You are on page 1of 12

Contents Introduction The Scope of Human Obligations To Individuals To Marriage and Children To Provide Work and Social Security

To Provide Education To Provide Legal Process To Culture and Leisure To International Movement To Non-Discrimination To World Order Deriving Obligations Comparable Documents Reconciliation of Belief Systems Conclusion Sources

The moral codes that emerge in this selection of humanistic texts culminate in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations. In the United Nations Charter, the peoples of the United Nations affirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women. They pledged themselves to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms. Because a common understanding of these rights and freedoms was of the greatest importance for the full

It urged that every individual and every organ of society. being endowed by nature with reason and conscience." The Nineteenth Century English legal philosophers. Duties of a juridical nature presuppose others of a moral nature which support them in principle and constitute their basis. duties express the dignity of that liberty. He replied that a declaration of rights is. The Bogota Declaration then enumerated individual duties and also duties with respect to social security and welfare. . national and international. argued that the Declaration should likewise state explicitly the responsibilities that went along with many of the rights. In the development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. in dignity and in rights. When Tom Paine helped draw up the French Declaration of the Rights of Man in the Eighteenth Century. The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man signed by the 21 countries who formed the Organization of American States in Bogota in 1948 stated in its Preamble that All men are born free and equal. keeping this Declaration constantly in mind. The fulfillment of duty by each individual is a prerequisite to the rights of all. . Guy Perez Cisneros. and. should strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures. Jeremy Bentham and John Austin saw rights as defined by duties. he was asked in the National Assembly whether a declaration of the duties attendant on rights should also be drawn up. also a declaration of duties: "Whatever is my right as a man is also the right of another. The fact that citizens have duties that relate to the community and their own personal development is noted in passing in the next to last article of the Declaration. In this he was joined by Alexei . by reciprocity. Austin wrote that every right rested on a related duty imposed on one or more persons other than those enjoying the right. The duties entailed by rights have been a matter of concern since the formulation of statements of rights began. While rights exalt individual liberty.realization of this pledge. the delegate from Cuba. they should conduct themselves as brothers one to another. . Rights and duties are interrelated in every social and political activity of man. and it becomes my duty to guarantee as well as to possess. But the duties entailed by rights are not explicitly addressed. the General Assembly proclaimed in 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance. It is not possible to promote respect for these rights and freedoms while ignoring that acceptance of them also implies acceptance of obligations or duties ensuring the viability of these rights and freedoms.

property. of India. the Declaration contains a general statement of duties that covers the entire document. it is easy enough to define the duties of Man and Woman and correlate every right to some corresponding duty to be first performed. perhaps. To meet this concern. reviewing the proposal for the UN Declaration. jurisdictional or international status of a country or territory to which a person belongs. Thus the very right to live accrues to us only when we do the duty of citizenship of the world. the Confucian philosopher Chung-Shu Lo commented that "the basic ethical concept of Chinese social political relations is the fulfillment of the duty to one's neighbor. The transformation from rights to obligations is largely an exercise in editing. And since the resulting declaration is founded on universally accepted rights and freedoms. remarked that rights depend on attitudes and habits related to a sense of obligation rather than a sense of entitlement: "I learnt from my illiterate but wise mother that all rights to be deserved and preserved came from duty well done. it presumably offers a universally acceptable set of guidelines to actions. As members of their community. Other civilizations have long had a concept of duties inherent in rights.Pavlov of the Soviet Union. has the following obligations. political or other opinion. drew attention to Mahatma Gandhi’s contention that all rights emerge from obligations. The Scope of Human Obligations 1 All human beings are born with reason and a conscience. She argued. and every organ of society. rather than the claiming of rights. religion. that the Declaration of Rights was in fact a declaration of obligations. language. birth or other status." Similarly. Every other right can be shown to be a usurpation hardly worth fighting for. who argued that the Declaration was not intended to be a statement of selfish gains by individuals. To Individuals . sex. which can be aspired to if not immediately met. 3 These obligations are without exemptions due to political. Lakshmi Menon. like Paine. a trust." To enable recognition of the duties inherent in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the following list of obligations has been extracted from it. In addition. in which alone the free and full development of a person’s personality is possible. color. It is in fact a set of commandments that people choose for themselves when they agree to rights for all. From this one fundamental statement. In India. 2 These obligations are without exemptions due to race. whether it is independent. every individual. non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty. Mahatma Gandhi. national or social origin. another reviewer.

born free and equal. 17 Free people held in slavery or servitude. worship or observance. See that the law protects people against such attacks. 7 Allow all people freedom of opinion and expression without interference. without compulsion. with equal and universal suffrage. liberty and personal security of all people. 13 Take part in the government of your country. detained or exiled. 16 Do not attack a person's honor and reputation. conscience and religion. 11 Let all people express their choice of religion or belief in public and in private. 15 Do not arbitrarily interfere with another person’s privacy. home. or to freely change it. 5 Respect and protect the life. in teaching. 6 Prevent anyone from being arbitrarily arrested. 18 Prevent people from being tortured or subjected to cruel. inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. family. Let it not be taken from them unlawfully. receive and express thoughts and opinions in any way they wish. Your laws must protect people against such interference. 10 Allow all people freedom of thought. directly or through freely chosen representatives. alone or with others. through periodic free elections by secret vote.4 Act towards other people as brothers and sisters. Prohibit all forms of slavery and the slave trade. in dignity and obligations. 8 Allow all people freedom of movement and place of residence within your country. 12 Base the authority of government on the will of the people. To Marriage and Children . practice. 9 Allow all people to assemble peacefully and form associations. Enable them to freely choose their religion or belief. Let them seek. or correspondence. without regard for frontiers. alone or with others. 14 See that everyone has the right to own property.

and have just and favorable working conditions. let a man and a woman of full age marry and found a family. 26 Assume that anyone charged with a crime is innocent until proved guilty. protect each family. as a person before the law. To Provide Legal Process 23 Recognize anyone. social and cultural obligations indispensable for the dignity and the free development of each person's personality. can choose their employment. the same social protection. the economic. 27 Find no one guilty of any crime because of an act or omission that did not constitute a crime under national or international law at the time it was committed. during marriage. or religion. 30 Give everyone equal access to public service in your country.19 With your neighbors and government. born in or out of wedlock. Do not impose a heavier penalty than the one applicable at the time the crime was committed. nationality. It is the foundation of society. through national effort and international co-operation. 29 Make sure everyone can work. . a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal. To Provide Work and Social Security 28 Carry out. 21 Recognize that men and women have equal rights going into marriage. Make sure such proof is according to law in a public trial at which the accused has had all the guarantees necessary for a defense. 22 Give special care and assistance to mothers and children. 25 In determining a person's rights and obligations or need to respond to a criminal charge. Give all children. in full equality. give them. and at the end of marriage. from anywhere. in accordance with the organization and resources of your State. with no limitation regarding race. 24 Treat everyone equally before the law and protect them equally under the law. 20 With the free and full consent of each.

including food. at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. without discrimination. It must strengthen respect for human obligations. To International Movement 42 Allow people to leave your country and to return to it. To Provide Education 36 Provide everyone with a free education. races and nations. put a reasonable limit on working hours. 33 Let anyone form or join a trade union for protection of their own interests. It must further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. . and give holidays with pay. 37 Make sure education provides full development of the human personality. Make technical and professional education generally available. and share in scientific advances and their benefits. so that they and their families can live out their lives with dignity. widowhood. 38 Allow parents to choose the kind of education given to their children. sickness. Make elementary education compulsory. clothing. 40 Make sure everyone can take part in the cultural life of the community. 35 See individuals and families have a standard of living adequate for health and well being. and freedoms.31 Provide a just and favorable remuneration to people who work. or when struck by unemployment. medical care and social services. literary or artistic work for its creator. disability. 32 Provide everyone with equal pay for equal work. It must promote understanding. enjoy the arts. To Culture and Leisure 39 To allow everyone rest and leisure. tolerance and friendship among all beliefs. 41 Protect the moral and material interests in a scientific. religions. or to their own. or other threats to livelihood beyond their control. housing. 34 Provide people with security in old age. rights. Give equal access to higher education to all on the basis of merit.

rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Deriving Obligations To develop a declaration of obligations. is not arbitrarily deprived of it. freedoms. This transformed declaration had the same structure and format as the original. Therefore to provide a statement of obligations that is more readily grasped. To World Order 48 Strive for a social and international order that realizes the obligations. or your State the right to act in any way to seek destruction of any of the obligations. and can change it if they want to. But do not let them enjoy asylum when they have committed non-political crimes or acts contrary to United Nations’ purposes and principles. the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is written in legal form by lawyers and is primarily a guide for legal determinations rather than a straight forward guide for people in general. . 49 Ensure that the universal obligations are not exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. this direct transformation was rewritten into a more conversational form and reorganized into clearer groupings. 46 Ensure that competent national tribunals remedy acts violating obligations. each statement in the Declaration of Rights was first transformed with minimum change into a statement of obligation. 50 Do not interpret anything in this declaration as giving you. Although it is not a legally binding document. . To Non-Discrimination 45 Protect everyone against incitement to discrimination and against discrimination that violates this Declaration. your group. 47 Make sure that exercise of universal obligations is limited by law solely to secure due recognition and respect for the rights. The same type of document is obtained when a direct transformation into obligations is made. rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. and obligations of others and to meet the just requirements of morality. rights and freedoms granted anyone by a constitution or by law.43 Give a fair hearing to those seeking asylum from persecution. 44 Ensure that everyone in your country has their nationality recognized. public order and general welfare in a democratic society.

freedom of movement is necessary to exercise a vote. and replacing the word ‘rights’ with ‘obligations’. In straight transformation it became: The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society. Like the Declaration of Rights this declaration of obligations is presented as a common standard that is both personal and shared by various groups in society. An interlineated comparison of the original rights document with the rewrite can be viewed by clicking here. Sometimes individual articles were split up or combined. and that this can only take place when one fulfills one's duties to community (Article 29). while one might see this as a defect. It suggests the minimum moral requirements for a philosophy. stable families are recognized as basic to a stable society. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights puts forward the concept that the free and full development of a person's personality is a primary goal. if not by their governments. It is a necessary companion statement to the declaration of rights. the declaration of obligations is clearly very general. This declaration of obligations represents a core set of values shared by many people in the world. However. It is the foundation of society. Similarly. religion. it is missing topics on which agreement could not be reached. Article 16 (3) in the declaration of rights is The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State. avoidance of abstractions. With further editing. and so the family is singled out for protection. of the importance of the rule of law. This view is shared by this declaration of obligations. The sequence was altered to allow individual obligations to come first.For example. use of more familiar words. Like the Declaration of Rights. because only dual recognition of both rights and obligations can form the basis for social behavior. Like the Declaration of Rights. it became: With your neighbors and government. and of a universal desire to promote social progress and better standards of life. Everyone has an obligation to ensure that the family is protected by society and the State. and so it has precedence in the sequence). reference to both sexes rather than ‘man’. as it tries to cover all of the different activities that impact a person's life. The resulting declaration of obligations is based on recognition of the inherent dignity and equal rights and obligations of all people. of the equal obligations of men and women. and to put dependent obligations after the other obligations that they depend on (for example. Changes included condensation or elaboration. protect each family. it is actually illustrative of the value of identifying areas of disagreement while enlarging the area of common understanding. . or other belief system if we are to obtain a world at peace.

proposed by the InterAction Council in 1997. with no limitation regarding race. but it would benefit from addenda that would describe how its articles respond to new challenges. such as those addressed by the former heads of state. nationality. like the Vienna Declaration. The chief difference is that the Vienna Declaration is directed to Governments and details the obligations. Article 21 Recognize that men and women have equal rights going into marriage. and signed by 27 former heads of state . "integrity". resources. "loyalty". and "forgiveness". Ethical terms leave greater scope for interpretation because of differences in the ethical component of different belief systems. also reflects some of the world concerns that have gained greater attention since 1948. The latter declaration also has the advantage of being derived from a founding document agreed to by governments. terrorism. and the need to protect the environment for future generations. World Conference on Human Rights in 1993. A comparison like this shows that the two documents have different functions. The Declaration of Human Responsibilities. and does so by developing a global ethic. and is indeed an important contribution to global ethics. The use of ethical terms in the Declaration of Responsibilities is distinct from the use of behavioral terms in the declaration of obligations. it can be compared with a more recent document with the same goal. and agencies that are to be supported if human rights are to be secured and enjoyed throughout the world. In contrast. "responsibly". "evil". In this it reflects its strong reliance on a World Ethic proposed by Dr.N. "humane". Hans Kung. For . As such. "love". or religion. a Catholic theologian. namely.Comparable Documents This declaration of obligations parallels to some extent the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the U. On the other hand the declaration of obligations defines the conditions within which such feelings can be freely exercised. machinery. "truthfully". abuse of women and children in war. "fairness". the declaration of obligations is derived directly from agreed-on human rights and formulated as a moral code that might be agreed on by different belief systems. marriage requires love. A Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities. loyalty and forgiveness and should aim at guaranteeing security and mutual support. The result is a document that makes greater use of general ethical terms such as "good". "inhumane". This document also recognizes that rights and obligations demand to be given equal importance. Thus the Declaration of Responsibilities states Article 17 In all its cultural and religious varieties. during marriage. Whereas the declaration of obligations states Article 20 With the free and full consent of each. are used in the Declaration of Responsiblities. which may vary between cultures. let a man and a woman of full age marry and found a family. and at the end of marriage. "honesty". Terms relating to subjective feelings such as love.

an obligation to prevent terrorism and to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change is contained within Article 5. Speaking and acting untruthfully is behavior that supports illegal executions. There have been other declarations that have been rambling. As the main components of a belief system are its world view and its ethos. Developing such a declaration from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has several advantages. and theft of property. the derivation of the corresponding obligations is straight forward. amongst other crimes. nonrepresentative government. It is unfortunate that because much of the international media are profit and/or ideologically driven. there is no explicit reference to an obligation to speak and act truthfully. illegal personal assault. the Universal Declaration was developed on a multicultural basis through extended discussion over a period of a year. to the extent possible. First. selfcontradictory. false arrest. and subsequently affirmed by over 170 nations. and religion. it is the behavior related to this ethical statement that is covered in the declaration. Common recognition of a declaration of human obligations could provide a basis for agreement on moral matters. Again. much bad art and propaganda is thrust on the peoples of the world. the Declaration was initially accepted by an overwhelming majority of UN members. If the Universal Declaration is accepted as a basis. the tendency to date has been to produce limited regional variants. This might be ameliorated by greater agreement among the other components of belief systems. Reconciliation of Belief Systems The prospects for world peace may be enhanced if common areas of agreement between different belief systems can be identified and expanded. although it might be desirable to seek an updated declaration of rights and obligations capable of wide acceptance. as there is in the Declaration of Human Responsibilities. Thus a set of obligations derived from such a well accepted set of rights stands a better chance of acceptance. Second. This is quite different from the hurried declarations that can emerge from brief conferences. and poorly organized. false imprisonment. The need to support development is contained within Article 28.example. this appears to be impractical at this time. understanding of different aesthetics is gradually being achieved by greater dissemination of art through the media and by cultural exchanges. is needed on both components. The need to combat poverty is contained within Article 35. interference with freedom of thought. agreement. or have been short and limited in scope. Similarly. The requirement to abstain from and prevent such behavior in the declaration of obligations is complements the ethical command in the Declaration of Human Responsibilities. Fourth. As far as the aesthetic aspects of the ethos are concerned. Third. expression. and the result is probably in large part acceptable to most . it is a comprehensive and logically organized document that is readily available.

inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The adherence to the following obligations by the United States. 37 Make sure education provides full development of the human personality. for example. has to tolerate uncertainty. Thus one has to recognize that fulfillment of obligations is going to be partial until their importance has been raised in people’s consciousness by education. . This being so. . 18 Prevent people from being tortured or subjected to cruel. 15 Do not arbitrarily interfere with another person’s privacy. It would be valuable in indicating common areas of agreement and raising topics for further discussion. . This in itself would do much to pave the way for agreement among belief systems. or correspondence. home. science pushes back the boundaries of the factual knowledge we are reasonably sure of. family. . Thus the world view of a belief system. The exceptions will be belief systems committed to personal gratification. While this is an important practical problem. because an essential requirement in reporting and analyzing facts gained in a scientific investigation is to state the degree of uncertainty remaining and to draw attention to the existence of alternative interpretations of the measurements obtained. it is still possible to undertake an examination of how this set of obligations resonates with individual belief systems. performance of the proposed obligations is by no means easy. This is something adherents to those systems can undertake easily. if it is to embrace scientific facts. conquest.belief systems. The other major component of a belief system. The biggest hope here is the set of the facts gained by scientific investigation. robbery. These obligations cannot be achieved without general agreement on facts about the world and the people in it. detained or exiled. It would give some hope of finding a kernel of morality that can be shared by different cultures. . because these are intended to be reproducible by anyone. By working away at areas of uncertainty. . one has to recognize that there is an acknowledged degree of uncertainty about such facts. This is where one seeks common ground among world views by identifying the range of facts that can be accepted by all. is questionable: 6 Prevent anyone from being arbitrarily arrested.Give equal access to higher education to all on the basis of merit. This degree of uncertainty is what opens the way for further scientific progress. is not treated directly in this set of obligations. share in scientific advances and their benefits. there are obligations that affect the factual content of a world view: 36 Provide everyone with a free education . Your laws must protect people against such interference. However. its world view. Nevertheless. 40 Make sure everyone can . and destruction. .

. it will emerge gradually through the exploration and expansion of these commonalities. Judaism—also share key values in common. An accepted expression of the obligations entailed by these rights is essential to defining the moral code at the center of agreement among world’s belief systems and to moving towards a more peaceful world. Hinduism. whatever the degree to which they have divided humankind. 1993. 1997. Paris. Vienna. Copyright © Rex Pay 2005. approved by the Ninth International Conference of American States. The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. Colombia. the world’s major religions—Western Christianity.Conclusion In The Clash of Civilizations. Huntington. Declaration and Programme of Action. Simon & Schuster Inc. Samuel Huntington concludes "Instead of promoting the supposedly universal features of one civilization. 1996. Sources The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Confucianism. . Orthodoxy. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. 2007 . 1948. New York." The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a major step forward in defining such commonalities. World Conference on Human rights. Islam. If humans are ever to develop a universal civilization. A Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities. Proposed by the InterAction Council. . the requisites for cultural coexistence demand a search for what is common to most civilizations. 1948. as many have pointed out. Buddhism. Taosim. Bogotá.