UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

On December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Here is a simplified summary.

Article 1 All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They should act with respect towards each other.

Article 2 Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind because of their race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Article 3 Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4 No-one shall be held in slavery. All slavery must be stopped.

Article 5 No one shall be tortured or suffer cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6 Everyone has a right to recognition as a person before the law.

Article 7 Each person is equal before the law and is entitled, without discrimination, to equal protection by the law.

Article 8 Everyone has the right to expect justice if their fundamental rights, granted by the constitution or law, are not respected.

Article 9 No one shall be arrested or detained without good reason.

Article 10 Everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial court when their rights and obligations are being decided or when they are accused of committing a crime.

Article 11 Everyone charged with a crime has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty in a fair and public trial where they are allowed to mount a proper defence. No one can be tried for doing something which was not a criminal offence in law at the time it was committed.

Article 12 Each person’s privacy, family, and correspondence shall be protected from interference without good reason. Each person shall also be protected from attacks on their honour or reputation.

Article 13 Everyone has the right to freedom of movement within their own country and to travel freely from and to their own country.

Article 14 Everyone facing persecution has the right to asylum in other countries.

Article 15 Everyone has the right to a nationality. Thy also have the right to change their nationality. No one’s nationality can be taken away from them without good reason.

Article 16 Men and women have the right to marry and have a family, regardless of their race, nationality or religion. Both partners have equal rights in the marriage and their free and full agreement is needed for the marriage to take place. The family is entitled to protection by the state.

Article 17 Everyone has the right to own property, alone or with other people. No one’s property can be taken away from them without good reason.

Article 18 Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the freedom to change their religion or belief and to practise and teach their religion or belief.

Article 19 Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the right to find and share information and ideas.

Article 20 Everyone has the right to meet together with other people, to organise peaceful demonstrations and to form groups. No one may be forced to join any group against their will.

Article 21

  • Everyone has the right to take part in the government of their country, either directly or by choosing others to represent them.
  • Everyone has an equal right to join the public service.
  • The government of a country is based on the will of the people. This means there should be regular and genuine elections in which everyone can vote and in which everyone’s vote is secret.

Article 22 Everyone has the right to social security and to the economic, social and cultural rights that are necessary for dignity and development as individuals.

Article 23 Everyone has the right to work and to choose their job. Everyone has the right to be paid enough for a decent standard of living and to receive equal pay for equal work without any discrimination. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions to protect their interests.

Article 24 Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including the right to work reasonable hours and to holidays with pay.

Article 25 Everyone has the right to a standard of living which is adequate for the health and well-being of themselves and their family. This includes adequate food, clothes, housing, medical care and social services. Everyone has the right to security if they are unable to work because they are unemployed, sick, disabled, widowed, elderly or otherwise unable to support themselves. Mothers and children are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether or not their parents are married, have the same right to social protection.

Article 26 Everyone has the right to education which is free and compulsory during the early stages and which promotes understanding and respect for human rights. Education at a higher level should be equally available to everyone on the basis of merit. Parents have a right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27 Everyone has the right to participate freely in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts (such as music, plays, exhibitions, poetry) and to share in the benefits that scientific discovery may bring.

Article 28 Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms of this Declaration are fully realised.

Article 29 Everyone has duties to the community and will only develop fully as an individual by meeting those duties. Everyone’s rights and freedoms can only be limited as set down by the law, either in order to protect other people’s rights and freedoms, or for reasons of morality, public order or the welfare of society as a whole.

Article 30 Nothing in this Declaration gives anyone the right to destroy the rights and freedoms of others.