How To Support MORE Universal Human Rights

Yes, it has been a long time, and no, I didn’t finish the series. So I’m going to work through more of these, as I have time and energy. These will be in the same format: First, quoted from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and then re-stated in plain English. Here we go! (Part 1 is here)

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Human Rights

Universal Declaration of Human Rights 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 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.”

Everyone”… “has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty”.

Countries must have legal systems that allow a person to defend themselves from charges. Until those public trials happen, the person accused of the law must be treated as though they’re innocent. If a law didn’t exist when a person did something, you can’t then create a law and charge them after the fact. You can’t punish a person for breaking a law more severely than the law allowed when the person broke the law.

How well do most countries uphold this right? Does charging bail violate this right, or perhaps sometimes violate this right? Why or why not? What difficulties could you foresee trying to get your country to support this right?

Article 12 (Privacy)

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.

You have a right to private space and interactions with others within your family, home, and correspondence (mail, email, etc) with others. Also, the law must protect you against attacks on your honor and reputation.

Do you see violations of this right to privacy in your country? How could this be improved? Do you see how this right sets limits on the idea of “free speech” and why that might be important? When there is a conflict between free speech and the right to not be slandered or libeled, which should be the top priority? Why?

Article 13 (migration)

  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.

People can travel and relocate freely within their country or locality (that’s what “state” means here). Also, all people are allowed to leave any country and return to their own countries.

How many countries violate this right? How do you think climate change might impact this right? Why would a country want to prevent its citizens from leaving or returning? Why would a government try to stop people from moving to and from different places within a country?

UDHR Article 14 (refugee and asylum rights)

  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.

People can seek and countries have an obligation to provide refuge from persecution. This right does not extend to people running from non-political crimes or from acts that threaten the peace the UN was created to ensure.

Notice that this right is limited by the interests of the larger community. How many of the other rights on this list might be limited in this way? What reasons might be serious enough that someone would have to flee their home country and ask another country to take them in? Can you imagine being in that situation? Where would you go if it came to that?

Article 15 (nationality)

  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.

Everyone has the right to a home country whose laws protect them, and to change their nationality to one that better suits them.

Do you see the distinction between being allowed to live somewhere and being a part of a country? That’s what this is talking about. Are there people within your country who are being denied this right? What do you think the international community or your country should do to help people who no longer have a nationality (stateless people)?

(Trying to Keep Articles Shorter, So…) How To Advocate

Except for the last suggestion, these are copied from the first article, here:

After each article and its restatement, I wrote several open-ended questions for you to think about. These questions invite you to think critically about what your country says it does compared to what it actually does. Then I asked you to think about how you can make a difference. Now I’m going to give you some ideas of specific things you can do.


First, if you live in a country with free and fair elections, vote. Every time. Spend some time in the months before an election learning about the candidates. If you’re unsure, ask questions.

Use Social Media.

Pick a topic or topics that is/are important to you and speak out about them. Learn about those topics and then educate others. Call in or call out people who are violating human rights. Build a following and have each of those people expand their influence. Build some of those contacts into political influence or power.

Run for Office.

If you are eligible and able to, run for local office. National politicians often start locally. Sometimes a local politician becomes powerful at making regional changes. Then, once you’re in office, you can band together with others to increase your power to change things.


Join a local protest group and march and protest with them. Take any classes they offer on effective protest. You can even learn how to lead protests and start planning them yourselves.

Donate to Causes.

It costs a lot of money to run for office and it costs money to run effecive protests. Whenever you can, throw a bit of money in the pot for a favorite person or cause. Every now and then, try to get friends and family to join you. You might even set up an automatic monthly debit.

Provide Material Support.

Cook meals for protesters. Paint signs. Or collect signatures. Make phone calls. Maybe even lick stamps. Perhaps file paperwork. In essence, do the unglamorous everyday jobs that keep an organization running.

Speak Up.

You can advocate anywhere, any time, with anyone. As an example, have a conversation with a beloved family member about why prison reform is important. Or you could bring up

Think Critically.

It’s very easy to get caught up in a cause and the bubble of people who support it. Sometimes that leads to being blind to problems your cause is making worse. Sometimes you need to stop and gather perspectives from others. Ultimately, your goal is to make sure your cause doesn’t interfere with another set of human rights.

Build Communities

Many human rights violations occur because humans are social animals and we are starved for human interactions. Look into organizing or joining mutual aid society (some in the US are listed here) or simply getting to know your neighbors (virtual and in person). Assist with community projects, and enjoy community support.

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