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What is The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and does it matter?
If you don't know your liberties how can you take them, defend them or help others?

Purpose: I read a lot of talk on +Google+ about #Libertarianism , #Occupy movement, #Anarchy , #Liberalism , #community #Rights , (not so much of this one though) #Responsibility , #SOPA , #ACTA , #WIPO , #philosophy , of #freespeech and #political theory. However without grasping where we are in history and using the ammunition previous generations have already supplied for the purpose of defending people, individuals activity is likely to be less effectual than it might be and more heat than light.

Background: The United Nations General Assembly recognises human dignity as equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, human rights should be protected by the rule of law, friendly relations between nations must be fostered, the peoples of the UN have affirmed their faith in human rights, the dignity and the worth of the human person, the equal rights of men and women and are determined to promote social progress, better standards of life and larger freedom and have promised to promote human rights and a common understanding of this.

The international community's dedication to safeguarding the universal ideals of human dignity is led by The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The executive function is lead on a daily basis by the High Commissioner Ms. Navanethem Pillay.

What is the UDHR?: A quick summary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, please take the time to read the full version.

1. Liberty and fairness for all.
2. Diversity and Equality.
3. Security & a peaceful private life.
4. No slavery.
5. No torture.
6. No favouritism in law.
7. Everyone can access justice equitably.
8. When wronged access to legal help.
9. Protection by rule of law before punishment.
10. Justice is fair and public.
11. Innocent until proven guilty.
12. Protection from the State.
13. Freedom of travel.
14. May claim asylum.
15. Citizenship, you can change country if you want.
16. Can marry and have kids.
17. Can own things.
18. Freedom of belief.
19. Freedom of speech.
20. Right to chose own friends
21. Right to vote and be politically active.
22. Right to learn and receive support from govt.
23. Right to fair & safe working.
24. Right to rest.
25. Right to medical assistance.
26. Right to education.
27. Right to take part in community.
28. Right to stability and rule of law.
29. Respect others.
30. Rights cant be taken away.

Would you like to know more?
Simplified Version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Right:
Amnesty International (human rights campaign group):
Wikipedia on Human Rights:

Some UK specific links on Human Rights
The Human Rights Act 1998:
Equality and Human Rights Commission:

TAGS: +United Nations; +European Union; +Amnesty International; #humanrights #ethics #peace   #responsibility    #declaration #universal #conflict #resolution #respect #fairness #dignity #legal #protection #HabeasCorpus #conscience #Democracy   #Diversity   #Relations #USconstitution #safeguarding #Equality . Please feel free to add appropriate tags in the comments, people or links to add to the richness of the post thank you for reading!
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 ...
Roland Mösl's profile photoTerry Floyd's profile photonomad dimitri's profile photoMichael Beckett's profile photo
+Gabriel T you are referring to a rebuttal on behalf of the Singapore Minister of Law to a previous disclosure by +Human Rights Watch, I tag them to give them a right to reply. I had not referred to this organisation in my post. As you suggest Human Rights are tools that may be used well, opportunisticly or poorly as with anything else in human society. I certainly feel society works best when the rule of law and human rights dovetail together in a complimentary manner, this is certainly my vision of politics.

Information on HRW from their website FYI Dear Reader:

Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For more than 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.

Mission Statement:
Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world. We stand with victims and activists to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and to bring offenders to justice. We investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable. We challenge governments and those who hold power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law. We enlist the public and the international community to support the cause of human rights for all.
+Michael Beckett this is the text from a post I made last week detailing a stay I had in Los Angeles County Jail.

I can most certainly attest to these conditions firsthand. If anything, this report is not touching upon how severe and pervasive this violence is or how damaging this custodial misconduct can be psychologically. My stay there in June of 2010 was the most horrifying and demeaning experience of my life, and what was done to me was not even close to as bad as what I saw others endure on a near daily basis.

When I first arrived to be booked it was because the Santa Clarita substation would not give me my psych meds, so they transported me to County which was not a standard procedure for them. The deputy who transported me told the booking deputies that I was a troublemaker because he had to make the fifteen or so mile drive which screwed up his day after advising them my behavior could be erratic if I didn't take my medication. The booking deputies called me a crazy faggot and other derogatory terms trying to provoke me into behavior that would give them an excuse to rough me up. I didn't get exited but when I responded that they were uneducated jack-booted thugs during a pat-search the officer searching me sharply punched me in the groin, threw me against the wall, and punched me in the kidneys. They said I had better learn respect or I would never make it in their world.

Then when I got to the medical floor about eight hours later as part of the classification process, I told the nurse performing the intake about my psychological disorders that had been diagnosed and the medications I was prescribed. The doctor that I spoke with after that said I was lying and they would not give me any medications even though I was booked with prescriptions in my property. I did not know that many people fake illnesses because a medical unit is "easy time" compared to general population. I got angry and said that I would be a danger to myself or others if not medicated, and then a deputy came in and told me to shut up or I would be sorry. I said that I needed my meds and would be violent if I had to in order to prove it.

Then I got roughed up again, thrown on the ground hard with a few incidental strikes thrown in for good measure. I got put in the SHU (Special Housing Unit) on suicide watch where I only had a smock to wear and a thin blanket, but there was no mattress so I was sleeping on bare steel and it was incredibly cold - probably around fifty degrees. The water did not work at all, and when I used the intercom to say I had no drinking water, I was ignored.

After about two days of only having the half-pint of milk with my meals to drink and being off my meds for about four days, I was brought down from my cell to speak with some kind of counselor or administrative official. She was about the most incompetent person I ever spoke with, and told me that a search for my medical records found nothing that indicated I required treatment or medication. I got very angry, and asked why if they thought I didn't need medication that I had several prescriptions when I was arrested that were in my property. She said that was irrelevant and there was no way I was going to get medication and told me to stop lying and wasting her time. I freaked out and screamed "I need my fucking meds bitch!" and kicked the edge of her desk which made some noise but didn't move it.

Two deputies ran in and kicked the chair out from under me, and I got the beatdown of a lifetime. They were kicking and punching me without me resisting at all for several minutes while I begged them to stop. They stripped the smock off me and dragged me naked up the flight of stairs to the tier of cells I was on that were grated for traction by the handcuffs at such an angle and force that not only did I get very cut up, but my wrists were bleeding. Then once in my cell they beat me some more, careful to make the blows across a large area to minimize bruising. They took my blanket when they left and said I would be sorry for messing with them, and even more sorry if I went to medical or said anything.

So I stood naked and freezing to the point of constant shaking and teeth chattering for the next two or three days with the running water not working in the cell. Only now I was not given meals, and every time the "Trusties" (other inmates who get special privileges for working) came by with the meals they would mock and taunt me by pretending they would give me food, making me beg, or telling me to do something sexually explicit. At first I was angry but as hunger and thirst wore me down, I began begging and sobbing, pleading for food and drink or even a blanket. Every time a deputy walked by no matter how hard I begged for even just a blanket or clothing - the only response was a disgusted or dispassionate stare or a twisted grin of amusement.

When I finally was let out, I was asked if I had enough yet and told if I behaved I could get breakfast. I got dressed and while I exited my cell saw magnetic signs affixed to the door that said "Combative", "Special Diet", and a piece of paper that was an incident report and drawn in large Sharpie print "Assaulted MHS Staff". I wolfed down the boiled egg, half cup of cereal, tiny orange, and half-pint of milk so quickly that the guy next to me said "Damn these cops ain't been feeding you man, you must have fucked up real bad." and gave me half of his orange. At the time it was the greatest kindness I had ever experienced and I cried thanking him. He said I must not have ever done time, and told me to keep my head down and eyes shut - and never to even talk to the jailers let alone file a complaint.

I was transported to court and had a hearing, where the public defender didn't ask me anything about the incident and told me to take the deal offered and to sign the paper she had already filled out without explaining any of my legal options. I complained that her behavior was inadequate assistance of counsel, and she said if I didn't sign the paper she would tell the jailers that I was threatening her with the pen. I handed it back to her telling her I wasn't afraid of the guards and that she should remember her oath of ethics.

She told the jailers something that made them put me in a holding cell and not see the judge. I was transported back to County where I was housed in a medical unit. They must have finally found my records, as I was given one of the several prescriptions I was supposed to be on, but at a different dose. I followed the guy who gave me a bite of orange's advice, and experienced no more violence against my person. I did however witness many acts of violence from deputies against inmates and even more acts of inmate-on-inmate violence the deputies staged and arranged. I am more than willing to tell more about these incidents if anyone is interested, but suffice to say for now they were worse than I experienced.

I left in the beginning of July 2010 with a completely changed perspective on life, and a new appreciation for freedom. Even being homeless and starving somehow wasn't nearly as bad as it was previously. I'm not even mad about it anymore, and even though I basically endured torture I never would be a party to a lawsuit or hope my story is seen as an exaggeration for personal gain. No amount of money would make that experience worthwhile, or bring the individuals responsible to justice. Litigation engenders the very problems it is intended to prevent, because both parties have to go to such ridiculous extremes to limit or profit from liability that the truth was gone from the process before it started. Tragedies such as this wouldn't be daily and commonplace if litigation wasn't the largest factor driving the decisions of every entity of business or government, and limiting liability took the place of doing what's right so long ago the difference is entirely lost on our society.

I want to be part of the solution instead of allowing the problem to persist. Henry David Thoreau said nearly two hundred years ago "The lawyers truth is not truth, but truth of a convenient expediency." and what was true then is now more apparent than ever. Carl Jung said "What you resist persist." implying that trying to prevent something really makes it more likely to happen. Instead of massive lawsuits, we need people to work towards what is right by simply changing the behavior without the external motivator being money. This is just one of the many injustices I have suffered, and believe it or not - one of the less severe ones.

I hope this story fills you with shock and rage, but more importantly a desire to be the change you wish to see in the world. It is so easy to assign fault and blame, but much more productive to work towards positively improving the world with means at hand. It means more to do what you can than focus on what should be and effectively do nothing.
+Gabriel T what about ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism’s (Working Group) including the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand; and globally the OHCHR or even the +UN DOCO. We must not tire of doing the right thing even if change seems small if we don't reinforce the good guys and campaign to make things happen, who will?
+Phill Hocking reformation should be a key task of the Criminal Justice and I think Incarceration for the sake of appearance as "tough on crime" instead it institutionalise brutalises people in a University of crime.

The Inhumane conditions you describe are shocking and would strike me as a violation of the UDHR. Although I understand complaining inside marks you as a target. Violent people who look for an excuse to inflict cruel and unusual punishment are by their nature not secure in themselves unless it makes someone else smaller.

"All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing." I agree with the cause to be passionately the change one wishes to see in the world. +Phill Hocking you are in my opinion showing the right positive mental attitude, don't let them get you down, move on and make it better for the ones you meet.
+Gabriel T for the record I am a pragmatist that uses ideals to aim for but I start with trying to make things less bad for those around me.
Nothing gets me down except for the fact that people who are concerned with issues of principle oftentimes are not subject to the realities of it. I have been living my principles in face of adversity and do not mind that sacrifice - just find myself fairly alone in doing so.
Having been a street homeless shelter manager, worked in mental health and as a Citizens Advice Bureau manager I have some understanding of the realities, when I have visited prisons and worked with both offenders and x-offenders I see what good can be done if people are inspired to change and given the support to cope with the problems that they previously were struggling with.
Things may be different in the UK compared to here, but maybe you should read up on my story to find that causation does not belie correlation. The only legal trouble I have been in is a result of police misconduct, and my most recent homelessness a result of wrongful termination. I have more than my fair share of "issues" but presently I'm only lacking opportunity from having no means.
+Phill Hocking you are correct Correlation equal causation but so often spurious logic is used to defend knee jerk reactions.
The jump is similar when a problem is identified in politics: Here is a Problem + Here is a Solution = Being seen to do something that looks right.
Choosing a better solution at the risk popularity and resisting pressure groups is the better way but this takes character and political capital...

May I recommend the Howard League of Penal Reform website as a resource if you are not already aware of there work.

"The degree of civilisation in a society can be judged by entering its prisons" Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)
And as you can see by Ron Paul's campaign the man is chalk full of character, expending a substantial amount of political capital, and ultimately will never have the support of his contemporaries - because doing what is right is too scary to those worried about looking right.
Dostoevsky of course would know and I'm sure my visit to LA County is somewhere between a day spa and church retreat by comparison. Howard League, ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and all of their contemporaries I'm sure do fine work - but if you really think about it shouldn't need to exist.
When living in a society which is dominated by Utilitarian thinking, the only defence we have is the Declaration of Human Rights. Minorities are increasingly under threat under the current regime (in the UK), which sees the poor as being universally undeserving and a vast majority of the ‘poor’ are from minority groups. Only the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ECHR stand in opposition to an increasingly hostile and right wing establishment. We know it works, because they seek to first undermine it by declaring it unfit, then attempt to repeal it. This is not an indicator that there is a problem with the Acts and Declaration, but an indicator that those who seek to oppose it, are the new faces of fascism in the west. For those on the left, or of Kantian persuasion these declarations are the single most important aspects of the fall of Fascism in Europe. Any attempt to undermine or water them down, is not only an attack on our liberty and our freedom, but is an attack on the European Peace that has created a pool of relative tranquillity in the History of a much troubled continent.
Lol, I can't keep from being thoroughly amused at the "poor minorities" under attack from the right wing or that the declarations are of a Kantian nature that only liberals support. The fact is quite simply that people regardless of political leanings cannot be bothered with the real problems poverty creates.

Entitlement and charity only inadequately treat the symptoms of a much more sinister and deadly disease: apathy.

+Oliver Sawtell I can tell that at some level you really think you are concerned about the undeserving, but when was the last time you did something to directly make their life better? Not donate to charity, or volunteer at a soup kitchen, but treat them like a human by giving them an hour or two of your time to learn their story?

This isn't an indictment of you, I'm sure you are more civilly aware than most - but the abstract way you are speaking about them is the real problem they face.
+Oliver Sawtell I think striking the right balance is important. I will put a few words of defence of a moderated form of Utilitarianism. I would advocate that the position of minimising disutility is one I find to be a valid consideration but not at the expense of Human Rights rather it is a useful indicator if where to target social policy and resources to enable people to be free to pursue their lives. I am not defending the classical maximising Utility position, even with the most qualitative elements given to overcome the pig in muck argument. I think moving people out of a position of suffering disutility and then allow them to find their own utility will boost the social and economic capital.

I also like Kant and I am comfortable with uncertainty and working out an ethical moral position.

I find myself in support of my government a position I have never been in my life before, the joys of coalition government, is I can help by actively campaigning to counter weight the Tory extremism. It is because they are under threat that I am marshalled to defend the underlying principles of #civilrights .
What is truly Kantian and will bring about the Kingdom of Ends eventually is simple - follow the three maxims. A universal law for all mankind means all mankind, not liberals/conservative poor/privileged majority/minority Christian/Muslim.
Human right on future
Human right to be honest
Are both extreme violated
+Phill Hocking I am not concerned about undeserving anyone, because I do not believe anyone is undeserving - I believe we are all deserving. As a Buddhist I look at everyone with compassion (even those that hate). As a 'left wing liberal' speaking in abstracts is often the only way to convey a message in a dispassionate way. I won't offer anecdotal evidence of my own experiences because they are only one perspective and therefore are not valid. However as a student of Philosophy and of History I am struck by how easily the 'anglo-saxon' culture has become seduced my consumerism, greed and social injustice. We are little better off today, than our ancestors were under the Feudal system. We just kid ourselves that this isn't true. Conversely, when you look at cultures such as in Scandinavia and Germany (post war), you find a liberal application of Kantianism, and as a result a happier, better educated, wealthier across social groups and healthier people as a whole. In contrast the 'Utility Obsessed States' (the UK and US) are the polar opposite, where you have huge social injustice, high crime and lower literacy. The 'Right' pins that on immigration and the minorities as well as a social underclass - but these people are being used as scapegoats in the same way the Jewish people were throughout Europe pre-1945. If we are to ensure that the right's march is curtailed I re-iterate we must not let them cross the Rubicon of the Human Rights Act.
+Gabriel T I think soft power can build momentum and be effective, it worked for Ghandi when he had no hard power. The threat of economic intervention (mainly sanctions), military action and diplomatic (international travel bans, seizing personal off shore wealth etc) of hard power, is this what you perceive as teeth? Would the Hauge, +NATO, China, US, the Media, the 100 top Industrialists, the top 100 academics, the top (sic) 100 terrorists, the Security Council and Singapore have teeth?

Which organisations do you view as having teeth?
+Gabriel T I think we can perhaps agree that the Occupy movement has neither teeth nor specific policy proposals to revamp existing structures. On the other hand, I think that they have noticeably and quite significantly changed the debate. The idea of an elite 1% now has serious traction. In changing how economics is viewed, I believe they have created space for the rest of to step forward with the needed structures and policies needed for change to arise.
Perhaps its time to redefine what we know as "organizations with teeth". It seems that unofficial, online communities organized for specific political purposes have had quite a lot of teeth lately in North Africa, the Middle East and even here in the USA (regarding SOPA/PIPA). Perhaps social media platforms are the new ABC Cafe? (Hopefully minus the tragic end to human rights activists :p )
+Sabrina Rakkasah reminds me of the quote by Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
I think it does matter, but only in context. Take note of the following:
1. life, liberty, and property (Locke)
2. life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (US Constitution)
3. life, liberty, and the security of person (UN Declaration of Human Rights)
+Terry Floyd how is this relevant? your post is looking like spam and I am not going to click on links to check when they appear to irrelevant
+Michael Beckett +Terry Floyd Human rights in USA+EU worsen very much mainly caused by the debt disaster caused by expensive fossil energy imports.

Many countries have the problem that trade deficit > oil imports.

The solution for this problem is to built up the industry for proven solutions, photovoltaic wind energy, electric mobility.

But some think, it's enough time to develop a new reactor concept and wait until mass production.
My position is of a peakist view with regards to energy consumption and oil supply. I reject cornucopian and doomer as to extremes of the bell curve and that with cooperation we may yet reach a managed consensus...

I support diversification including microgeneration and investment in renewables like geothermic, tidal, wind, solar. While cold fission would be nice and nuclear may become better, I remain skeptical of nuclear.

+Roland Mösl while I agree economics affects the backdrop of how we treat each other, it remains our choice and it seems that politeness, decency, respect, ethics and dignity should be advocated and reinforced as group norms for human interaction. While I agree abundant energy would be nice it is not enough of itself and should not be sought at the expense of human freedom...
Solar might be appropriate as the answer for places near the equator and the tropics but in Northern Europe where I live it is not! As sun is so often missing "Opp Norf!" It might be part of the solution with other combined elements true enough...
+Michael Beckett 50 degree North is sure not near equator, but also here is photovoltaic far cheaper than oil and a great solution.

Southern Germany is at 1000 kWh per kW peak installed.
England is at 800 kWh not so far behind.

Look at the "Land for Energy" concept.

Each house would deliver in England about 18.000 kWh per year.
I do not disagree that Solar has a place.
However sunlight levels can be so low for days on end it would be foolish to too heavily invest and rely on Solar alone just as it would be for wind. In other places without such a dynamic and changeable weather system as Northern England Solar energy is more universal and consistent. Tidal energy in Bristol Estuary and the Thames barrier and Geothermic need to be part of the solution too. As well as biodynamic use of renewable fuels from agriculture or increasingly hydroponics. I favour new housing with geothermic, a wind turbine, solar panels and micro-biomass processing as a composite answer.
Safer,cleaner nuclear alternative tops the agenda for new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Thorium Energy World’s first coalition of cross-party legislators formed to examine thorium-fuelled nuclear power Westminster, London - 01 March 2012 –The Weinberg Foundation, a not-for-profit advocacy group for thorium energy,announces the formation of a new All-Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Thorium Energy, which held a lively inaugural meeting in parliament yesterday. Attracting cross-party support from MPs and Peers, the forum will generate critical debate on the potential of thorium as a viable new energy source and examine reactor technology and new fuel designs in planning for the adoption of a viable cleaner, safer and abundant global energy solution. As 10,000 times the energy density of coal¹, thorium is a convincing nuclear fuel option to tackle fossil-fuel reliance.
Well it does appears a thread on Human rights is now about future energy solutions... ::bemused shrug::

The Right to have a sustainable quality of life with nourishment is only possible with a Green Clean source of energy.
+Terry Floyd In 20 years will be photovoltaic so established that it will be very difficult for a new energy source to enter the market.

Thorium maybe for space ships, but no place on Earth
Stay Tuned, Maybe Maybe not.

Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor{LFTR}s are necessary to eliminate the tons of nuclear waste piling up around the world. When and if solar can ever accomplish load bearing
proformance? The problem with solar and wind is it will take fossil fuels and nuclear to produce those solar cells and wind mills.
Since you are able to see into the future, when will a solar plant be powered solely by solar????
The Earth Mother is sending a BIG Message. REE(Rare Earth Elements) so necessary for all those wonderful Earth Friendly Technologies: wind mills, electric cars, high tech gizmos, etc. are buried in mounds of Thorium! Thorium the fuel used in Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR).

No Dates???? Real Big CARBON FOOT PRINT
of course it matters, +Michael Beckett. as it reflects aspiration it will never be perfect: rather, it will evolve through time, in reaction to the prevailing & emerging global social consensus (which, de facto, will be skewed towards the concerns of the most powerful / influential nations). none of this makes it less necessary
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