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Gwendolyn Scott
Professor David Bachman
JSIS 201
February 4th, 2016
Second Response Paper: The Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and the United Nations Charter

Why, if the Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations both exist in the
international community and are both fighting for the rights of people around the world, do so
many abuses still persist? The UN Charter and the Declaration of Human Rights define the
beliefs and expectations of all countries that are a part of this global system in regards to human
rights. Both texts have very strong and detailed descriptions of what is and isnt allowed to
happen in regards to these rights and in this sense they are both very similar, but they conflict in
regards to the actual significance. The Charter of the United Nations created the United Nations
organization, which is a group that actively fights against the abuse of human rights around the
world, whereas the Declaration of Human Rights is a symbolic document used as the basis and
reference for governments around the world. This conflict influences how human rights are
addressed in the international community by way of the extent that each document can hold
The UN Charter and the Declaration of Human Rights both have the same essential
stance on human rights within their text. The UN charter reads that their purpose is to achieve
international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or
humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for
fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; (UN

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Charter article. I, sec. 3). With almost identical purpose, the Declaration of Human Rights
declares that 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.
(Universal Declaration of Human Rights article III). Though these are worded slightly
differently, they both state that human rights should be protected regardless of certain
distinctions among people. They both list abuses of human rights that have been committed in
the past or are being committed currently and they believe that these should never happen to
anyone. They claim these to be essentially inalienable rights. Their dedication to these rights is
what binds together both documents and how they are interpreted by the countries of the world.
The two documents conflict, however, in their application. The Charter of the United
Nations is the blueprint for an international organization. It is similar to a constitution in that it
sets the rules and behavior of the organization it created as well as its ultimate goals. The United
Nations--the previously mentioned organization--uses their influence and resources in order to
actively combat abuses of human rights all around the world. On the other hand, the Declaration
of Human Rights is a doctrine akin to the Declaration of Independence of the United States. It
doesnt actually say how things are to be done to address human rights abuses and it holds no
power of actual action, but it holds symbolic power and is often referenced by countries in their
politics around the world. This is the key difference between the the two documents in regards to
their significance in the realm of the international community.
This difference between the documents may seem inconsequential but actually has a
strong impact on the international community. Because the Declaration of Human Rights is a
solely symbolic text, it can list more abuses because it's not actually taking trying to take action
against them it is instead just creating a reference guide for future use. In contrast, the United

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Nations is an organization that actually acts to address the abuses against human rights which
means it is limited by resources and participation from countries. It can only hold influence in as
many countries that allow them to act in their country and acknowledge their general tenets and
beliefs. This means that the United Nations has to ignore many abuses made my countries, no
matter how atrocious, simply because they are not within their spectrum of influence. This effect
impacts the international application of working to protect human rights. Because some rights are
more focused on by the United Nations, these are the rights that most governments will in turn
try to enforce more than others. This leaves other rights, detailed in the Declaration of Human
Rights, abused or at least ignored.
The Charter of the United Nations and the Declaration of Human Rights follow the same
set of morals as can be seen in their texts. The conflict between the two documents arises,
however, when the active applications of the United Nations and the Declaration of Human
Rights is compared. The charter creates the structure of the United Nations which is an group
that fights against human rights abuses, while the Declaration is a more symbolic doctrine that is
used to back up government ideals and structure. In summation, the two texts both impact the
international community, one as a living force and one as a longstanding set of ideals to be
applied in other documents. The difference between them though causes a crisis in which the
Declaration puts forth more human rights than the UN can actually enforce.