Global Perspectives Essays

Submitted By rmayerschoff
Words: 1149
Pages: 5

Global Perspectives: At the close of the Second World War, a community of many nations formed a body to prevent the horrors of that war being repeated. This international body was called the United Nations, and along with its Charter, its member nations sought to protect and insure the rights of persons everywhere, regardless of any distinguishing characteristics such as race, creed, color, nationality, sex, age, etc. The finished product was a document titled “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and it was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10th of 1948. Upon reading this document one is immediate struck by similarities to the Bill of Rights from the United States Constitution. Many of the ideas are clearly analogous, and some feature only minimal changes in language or syntax – i.e., Article 5 and the Eighth Amendment:
Article 5 – No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Eighth Amendment – Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
This may be a result of Eleanor Roosevelt serving as Chairperson of the UDHR drafting committee, although careful process was used to be sure nations from a wide geographic dispersion were involved. In fact, over 50 nations had some input prior to the adoption of the final draft. The thirty Articles which comprise the UDHR provide a broad set of personal liberties and rights that are, by inherent nature, fundamental to all persons everywhere. The Articles cover not only areas such as free expression of ideas and opinions and similar concepts with which we are familiar, they also mandate more esoteric ideas like the right to free education at the primary and secondary levels, the right to work and receive fair compensation, and the right to enjoy leisure and rest from said work. They also detail quite a few rights which are international in character, such as the right to leave and return from ones country, the right to seek asylum in a foreign land, and the right to a national identity. They cover rights of marriage, of participation in government, personal property and privacy, and peaceable assembly. They even spell out that individuals have a duty to their communities in order to be fully engaged and developed. Of course, the utopian ideal of the UDHR is no more practical or attainable than the economic utopia of communism. Both seem eminently practical and obvious on paper, but when faced with the reality of application shortcomings appear. In the 60 odd years since the UDHR was initially adopted there have been numerous well documented examples of policies, behaviors, and actions that are in direct conflict or defiance with one or more of the 30 Articles. No doubt many of these actions were perpetrated by or in nations which either (a) are not UN members or (b) have a long standing history of disregarding international diplomacy. Sadly, a recent human rights violation was committed not by China, or Lebanon, or Iraq, or South Africa, but by the Unites States. The attacks on September 11th, 2001 were no doubt a great tragedy; an act of cowardice by a group of people who seek to destroy our way of life. Many innocent people lost their lives, and many more suffered emotional and collateral damage as a result. However, the greater tragedy is that, in the years following that event, we allowed them to accomplish their purpose. In the name of “fighting a war on terror” the citizens of this country have been repeatedly and systematically stripped of many of the personal liberties we once held as unassailable and above reproach. The Patriot Act, unauthorized wire tapping, and intensive airport screening are just a few examples of personal freedoms that have been revoked since 2001. These already show that the terrorists have succeeded in their objective to destroy our way of life – for if we turn our backs because of fear on the