested by Sandy Nunn

In celebration of Human Rights Day everyone should take the time to read the declaration.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    Article 1

  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
  • Article 2

  • Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
  • Article 3

  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
  • Article 4

  • No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
  • Article 5

  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • Article 6

  • Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
  • Article 7

  • All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
  • Article 8

  • Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
  • Article 9

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
  • Article 10

  • Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
  • Article 11

    1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
    2. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

    Article 12

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
  • Article 13

    1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
    2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including their own, and to return to their country.

    Article 14

    1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
    2. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

    Article 15

    1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.
    2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

    Article 16

    1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
    2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
    3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

    Article 17

    1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
    2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

    Article 18

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
  • Article 19

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
  • Article 20

    1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
    2. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

    Article 21

    1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of their country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
    2. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in their country.
    3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

    Article 22

  • Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
  • Article 23

    1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
    2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
    3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
    4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

    Article 24

    Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

    Article 25

    1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
    2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

    Article 26

    1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
    2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
    3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

    Article 27

    1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
    2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

    Article 28

  • Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
  • Article 29

    1. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
    2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
    3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

    Article 30

  • Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.



Happy Human Rights Day.


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