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UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Adopted and proclaimed by United Nations General Assembly resolution 217 A(III) of 10 December 1948.

UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS


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,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged
the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of
speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the
common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion
against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental
human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women
and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations,
the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full
realization of this pledge,
Now, therefore,
The General Assembly,
Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all
peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this
Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights
and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and
effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among
the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
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, color, 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 defense.
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 attack upon his honor 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 his own, and to return to his 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 his country, directly or through freely chosen
representatives.
2. Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his 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 favorable 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 favorable 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.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

Reflections on the Articles


of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Atlantic Human Rights Centre at St. Thomas University adopted this Internet
project as one of its activities marking the 50th Anniversary of the Universal
Declaration.
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,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts,
which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in
which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speach and belief and freedom from
fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last
resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be
protected by the rule of law,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their
faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person
and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social
progress and better standards of life in larger freedoms,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with


the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of
human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest
importance for the full realization of this pledge,
Now, therefore,
The General Assembly
Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of
achievement for all peoples and nations, to the end that every individual and every
organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by
teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by
progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and
effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States
themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
The Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the thirty articles
which follow it demonstrate the ability and will of nations to agree to uphold and
respect the inherent human dignity of humankind.
The Preamble speaks to the fundamental worth of the human family based on
freedom, justice and peace throughout the world. It also recognizes that a world free
from want and need can only be attained if its people are free to exercise their
economic and social rights. The Preamble also lists the duties and responsibilities that
all human beings have to one another in the promotion and enforcement of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The articles which follow the Preamble set out in detail the fundamental rights and
freedoms which should be enjoyed by the human family throughout the world. That
we have the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is in great part due to the work of
Professor John Peters Humphrey from Hampton, New Brunswick. From 1947 to
1966, Professor Humphrey served as Director of the Human Rights Division at the
United Nations. His book, Human Rights and the United Nations: A Great Adventure,
relates in detail the delicate negotiations among nations which produced the Universal
Declaration.
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.
The very first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights speaks to the
dignity and inestimable worth of all human beings and underscores the duty and
responsibility which all persons have with regard to one another.
The Right of Solidarity is a core value underpinning human rights and finds special
expression in the interconnected world of the Third Millenium. In a world of new
technologically enhanced togetherness, all are beginning to grasp a new and more
radical dimension of unity.
"The world is my family." With these words, the great Gandhi drew attention to the
inter-dependence of all who share planet Earth, an interdependency to which
Canadians are open. We recognize, for example, that the world's resources, an
abundance over which we in Canada are the stewards, as the precious treasurer of air
and water - without which there cannot be life - and the small delicate biosphere of the
planet is not infinite, but on the contrary must be saved and preserved as a unique
patrimony belonging to all human kind.
The challenge in the new millenium, however, is presented by the fact that within this
perspective of unity and interdependence, the forces of division and antagonism raise
their ugly heads. Unless met and overcome by social justice, economic and political
participation, persons will be frustrated in their desire to enjoy human rights.
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, and conscience and should act towards one another in a
spirit of brotherhood.
Equality rights are a cornerstone for the practice of freedom. The enactment of antidiscrimination provisions found in federal and provincial human rights legislation
speaks to the determination of Canadians to ensure equality rights.
Under the Diefenbaker Bill of Rights, as with the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms, every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the
equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination.

We seek to ensure that neither ill-willed discrimination nor systemic discrimination


will have any place in society. Barriers which stand in the way of the full participation
of all Canadians on the basis of their common citizenship must be vigourously
challenged and removed.
Article 3
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of the person.
As the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights approaches, it
is fitting to reflect on the successes and failures of the effort to protect fundamental
rights and civil liberties.
In considering the right to life, liberty and the security of the person, one will recall
the entrenchment of the concept into Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms. Section 7 guarantees that these rights are respected for all Canadians and
ensures basic principles of justice for all.
As evidenced by our jurisdictional and legislative track record, Canada has readily
adopted this fundamental right. Some other governments, however, have not; ready
and willing trade partners of Ottawa's such as China, Indonesia and Iraq have been
responsible for gross violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In
contemplating future trade missions and relations, it would be ethically wrong and
morally irresponsible to divorce human rights issues from trade policy.
Article 4
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be
prohibited in all their forms.
While traditional forms of slavery have diminished in most countries, we must be
mindful and vigilant to ensure that their existence in any form is not tolerated.
While slavery was the first human right issue to arouse worldwide attention and
international concern, we must face the fact that the practice of slavery remains a
persistent problem in many parts of the world. As the United Nations has pointed out,
the word "slavery" today covers a variety of human rights violations.
In addition to traditional slavery, contemporary abuses include the sale of children, the
exploitation of child labour, child pornography, the sexual mutilation of female
children, the use of children in armed conflicts, and debt bondage. It has been noted

that the groups who are most vulnerable to such forms of exploitation are women,
children, migrant workers, nomadic groups and indigenous populations.
No society is immune and Canada must address the issues of child exploitation, child
prostitution, violence against women, and other unacceptable forms of exploitation.
We must also take steps to ensure that our practices abroad do no submit the most
disadvantaged to slavery and abuse.
Article 5
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment.
The prohibition against wanton infliction of pain by the State has been part of English
law since the Bill of Rights in 1688. An almost identical provision exists in the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Canada is a signatory
and, of course, in Section 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Article 5 of the Declaration is a reflection of the humanity and respect for human life
that we like to think are entrenched in all civilized societies and to which all societies
aspire. It is a reflection of the social contract that the State's omnipresent power must
not transgress the dignity of the State's lowliest citizen. It is also a reflection of every
society's realization that the State's power can be used to excess and must, therefore,
be checked by boundaries of human decency and compassion.
While truly civilized societies and the human spirit naturally strive for freedom from
cruelty, we must not lose our perspective. There are many Canadians who are
legitimately concerned that our laws have become too liberal and those who flaunt
them too often escape fair retribution.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted in the aftermath of a war that
witnessed torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment perpetuated by so-called
civilized States on a scale of brutality and to a degree of organization that were
probably unprecedented in history.
Article 6
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
Article 6 guarantees everyone the right to be recognized as a person in law. This
means that human beings possess, by sole virtue of their existence, a legal personality.

Similar provisions exist in Canada, including Article 1 of Quebec's Charter of


Individual Rights and Freedoms and Article 1 of the Quebec Civil Code. The latter
deals with the notion of legal personality, stating that every human being possesses a
legal personality and is entitled to the full enjoyment of civil rights.
Article 6 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, therefore, proclaims that
every individual is subject to the law everywhere in the world in recognition of his or
her legal personality.
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.
The essence of Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is found in the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and forms the foundation of the rule of law
which governs our legislative and judicial actions.
The preamble of the Declaration affirms that it is intended to articulate a "common
standard of achievement for all peoples and nations." Since the Declaration was
adopted almost 50 years ago, Canada has taken significant actions, passed laws and
produced court rulings that have contributed to making the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights a reality in the lives of all Canadians.
Despite the progress that has been made, however, much remains to be done. Each
day brings new challenges which remind our Executive, Legislative and Judicial
bodies that the achievement of this common standard is a never-ending task.
Article 8
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals
for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him under the law.
It is not sufficient in domestic or international law to declare that certain rights and
freedoms are inviolable without providing appropriate remedies or sanctions should
these rights be breached.
In the international sphere, the International Court of Justice may hear cases dealing
with abuses of human rights at the international level. As well, we have seen nations
band together to impose sanctions against regimes which ignore or abuse human
rights.

Human rights are more than words on a piece of paper. They are living tenets as to
how we should live our lives. Without effective enforcement mechanisms, violation of
these rights can occur without redress. It is important that those who violate these
rights be brought to justice for their wrongdoing.
Article 9
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Despite their differences, a common bond relates each Article in the Universal
Declaration-the belief that it is necessary to urge the people and governments of the
world to dedicate themselves to the rights and freedoms necessary to protect human
dignity, well-being and security.
One recognized principle is the guarantee that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary
arrest, detention or exile. This is a fundamental freedom which has great implications
for the realization of social harmony, peace of mind, and well-being.
There are, however, some countries in which this right is not recognized. From a
knock on the door at midnight to the kidnapping of targetted individuals or members
of social groups, the global media has graphically demonstrated the socially
devastating effects of arbitrary arrest. From the authoritarian regimes of Central Africa
to the emerging Asian democracies, millions of people around the world live in
constant fear and apprehension of such persecution.
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.
While the legal process in Canada, as in other democracies, decrees an independent
hearing with examination and cross-examination of witnesses during a trial, not all
countries enjoy the protection assured by Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights.
Fifty years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration, the holding of an
independent trial remains a privilege denied in dictatorships. Under such regimes, the
accused can not usually count on the good grace of the sovereign because justice and
politics are so closely linked. We must therefore be even more thankful that we are
among the privileged, given the very small number of States which honour the
guarantees that we call fundamental freedoms. We mistakenly believe that this

individual security has always existed in history and its survival will always be
assured, but that is not the case.
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 an act or
ommission 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.
Sub-article 1 of Article 11 is similar in wording to section 11(d) of the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms which reads:
Any person charged with an offence has the right to be presumed innocent until
proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and
impartial tribunal;
and was proclaimed as part of the Constitution Act of Canada in 1981 and as such
entrenches the presumption of innocence as part of the supreme law in Canada.
Similar wording of this right can be found in the Canadian Bill of Rights of 1960 and
in the various provincial human rights codes and charters.
This principle of the presumption of innocence of an accused person dates at least as
far back as the Roman Empire when a judge, in adjudicating a case involving a charge
of embezzlement, became irritated by the absence of proof and the accused's
protestations of innoncence, turned to the Roman Emperor Julian and demanded, "Can
anyone ever be proved guilty if it is enough to just deny the charge?" Julian replied,
"Can anyone ever be proved innocent if it is enough just to accuse him?"
Chief Justice Dickson of the Supreme Court of Canada in Regina v. Oakes, 1986, 26
D.L.R. 200 (4th) beginning at page 212, said:
The presumption of innocence protects the fundamental liberty and human dignity of
any and every person accused by the State of criminal conduct. An individual charged
with a criminal offence faces grave social and personal consequences, including
potential loss of physical liberty, subjection to social stigma and ostracism from the
community, as well as other social, psychological and economic harms. In light of the
gravity of these consequences, the presumption of innocence is crucial. It ensures that

until the State proves an accused's guilt beyond all reasonable doubt he or she is
innocent.
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.
This article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is perhaps more relevant
now than when it was enacted. Protection of privacy has become vitally important as
we move into the age of computers. We are all aware of the personal data that is stored
in the memory of a computer and the abuse one could suffer if any of that data was
either incorrect or used in an unauthorized fashion.
Our medical histories, credit information, bank balances and investment information
are all stored in various computer terminals. The government has records containing
income tax information, and with recent changes to the Canada Elections Act,
Elections Canada now has permanent records of where we live, the number of voters
in each household and the sex of each voter.
We must be protected against the unauthorized collection or use of such information.
One has only to look at the establishment and the work of both federal and provincial
privacy commissions to see the importance that Canadians place on this right.
Everyone in Canada should be able to live their lives peacefully without the fear of
unwarranted invasions of their privacy.
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 his own, and to return to
his country.
The rights to move freely within one's country, or leave it and return to it, are rights of
such fundamental importance in Canada that they are entrenched in Section 6 of the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In this country, as in others, the right to
move freely to seek employment or find better living conditions is a necessary part of
life for many individuals.

The history of this article is interesting because it was originally adopted to send a
signal to the countries of the world that families should not be split by reason of laws
which prevent freedom of movement.
There are still countries which prevent their citizens from moving freely within their
borders or from leaving their country of origin and returning with the same kind of
freedom we enjoy as Canadians. The cannot help but lead to the breakup of families
and to the deterioration of working and living conditions for those who do not enjoy
such freedoms.
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 from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to
the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Although a remarkable number of states and regimes around the world hold high the
standards outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there are those who
do not. Day after day, global media providers report to us in graphic detail the
suppressive measures taken against those who would exercise the full extent of their
right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, right to freedom of opinion and
expression, right to peaceful assembly and association, or insist on the freedom to
enjoy any of the other fundamental freedoms enunciated in this Declaration.
What is our responsibility, then, when those who would be persecuted for their
thoughts or actions seek asylum? In what circumstances or scenarios is it permissible
to reject the invocation of that right?
Article 14 provides clear direction and guidance in respect of the issue of "right to
refuge"; it sets an unequivocal moral and ethical impetus for protection of civil
liberties and freedom from persecution by providing safe harbour for those who would
flee punishment for the exercise or enjoyment of those liberties. By the same token,
however, Article 14 differentiates between bona fide asylum invocations and those
cases which are not meritous.
As a country, we have seen many cases of those who would land on Canadian shores
while fleeing oppression. From those who would escape the horror of culturally
sanctioned mutilation, to refugees of civil conflict, to those who would suffer for
retaining contra-state value systems and beliefs.

Article 15
1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.
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.
Time and again, we are reminded of how fortunate we are to live in such a
magnificent country, rich with a multitude of resources and perspectives, where we
can express without fear the rights and freedoms that our Canadian nationality confers
upon us.
We can be justly proud of our Canadian citizenship, one of the most coveted in the
world. And the proof, in addition to our much sought-after passport, are the thousands
of immigrants who knock on our door each year in the hope of settling among us and
benefitting from opportunities which they are denied in their countries of origin.
When they arrive in Canada, these immigrants agree to respect the responsibilities
which go hand in hand with our citizenship.
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.
To define a typical family today is next to impossible as there has been growing
diversity in family forms. While the "traditional" family of two parents and their
children still exists, there is a need to provide them with greater support. At the same
time, society is confronted with other families composed of parents who are
remarried, families living as common-law couples, single-parent families and families
with same-sex partners. These families present us with new challenges and we must
find appropriate way to meet their needs. Each, however, is a group of people united
by a common affiliation.

The Canadian family has gone through other transformations in the last thirty years.
Women have entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers. The reality for many
families is that women can no longer stay home to raise their children. In fact, the
dual-income family has surpassed the "traditional" one-income family unit. As a
result, the modern family faces many new challenges. Both parents must balance their
time between work and household responsibilities. They must find affordable, reliable
and high-quality child care.
Clearly, a commitment to the welfare of families is a priority for Canadians. If
something goes wrong in a family, it has repercussions on society as a whole. Families
are intricately linked to the economy and to social life. The family has seen a lot of
change and is susceptible to seeing a lot more. Governments must be attentive to these
changes and adapt appropriately. The family is a unit of individuals and, as such, its
members have rights to proper protection and resources to fulfil their role in society.
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 17, while enshrined in the 1960 Diefenbaker Bill of Rights, is not found in the
constitutionally entrenched Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Section 1(a) of the Bill of Rights states:
It is hereby recognized and declared that in Canada, there have existed and shall
continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, national origin, colour,
religion or sex, the following human rights and fundamental freedoms, namely:
(a) the individual right to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of
property, and the right not to be deprived thereof without due process of law; [...]
As the right to property has been interpreted over the years by the courts both in
Canada and elsewhere, it has broadened in meaning so that it no longer relates just to
owning or possessing real or personal property.
It has been interpreted to encompass such matters as social security, health care and
the right to a minimal standard of living. While most of us in Canada take for granted
that property will not be taken from us without due process, one has to be ever
vigilant to ensure that this is the case.

Article 18
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this rights
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.
While much has been written and spoken about freedom of religion, little reflection
has been given to the part of this article which lifts up the dual, related freedoms of
thought and conscience. These freedoms are particularly vital in the context of
Parliament. The freedom of Members of Parliament to voice their opinions without
fear of retribution is of highest importance if representation is to be effective and
relevant to the people.
There comes a time in the life of almost every Parliamentarian or representative when
he or she feels compelled to break from the views of the leadership based on his or her
own thoughtful judgement brought to the issue at hand. Our political institutions can
only grow and become more relevant to the people whose views they are to represent
when office holders feel free from time to time to voice opinions which may differ
from those of the poltical party to which they belong. Such actions demonstrate that
the freedoms of thought and conscience framed in this article of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights are alive and well within our political system.
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 medium and regardless of frontiers.
In the past 50 years, changes in communication technology have enhanced the
circulation of ideas and information worldwide. These changes, however, have been
and continue to be accompanied by many problems including the fear that personal
information will fall into the wrong hands. This ongoing debate between the benefits
and drawbacks of communication/information technology will no doubt continue as
we move into the 21st century.
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.

Freedom of association is such a fundamental tenet of our lives in Canada that it is


found in Section 1(e) of the Diefenbaker Bill of Rights and in Section 2(d) of the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms where "everyone" is guaranteed the
"fundamental freedom" of association.
In this context, it has been used to support the right of people to form unions, to gather
together in public places to both support and oppose government, and espouse causes
both popular and unpopular.
Combined with the freedom of expression and the freedom of peaceful assembly,
people have the tools at their disposal to gather together in order to have their voices
heard.
Article 21
1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or
through freely chosen representatives.
2. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his 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 or by equivalent free voting
procedures.
Article 21(1) speaks to the right of persons to contribute to the running of public
affairs. Everyone has the right to govern or to choose government representatives. The
term "governing" is in this instance used in its larger sense and includes not only
legislative responsibilities, but also executive and judicial ones.
As for the manner of choosing certain governments, those responsible for
implementing the will of the people, article 21(3) invokes the human right to freely
express one's choice of candidates in periodic elections. For legislative functions, this
article explains that elections must be genuine. As for the non-political executive
functions, that is, public administration, this is clearly separate from the declaratory
intention that positions must be filled not by arbitrary choice, but by competition open
to all those who meet the normal job requirements. We can also infer that judges, too,
must be chosen on the basis of merit in a transparent process.
Article 22

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to
realization, through national effort and international cooperation 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.
Economic, social and cultural rights constitute the conditio sine qua non for the
dignity and development of the person. Unlike civil and political rights which are selfexecutory and directly justifiable, the economic, social and cultural rights require the
intervention of governments and society with appropriate programs to give substance
to these rights.
The enforcement model for economic, social and cultural rights is that of a social
audit. Therefore, pursuant to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights, Canada submits periodic reports to the United Nations Committee on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which evaluates the steps taken by Canada to
implement these rights. The social auditor role played by the Committee on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at the international level could be instituted
domestically and provide for a national social assessment in much the same manner
that the Auditor General provides an assessment of fiscal programs.
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.
Ensuring the right to work is an important factor in allowing all Canadians the
potential to achieve and enjoy the full benefits and advantages conferred by their
citizenship in this great country of ours. Participants in paid employment represent the
key to achieving a reasonable standard of living for Canadians and their families. It
also generates economic growth and the resulting tax revenues can fund the social
programs that have traditionally been such an important and defining part of our
society. For the right to work must also be supported by social protections, in the form

of income and other assistance, for those individuals who are unable to participate in
the paid labour force for any of a variety of reasons. While these may include such
factors as maternity, sickness and disability, they have been increasingly
overshadowed in recent years by widespread unemployment which today prevents 1.4
million Canadians from exercising their right to work.
In addition to having to accept a much lower standard of living, Canada's jobless often
suffer a loss of dignity, and many are forced to move away from their home
communities in their search for paid work.
In Canada, our right to form and join trade unions is indeed widely upheld, unlike the
unfortunate case in some coutries, where association with such organizations can
often carry stiff penalties. Our workers are also protected, to some extent, by federal
and provincial minimumm-wage laws, although the adequacy of the wage levels
should perhaps be revisited.
Article 24
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitations of
working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
Is the right to leisure a claimable right or is it merely an intellectual ideal with no
tangible content?
The right to leisure receives tangible content through the programs of government
which enhance equality of opportunity. The right to leisure speaks to the fullness of
opportunity without discrimination, freedom from exclusion from the benefits of
modern society, freedom from want. The right to leisure is essentially a programmatic
right, that is, it depends for its meaning and engagement on the programs of society.
The specific entitlement of the right to leisure finds its tangible content through
legislative action, collective agreements, the developing practices of society with
regard to recreation and use of open space, the terms of employment of the person
concerned with regard to non-working hours and days, and the general benefits
offered by the developing recreation and leisure programs of society.
Article 25
1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing 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 livlihood 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.
Much has been accomplished in the past 50 years toward achieving significant gains
in health status, however, the challenge to improve health and well-being will
continue to be one of the greatest challenges facing all Member States in the next
century.
There is no doubt that well-being remains a highly desirable condition for individuals
and for society. However, the factors which affect our well-being continue to undergo
dramatic changes. Economic instability, environmental degradation, inequality,
poverty, violence, addiction, and cultural and racial conflict are the symptoms of a
global society that is having difficulty in maintaining well-being.
Today, we are beginning to more fully appreciate and understand the importance of
socio-economic status as the single most important determinant of an individual's
health. In countries all over the world, people with high socio-economic status are
healthier and generally live longer. But there is another dimension to this picture.
When we look at the overall health of a population, the distribution of income and
social status is, in fact, a more important factor than per capita income or what a
country spends on health care. The narrower the spread of income in a given society,
the higher will be its overall health status.
Internationally, we have made great strides in recognizing the importance of the broad
determinants of health and in responding to them. But, in the face of new global
trends, a clearer strategy for action is now required.
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.

The right to education is one of the most important economic, social and cultural
rights. Education involves the entire process of social life by means of which
individuals and groups learn to develop consciously within, and for the benefit of, the
national and international communities, the whole of their personal capacities,
attitudes, aptitudes and knowledge.
Education should be directed towards the eradication of conditions which perpetuate
and aggravate major problems affecting human well-being, inequality and injustice.
Education needs to deal, for example, with such problems as the struggle against
illiteracy.
The right to education includes the right to literacy. Being able to read and write is for
every citizen the pre-condition of personal development, effective participation in
society and the basis for access to the knowledge, skills and the ideas and cultures
which will shape the world of the Third Millenium.
Article 27
1. Everyone has the right to freely 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.
Artists are the firekeepers of a nation's culture and this declaration defends their right
to express themselves in novels, photographs, songs, plays, films and poetry. In any
totalitarian state, artists are among the first victims of repression.
We might also take a moment to reflect on Article 27, which not only protects artistic
expression, but copyright as well. Copyright recognizes that artistic works are owned
by their creators.
In Canada, a haven of literary freedom, writers come from around the world to meet
their public and read their stories. But every year, some authors cannot attend these
gatherings because they have been arrested by dictatorial governments and imprisoned
for their beliefs.
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.

We who live in Canada, as for peoples living in all parts of the global society, are
realizing that human rights are central and decisive for the internal order of domestic
and international society. Article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
calls our attention to this reality. We are reminded that human rights are critical for the
very understanding of the State and the individual's place and responsibility in it.
The opportunities for the co-existence of all peoples of the world in solidarity with
one another presented by the new communication technologies, the world economic
market, indeed by the new world order, constitutes an opportunity for human rights.
There exists in the world of the Third Millenium a new opportunity for reducing the
gap between rich and poor peoples under the light of international justice, a new
opportunity for eradicating discrimination based on race, religious or non-religious
convictions and political ideology.
It is therefore appropriate that human rights values be elevated to the category of a
global imperative such that the rights of peoples 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.
In article 29, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us that rights carry
responsibilities. It reminds us that everyone has duties to the community.
A half century ago, the Declaration's drafters could not have imagined the world as we
know it; a world where substances released on one continent contribute to health
problems on another; a world where the destruction of forests or industrial emissions
of greenhouse gases in one part of the globe have the power to affect the global
climate.

Today, we are more aware than ever that we live in a global village; that community
now extends beyond towns, beyond regions and beyond countries. Our duty to the
community is nothing short of our duty to care for the environment from pole to pole.
We are beginning to understand the urgent need to care for our global commons: to
protect the ozone layer, to rid roads and fields of the scourge of landmines, to curb
climate change, to care for our forests and the bounty of the seas. The Montreal
Protocol on ozone-depleting substances and the International Convention on
Landmines are fine examples of what can be achieved when human rights and human
health are respected.
Today, Article 29 is a very valid reminder that the dignity and rights of all members of
the human family can be preserved if we accept our duty to the global community. By
accepting that duty, we will avoid the tragedy of the commons.
Article 30
Nothing in the 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.
Article 30 serves much the same function as the Constitution of Canada which makes
explicit the principle that one part of the Constitution cannot be used to invalidate or
repeal another. Examing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in a structural
sense, it is clear that the inclusion of Article 30 serves a critical function, in that it
precludes the possibility of using the provisions of one article to trump the intended
function and provisions of another.
For example, article 18 articulates the universal right to freedom of religious
observance, accompanied by the right to manifest that religion or belief in teaching,
practice, worship and observance. Article 16(3) articulates the importance of the
family as the natural and fundamental group unit of society which is entitled to
protection by society and the State. In light of article 30 then, it follows that, for
example, a devoutly religious family cannot justify the invluntary "marrying off" of a
child, thus trumping Article 16(2), which spells out that marriage shall be entered into
only with the free and full consent of the individual, the act of marrying that child
would stand in direct contravention of the Declaration.
This is not a hollow example. In many countries and societies around the world,
children are subjected to family duress and forced into marriage according to their
families' religious convictions.

The fundamental point of Article 30 is to avoid the fallacious interpretation of any of


the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.