Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1996)

This document has been made available in electronic format
by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
 (Source: Coop Dialogue, Vol.4, No.4, May-Dec.,pp.23-25)

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

"On 10 December, 1948, the General Assembly of the United 
Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of 
Human Rights, the full text of which appears in the following 
pages. Following this historic act, the assembly called upon all 
Member-countries to publicise the text of the declaration and 
to cause to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded 
principally in schools and other educational institutions, without 
distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."

-Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary General

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 disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted 
in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of 
mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings 
shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from 
fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration 
of the common people.
Whereas 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.

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly 
relations between nations.

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the charter 
reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the 
dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights 
of men and women and have determined to promote social 
progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, 
in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of 
universal respect for the observance of human rights and 
fundamental freedoms.

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedom 
is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this 

Now, Therefore, the General Assembly proclaims:

This Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common 
standards of achievement for all peoples and all nations to 
the end that 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 
freedom and by progressive measures, national and international, 
to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, 
both among the peoples of Member states themselves and among
the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1
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.

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

Furthermore, 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 

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

Article 4
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude, slavery and the 
slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or 
degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6
Every one has the right to recognition everywhere as a person 
before the law.

Article 7
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any 
discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled 
to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of 
this Declaration and against any incitement to such 

Article 8
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.

Article 9
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or 

Article 10
Every one is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing 
by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination 
of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against

Article 11

i)	Every one 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.

ii)	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 

Article 12
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his 
privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon 
his honour and reputation. Every one has the right to the 
protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13
i)	Every one has the right to freedom of movement 
and residence within the borders of each State.

ii)	Every one has the right to leave any country, including 
his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14
i)	Every has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries 
asylum from persecution.

ii)	This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions 
genuinely arising from non-political crimes from acts contrary 
to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15
i)	Every one has right to a nationality.

ii)	No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality
nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16
i)	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.

ii)	Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and 
full consent of the intending spouses.

iii)	The family is the natural and fundamental group unit 
of society and is entitled to protection by society and State.

Article 17
i)	Every one has the right to own property alone as well 
as in association with others.

ii)	No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18
Every one 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.

Article 19
Every one 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.

Article 20
i)	Every one has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly 
and association.

ii)	No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21
i)	Every one has the right to take part in the government 
of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives,

ii)	Every one has the right of equal access to public 
service in his country,

iii)	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 

Article 22
Every one, as a member of society, has the right to social security 
and is entitled to realization, through national effort and 
international co-operation, and in accordance with the organization 
and resources of each state, of the economic, social and cultural 
rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of 
his personality.

Article 23
i)	Every one has the right to work, to free choice of 
employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and 
to protection against unemployment.

ii)	Every one without any discrimination has the right 
to equal pay for equal work.

iii)	Every one who works has the right to just and 
favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family 
an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if 
necessary, by other means of social protection.

iv)	Every one has the right to form and to join trade unions 
for the protection of his interests.

Article 24
Every one has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable 
limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25
i)	Every one has the right to standard of living adequate 
for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, 
Including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary 
social services, and the right to security in the event of une
mployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other 
lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

ii)	Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care 
and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, 
shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26
i)	Every one 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.

ii)	Education shall be directed to the full development 
of human personality and to the strengthening of respect for 
human rights and fundamental freedom. 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.

iii)	Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of 
education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27
i)	Every one 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.

ii)	Every one has the right to the protection of the moral 
and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or 
artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28
Every one is entitled to a social and international order in
 which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can 
be fully realized.

Article 29
i)	Every one has duties to the community in which alone 
the free and full development of his personality is possible.

ii)	In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, every one 
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.

iii)	These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised 
contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying 
for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity 
or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights 
and freedoms set forth herein.

(This article has been extracted from the Newspaper, National
Herald, New Delhi, December 14, 1995)

Co-operatives and Human Rights

Co-operative enterprises constitute a micro-societal environment 
in which members are able to enjoy their full human rights: they 
are defined by the ICA itself as associations of persons united 
voluntarily to meet their common economic and social needs 
through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. 
Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, mutual 
responsibility, equality and equity. Within their capacity to 
admit members, co-operatives are open on a voluntary basis, 
without political, religious, gender or social discrimination, to 
all who can contribute to, and benefit from, their activities. In
primary co-operatives members enjoy equal voting rights on 
a one member, one vote basis.

Many co-operative business enterprises, concerned with the 
communities in which they operate and in which their members 
live, take an interest in the quality of society and in the 
enjoyment of human rights by all in those communities. Certain 
co-operative enterprises, notably co-operative banks and savings 
and credit co-operatives, have adopted `ethical stances' and 
business guidelines which stress non-association with individuals 
or businesses engaged even indirectly in the suppression of 
human rights. Housing co-operatives and community development 
co-operatives in particular actively encourage the enjoyment of 
the human rights of members and others in the communities in 
which they exist. Locally, nationally and internationally, often 
in collaboration with other citizen's organizations, co-operative 
movements seek to promote and protect human rights and show 
solidarity for those whose rights are limited or suppressed. 

By these direct means, and also by means of empowering the 
economically disadvantaged, the international co-operative 
movement contributes significantly to the implementation of 
the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action agreed upon 
by the World Conference on Human Rights held at Vienna in 
June, 1993 (Report, A/CONF.157/24). The General Assembly, 
in its resolution 49/208 endorsed the view of the Secretary-General 
in his report on the matter (A/49/668, para. 134) that implementation 
of these instruments required concerted efforts on the part of 
all relevant actors, including non-governmental organizations.  

(From the Notes for Organisers of the First UN-International 
Day for Co-operatives-1995.)