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Dclaration des Droits Your name

de lHomme et du Citoyen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
FRANCE | 1789

The Dclaration des Droits de lHomme et du Citoyen is a product of the French Revolution
that remains valid to this day.
The 17 articles of this declaration were passed by Frances National Assembly in the very
early days of the French Revolution, on 26 August 1789.* The revolution had begun the pre-
vious month with the storming of the Bastille, a prison in Paris, on 14 July 1789. The French
Revolution and this declaration were both inspired by the American Revolution, which had
concluded with the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
This dclaration was written and introduced in the National Assembly by Gilbert du Mo-
tier, a Frenchman perhaps better known as the Marquis de Lafayette one of the heroes of
the American Revolution. Lafayette worked with Thomas Jefferson, the writer of the Decla-
ration of Independence (United States, 1776), on drafts of this declaration.
The Dclaration des Droits de lHomme et du Citoyen forms part of Frances current con-
stitution (the constitution of the Fifth Republic, adopted 4 October 1958) and remains the
foundational document of rights in France.

L T
1 es Reprsentants du Peuple 1 he Representatives of the
Franais, constitus en Assem- French People, forming a Nation-
ble Nationale, considrant que al Assembly, considering that the
lignorance, loubli ou le mpris des droits ignorance, the forgetting or the contempt
5 de lHomme sont les seules causes des mal- 5 of the rights of Man are the sole causes
heurs publics et de la corruption des Gou- of public misfortunes and of the corrup-
vernements, ont rsolu dexposer, dans une tion of Governments, have resolved to set
Dclaration solennelle, les droits naturels, forth, in a solemn Declaration, the natural,
inalinables et sacrs de lHomme, afin que inalienable and sacred rights of Man, so
10 cette Dclaration, constamment prsente 10 that this Declaration, constantly present
tous les Membres du corps social, leur rap- before all the Members of the body social,
pelle sans cesse leurs droits et leurs devoirs; may recall to them without ceasing their
afin que les actes du pouvoir lgislatif, et rights and their duties; so that the acts of
ceux du pouvoir excutif, pouvant tre the legislative power, and those of the ex-
15 chaque instant compars avec le but1 de 15 ecutive power, able at each moment to be
toute institution politique, en soient plus compared with the objective1 of any politi- FOOTNOTES
respects; afin que les rclamations des ci- cal institution, may be more respectful of * Some sources report 27
toyens, fondes dsormais sur des principes it;2 so that the grievances of the citizens, August as the date of the
declarations adoption.
simples et incontestables, tournent tou- founded henceforth on simple and incon-
1 aim, goal
20 jours au maintien de la Constitution et au 20 testable principles, may turn always to3 the
2 i.e., respectful of the
bonheur de tous. maintenance of the Constitution and to the objective of the political
happiness of all. institution
3 i.e., may always be directed
or oriented toward
En consquence, lAssemble Nationale re- In consequence, the National Assembly
25 connat et dclare, en prsence et sous les 25 recognizes and declares, in the presence and Dclaration des
auspices de ltre suprme, les droits suiv- under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the Droits de lHomme
ants de lHomme et du Citoyen. following rights of Man and of the Citizen. et du Citoyen
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Art. 1er. Les hommes naissent et demeur- Article the First. Men are born and dwell4
30 ent4 libres et gaux en droits. Les distinc- 30 free and equal in rights. Social distinctions
tions sociales ne peuvent tre fondes que can be founded only on the common good.
sur lutilit commune.

Art. 2. Le but5 de toute association poli- Article 2. The objective5 of all political as-
35 tique est la conservation des droits naturels 35 sociation is the preservation of the natural
et imprescriptibles de lHomme. Ces droits and imprescriptible rights of Man. These
sont la libert, la proprit, la sret,6 et la rights are liberty, property, safety,6 and re-
rsistance loppression. sistance to oppression.

40 Art. 3. Le principe de toute Souverainet 40 Article 3. The principle of all Sovereignty


rside essentiellement dans la Nation. resides essentially in the Nation. No body,7
Nul corps,7 nul individu ne peut exercer no individual can exert any authority that
dautorit qui nen mane expressment. does not emanate expressly from it.8

45 Art. 4. La libert consiste pouvoir faire 45 Article 4. Liberty consists in being able
tout ce qui ne nuit pas autrui : ainsi, to do everything that does not harm oth-
lexercice des droits naturels de chaque ers; thus, the exercise of the natural rights
homme na de bornes9 que celles qui as- of each man has no bounds9 but those that
surent aux autres Membres de la Socit la assure to the other Members of Society
50 jouissance de ces mmes droits. Ces bornes 50 the enjoyment of these same rights. These
ne peuvent tre dtermines que par la Loi. bounds can be determined only by the Law.

Art. 5. La Loi na le droit de dfendre que Article 5. The Law has the right to prohibit
les actions nuisibles la Socit. Tout ce only actions harmful to Society. Everything
55 qui nest pas dfendu par la Loi ne peut tre 55 that is not prohibited by the Law cannot be
empch, et nul ne peut tre contraint impeded, and no one can be constrained to
faire ce quelle nordonne pas. do what it10 does not order.

Art. 6. La Loi est lexpression de la volont Article 6. The Law is the expression of the
60 gnrale. Tous les Citoyens ont droit de 60 general will. All Citizens have the right to
concourir personnellement, ou par leurs contribute personally, or by their Repre-
Reprsentants, sa formation. Elle doit sentatives, to its formation. It must be the
tre la mme pour tous, soit quelle protge, same for all, whether it protects or punish-
FOOTNOTES
soit quelle punisse. Tous les Citoyens tant es. All Citizens being equal in its eyes11 are
4 remain, live, spend their lives
65 gaux ses yeux sont galement admis- 65 equally eligible to all public dignities, po-
5 aim, goal
sibles toutes dignits, places et emplois sitions and occupations, according to their
6 security
publics, selon leur capacit,12 et sans autre capacity,12 and without any other distinc-
7 i.e., organization or political
distinction que celle de leurs vertus et de tion than that of their virtues and of their institution
leurs talents. talents. 8 i.e., from the nation or the
70 70 people

Art. 7. Nul homme ne peut tre accus, Article 7. No man can be accused, arrested 9 limits, borders

arrt ni dtenu que dans les cas dtermi- or detained but in the cases determined by 10 i.e., the law

ns par la Loi, et selon les formes quelle a the Law, and according to the forms that it 11 i.e., the eyes of the law

prescrites. Ceux qui sollicitent, expdient, has prescribed. Those who solicit, dispatch, 12 ability
75 excutent ou font excuter des ordres arbi- 75 execute or cause to be executed13 arbitrary Dclaration des
traires, doivent tre punis; mais tout citoy- orders14 must be punished; but any citizen Droits de lHomme
en appel15 ou saisi16 en vertu de la Loi doit called15 or seized16 in virtue of the Law17 et du Citoyen
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obir linstant: il se rend coupable par la must obey at once: he renders himself
rsistance. guilty by resistance.
80 80
Art. 8. La Loi ne doit tablir que des peines Article 8. The Law must establish only pun-
strictement et videmment18 ncessaires, et ishments [that are] strictly and evidently18
nul ne peut tre puni quen vertu dune Loi necessary, and no one can be punished but
tablie et promulgue antrieurement au in virtue of a Law19 established and promul-
85 dlit, et lgalement applique. 85 gated before the offense, and legally applied.

Art. 9. Tout homme tant prsum inno- Article 9. Any man being presumed in-
cent jusqu ce quil ait t dclar coupable, nocent until he has been declared guilty,
sil est jug indispensable de larrter, toute if it is judged indispensable to arrest him,
90 rigueur20 qui ne serait pas ncessaire pour 90 any rigor20 that would not be necessary for
sassurer de sa personne doit tre svre- securing his person must be severely re-
ment rprime par la loi. pressed by law.

Art. 10. Nul ne doit tre inquit pour ses Article 10. No one must be disturbed for
95 opinions, mme religieuses, pourvu que 95 his opinions, even religious,21 provided that
leur manifestation ne trouble pas lordre their manifestation does not trouble the
public tabli par la Loi. public order established by the Law.

Art. 11. La libre communication des pen- Article 11. The free communication of
100 ses22 et des opinions est un des droits les 100 thoughts22 and of opinions is one of the
plus prcieux de lHomme : tout Citoyen most precious rights of Man: any Citizen
peut donc parler, crire, imprimer libre- can therefore speak, write, and print freely,
ment, sauf rpondre de labus de cette lib- except to respond to the abuse of this lib-
FOOTNOTES
ert dans les cas dtermins par la Loi. erty in the cases determined by the Law.
13 i.e., carry out or order to be
105 105
carried out
Art. 12. La garantie des droits de lHomme Article 12. The guarantee of the rights of
14 i.e., orders outside the law
et du Citoyen ncessite une force pub- Man and of the Citizen necessitates a public
15 summoned or issued a
lique : cette force est donc institue pour force:23 this force is therefore instituted for summons
lavantage de tous, et non pour lutilit par- the advantage of all, and not for the particu- 16 arrested
110 ticulire24 de ceux auxquels elle est confie. 110 lar utility24 of those to whom it is confided. 17 i.e., under the terms of the
law
18 clearly
Art. 13. Pour lentretien de la force pub- Article 13. For the maintenance of the
19 i.e., under the terms of a law
lique, et pour les dpenses dadministration, public force, and for the expenses of admin-
20 harshness, severity
une contribution commune est indispens- istration, a common contribution25 is indis-
21 i.e., opinions on religion or
115 able: elle doit tre galement rpartie entre 115 pensable: it must be equally shared among
religious beliefs
tous les citoyens, en raison de leurs facults. all citizens, according to their means.26
22 ideas
23 i.e., police or military
Art. 14. Tous les Citoyens ont le droit de Article 14. All Citizens have the right to
24 personal gain
constater, par eux-mmes ou par leurs determine, by themselves or by their repre-
25 i.e., a tax
120 reprsentants, la ncessit de la contribution 120 sentatives, the necessity of the public con-
26 i.e., their ability to pay
publique, de la consentir librement, den tribution,27 to consent freely to it, to follow
27 i.e., taxes
suivre lemploi, et den dterminer la quoti- its use,28 and to determine its proportion,
28 i.e, to know how their taxes
t, lassiette, le recouvrement et la dure. assessment, collection, and duration. are used
125 Art. 15. La Socit a le droit de demander 125 Article 15. Society has the right to ask an Dclaration des
compte tout Agent public de son admin- accounting of every public Agent of his ad- Droits de lHomme
istration. ministration.29 et du Citoyen
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Art. 16. Toute Socit dans laquelle la Article 16. Every Society in which the
130 garantie des Droits nest pas assure, ni la 130 guarantee of Rights is not assured, nor the
sparation des Pouvoirs dtermine, na separation of Powers determined, has no
point de Constitution.30 Constitution.30

Art. 17. La proprit tant un droit invio- Article 17. Property being an inviolable
135 lable et sacr, nul ne peut en tre priv, si 135 and sacred right, no one can be deprived of
ce nest lorsque la ncessit publique, l- it, except when public necessity, legally de-
galement constate, lexige videmment,31 termined, evidently31 requires it, and under
et sous la condition dune juste et pralable the condition of a just and prior indemnity.32
indemnit.

FOOTNOTES
29 i.e., public officials and
government employees are
accountable to the public
for the discharge of their
duties
30 The negation used in French
here, na point, is stronger
than simply not or no.
The closest equivalent in
English would be along the
lines of has absolutely no
Constitution or has no
Constitution at all.
31 clearly
32 i.e., if the government takes
an individuals property, it
can be only for clear, legally
defined reasons and needs,
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Source of French text: Official French government transcript via Lgifrance
the individual
English translation by Dustin Tyler Joyce