The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was approved, with no negative votes, by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948. Its thirty articles eloquently affirm basic political, economic and social rights of individuals and groups. Though the worldwide guarantee of these rights is far from achievement, this is only added reason to heed these word in the preamble: "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." To facilitate quoting the Declaration, selected passages are given below under alphabetized subject headings. Following each quotation are its article number and, if applicable, its paragraph number within the article. For the complete text see: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.


ASSOCIATION "Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association." (20- 1) "No one may be compelled to belong to an association." (20-2) See also PROPERTY (17-1) and RELIGION.

ASYLUM "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution." (14-1)

COMMUNICATION "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." (19)  "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." (27-1)

EDUCATION "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." (26-1) "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." (26-2)  See also FAMILY (26-3)

ELECTIONS "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." (21-3) "Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives." (21-1)

EMPLOYMENT "Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment." (23-1) "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." (23-3) "Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests." (23-4) "Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay." (24) See also EQUAL RIGHTS (21-2, 23-2) and HEALTH.

EQUAL RIGHTS "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 racial origin, property, birth or other status." (2A) "Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law." (6) "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law." (7A) "Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country." (21-2) "Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work." (23-2) See also OCCUPIED TERRITORIES.

FAMILY "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." (16-1) "The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State." (16-3) "All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection." (25-2B) "Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children." (26-3) See also HEALTH, WOMEN.

HEALTH "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and 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." (25-1)

LIFE AND LIBERTY "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." (3) "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." (29-2)  "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." (8)

MOVEMENT "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile." (9) "Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state." (13-1) "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country." (13-2)

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES "... 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." (28) "Everyone has the right to a nationality." (15-1)

PEACE "... 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." (preamble, paragraph 1)

PRIVACY "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks." (12)

PROPERTY "Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others." (17-1) "No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property." (17-2) "Everyone has the right to protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author." (27-2)

RACISM "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." (1) "All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination." (7B) See also FAMILY (16-1).

REBELLION "... 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." (preamble, paragraph 3).

RELIGION "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." (18) See also FAMILY (26-3).

SLAVERY "No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms." (4)

TORTURE "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." (5)

WOMEN "Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses." (16-2) "Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance." (25-2A) See also EQUAL RIGHTS, FAMILY (16-1) and PROPERTY (17-1).

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The illustration "Human Rights Ascendance" is from Cartoons for the Cause by Walter Crane, published in 1896 with the captions "Liberalism, Toryism, Socialism" on the shields. In the 1980's the drawing (simplified) appeared on the stationery of Folk Trust Publications with the captions "Communism, Capitalism, Human Rights". Later the captions "Rebellion, Authority, Human Rights" were used and appeared on this web page. In 2003 the original drawing with the same captions (redone) was used on the cover of Philosophical Theory and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, edited by William Sweet, University of Ottawa Press. Use or modify the drawing in any way you wish, crediting Walter Crane.