This Human Rights month we shared one of each of the 30 Human Rights listed in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights for 30 days.
At Justice Desk Africa it's our mission to empower everyday people, within all areas of society, to understand, defend and access their fundamental human rights. We believe that the everyday person understands their community and unique contexts like no other, and therefore are best suited to challenge the injustices that affect them and work towards transforming their communities for the better.
Article 1: Everyone is born free and equal in dignity and with rights.
Every person is unique and has different qualities and abilities. It is important to recognize that, no matter our differences, we all have equal rights; simply because we are human.
This means that all people should have the same status and opportunities and no person is more important than another person.
It is our responsibility to defend the freedoms of all and ensure equality among us.
Article 2: You should never be discriminated against for any reason. Rights belong to all people, whatever our differences.
No one should be treated differently or excluded because of their race, gender, gender-identity, sexuality, religion, language, economic status, place of birth or political opinions.
This means that every person is entitled to equal rights and freedoms, regardless of their appearance, background and opinions.
It is our responsibility to work to prevent and challenge discrimination.
Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security.
Every person has the right to life that is protected by law. No one has the right to end another person’s life.
Murder is strictly prohibited. The government or state does not have the right to take your life. Despite this, the death penalty is still legal in some countries!
It is our responsibility to work to preserve a dignified life.
Article 4: No‐one shall be held in slavery or servitude.
No person should be forced into slavery or the slave trade. Many laws around the world prohibit slavery, yet it still takes place today.
Modern day slavery exists and takes the form of; domestic servitude, sex-trafficking, forced labour, bonded labour, child labour, forced marriage and free labour.
It is our responsibility to raise awareness and end Trafficking in Persons and unjust labour practices.
Article 5: No‐one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
No person should be treated or punished in a cruel, inhumane or degrading way. Torture cannot be used as a method to interrogate or discipline any person, even though they may be incarcerated for criminal or terrorist behaviour.
Despite this right, a number of governments around the world use forms of torture as a method of interrogation and discipline.
It is our responsibility to ensure neither ourselves nor anyone else is abusive towards others.
Article 6: You have the right to be treated as a person in the eyes of the law.
Every person has rights no matter where you are in the world. You cannot lose any of your rights if you travel to other countries around the world. Everyone is protected by the law. Regardless of whether they are a citizen of the country they find themselves in or not.
It is our responsibility to get to know the law - so we can use it to protect ourselves and others.
Article 7: You have the right to be treated by the law in the same way as everyone else.
Every person deserves to be protected by the laws of the country they find themselves in. This protection should be equal for everyone and no one should be discriminated against based on race, gender, country of origin or language.
The law must protect all people including immigrants, prisoners, orphans, the poverty-stricken, and the disabled.
It is our responsibility to teach others about their rights and to treat them in accordance with the law.
Article 8: If your rights under the law are violated, you have the right to seek justice through the legal system.
Every country should have laws in place that protect the Human Rights of its citizens and visitors. If a country does not have these laws in place, international mechanisms, such as The United Nations, will step in to assist and encourage the creation of such laws.
It is our responsibility to learn about how the courts systems work and hold them accountable.
Article 9: No‐one shall be subject to random arrest, detention or exile.
No person should be arrested, imprisoned or exiled without sufficient proof of criminal behavior. In South Africa, this means that people cannot be exiled and/or randomly arrested without some proof that they have committed a crime.
In many countries around the world, people are arrested for speaking up against their government.
It is our responsibility to ensure that no one is detained without reason, trial or evidence.
Article 10: You have the right to a fair and public trial.
When suspected of a crime, every person has the right to a fair trial.
The judge or jury who decides if a person is guilty of the crime, should be impartial towards the suspect and the victim of the crime, in order to assure that the trial is not biased or discriminatory.
It is our responsibility to not take the law into our own hands or unfairly influence the outcome of a trial.
Article 11: Everyone is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a fair trial.
No one should be charged with a criminal offence for an act which wasn’t an offence at the time the act was done.
Every suspected ‘criminal’ should be treated with respect and equality. They should be treated as if they are innocent until they are proven guilty by the justice system.
In many countries, people suspected of crimes are treated unjustly while awaiting their trial.
It is our responsibility to not treat people who have been accused of something, as being guilty, until proven otherwise.
Article 12: No‐one has the right to intrude in your private life or interfere with your home and family without good reason. No‐one has the right to attack your good name without reason.
No person should be subjected to random interference in their home, family, social or personal life.
No persons’ reputation should be publicly attacked or destroyed. A person has the right to keep their financial, relational and health status private from the public.
It is our responsibility to respect the privacy of others, understanding that your right to privacy does not grant you immunity from the law.
Article 13: You have the right to freedom of movement within your country. Everyone has the right to leave a country and to return home.
Every person has the right to choose to leave their birth country and live elsewhere, as well as to return to their country of origin, if they so choose.
No person can be held captive or forced to stay in their country of residence. People may not be forced to leave a country without a valid reason and adequate notice.
It is our responsibility to ensure freedom of movement for all.
Article 14: You have the right to seek and to enjoy protection from persecution in other countries. You may not invoke this right if fleeing just laws in your own country.
Every person has the right to seek safety and residence in another country when they face danger and persecution in their own country.
No one should be refused this help regardless of their race, gender, place of birth, language, religion or political association.
It is our responsibility to make sure our borders are a safe refuge for people seeking asylum.
Article 15: You have the right to a nationality.
Every person has the right to have a nationality and cannot be deprived of their nationality for any reason.
All people should be allowed to change their nationality by correctly following the procedures of that country and should not be denied this chance based on race, economic status or education level.
It is the responsibility of all countries to assign a nationality to a child at birth.
Article 16: You have the right to marry anyone who consents and to raise a family. People have the same rights when they are married and when they are separated.
All people of an adult age (18 and older) have the right to choose who they would like to marry and whether they would or would not like to have children. All families, regardless of composition, should be treated equally and fairly and given the same opportunities.
It is our responsibility to look after our family and to respect the families of others, regardless of how they look.
Article 17: You have the right to own property and possessions, and it cannot randomly be taken away from you.
Every person has the right to own property such as a house, a car and clothes. No persons’ property should be damaged or taken away from them randomly.
During Apartheid, many peoples’ right to property was infringed upon when their property was taken from them and they were forced to leave their homes.
It is our responsibility to look after our property while respecting the property of others.
Article 18: You have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and to peacefully express those beliefs in teaching, practice and worship.
We all have the right to believe in what we want to believe, to have a religion, or to change that religion should we choose to.
No one should be allowed to force a set of beliefs on you, or prevent you from practicing your religious beliefs, unless they are harmful to other people.
It is our responsibility to ensure that all people have the ability and freedom to practice what they believe in, even if their beliefs are different from ours.
Article 19: You have the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
We all have the right to make up our own minds, to think what we like, to express what we think, and to share our ideas with other people.
It is important to emphasize however, that we are free to share these opinions if they do not harm or infringe upon the rights of others. We also have the right to seek out more information, should we choose, to expand on our thinking.
It is our responsibility to ensure that our opinions and actions do not hurt or violate the rights of others.
Article 20: You have the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
We all have the right to meet up with our friends and colleagues in a group. We are also allowed to peacefully work together in order to defend our rights, such as in the case of a peaceful march or demonstration. Nobody can make us join a group if we do not want to, and we are not allowed to force others to join our group.
It is our responsibility to ensure that we are gathering peacefully.
Article 21: You have the right to take part in the government of your country and decide who your leaders are.
All people have the right to be a part of selecting the government of their country. All adults have the right to vote for the leaders that they wish to have in the government of their country. Every citizen should be allowed to vote and no vote should count more or less than any other vote.
It is our responsibility to vote and participate in all things related to ensuring that our democracy thrives and to hold our government accountable.
Article 22: As a member of society, you have a right to social security.
Every person has the right to affordable housing, medical care, schooling, food and water. The government should provide free primary education, housing as well as medical care to impoverished people.
It is our responsibility to ensure that we do not abuse this system, to ensure that it protects the vulnerable among us.
Article 23: You have the right to work, to good working conditions, to equal pay for equal work and to form and join unions.
Every adult has the right to have a job that they have willingly chosen. No adult should be denied a job or paid differently for a job because of their gender, race or religion. Every adult should be paid fairly for their work and should not be subjected to harmful or dangerous working conditions.
It is our responsibility to know our rights and to protect others from possible abuse and exploitation within the workplace.
Article 24: You have the right to rest and leisure.
Every person has the right to have rest from work and to relax. All working people should be given sufficient time off from work each week to rest as well as the opportunity to go on holiday.
Every person has the right to play and take part in leisure activities such as playing sport, reading and dancing.
It is our responsibility to ensure that we rest and look after our physical and mental well being and to ensure those under our care have the same opportunities.
Article 25: You have the right to a decent life, including enough food, water, clothing, housing, medical care and social services.
All people, old and young, abled and disabled, have the right to live in a house that is safe, and to have sufficient food and access to clean water.
No person should have to live in a place that is dangerous, unsanitary or overcrowded.
It is our responsibility to look after our home and to ensure our family and those around us have water, nutritious food to eat and safe places to live.
Article 26: You have the right to an education.
Education is a fundamental Human Right. Every person in this world deserves to be educated. Primary education in government schools should be free of charge and the parents or guardians of a child have the right to decide what school their child can attend.
It is our responsibility to learn and not disrupt the learning of others.
Article 27: No one may stop you from participating in the cultural life of your community.
Every person has the right to have a culture and to participate in cultural rituals and activities.
However, it is important to note that if cultural practices infringe upon or go against the rights of others then that practice needs to be re-evaluated.
Every person can participate in and enjoy cultural arts such as drama, fine art and dancing.
Every person has the right to access information & copyright any creations they make and offer them to the public.
It is our responsibility to practice our culture in a safe and responsible way, and let others do the same, even if it is different from ours.
Article 28: You have the right to live in the kind of world where your rights and freedoms are respected.
There must be proper order in our world so that we can all enjoy our rights and freedoms in our own country and elsewhere. This means that proper governments need to be in place that work to ensure that Human Rights are not only a priority, but also a way of life.
It is our responsibility to ensure we can access our rights wherever we are.
Article 29: We all have a responsibility to the people around us and should protect their rights and freedoms.
We have a duty to other people to respect and protect their rights and freedoms. If you are privileged enough to have your Human Rights taken care of, it is your responsibility to make sure that those less fortunate than yourself can also say that their rights are being catered for.
Expressing your rights goes hand in hand with responsibility. This is a vital aspect of Human Rights.
It is our responsibility to defend our rights and the rights of others.
Article 30: There is nothing in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that justifies any person or country taking away the rights to which we are all entitled.
Nobody can take away these rights and freedoms from us. Not even your government!
By simply being a human being, you are immediately entitled to these rights.
It is our responsibility to make sure we do not disrespect or infringe on the rights of others.