Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

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Since 1945, the scope of human rights has been elaborated and the concept now permeates the fabric of international society. Now a day it is bandwagon in all over the world. Human rights are basic rights and freedoms that belong all of us from birth until death. However, due to having divergent views on human rights there is no precise meaning and the meaning of human rights is still controversial. Different people see human rights in different way. Very basic thing is that you have human rights and fundamental freedom because you are human being. If you talk about human rights you must know the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR.
The United Nations came into existence on October 24, 1945. Human rights movement developed in the aftermath of Second World War and the atrocities of the Holocaust culminating the adoption UDHR. In June 1946, the UN Economic and Social Council established the Commission on Human rights and this commission established a special Universal Declaration of Human Rights Drafting Committee. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt is the Chair to write the articles of declaration. The UN had numerous discussions (187 official meeting, 1400 discussions) and consultations that took into consideration political, social, culture and religious backgrounds in order to declare as the universal standard of the international community. During drafting process, more than 1700 times for voting on practically on every word and every clause of the text.
On 10 December, 1948 three year after the forming of United Nations, UDHR was adopted by the United General Assembly in Paris by a vote of 48 in favor, 8 abstentions and 2 failed to vote or abstain. Since Myanmar became the member Stats of UN in 1948 April, Myanmar had a chance to vote and voted in favor for UDHR. This is the milestone and I feel very proud being a Myanmar in this regard.
UDHR is the milestone and important document in the history of human rights and is the world’s first declaration that recognizes that all human being must enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedom whenever they are. It explicitly stipulates individual freedoms and rights. The Declaration consists of thirty articles and it enumerates civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.  If you classified those 30 articles from human rights perspectives, there you can see that article 1 and 2 are the foundation blocks and fundamental of all human being, article 3 to 21 are civil and political rights, article 22 to 27 are economic, social and culture rights and article 28 to 30 are responsibilities of all human being.
Here it is noteworthy that, UDHR set a world record in 2009 for being the most translated document in the world. At present there are 467 different languages available in HTML and/or pdf format according to OHCHR. In this regard Myanmar National Human Commission has translated the text of UDHR from English and Myanmar in 2013 and also from Myanmar to Kachin, Shan and Mon languages in 2015.
Nevertheless UDHR regarded as binding on all member States of the United Nations, it is just declaration and non-binding resolution. UDHR constructed the foundation for international human rights law, and its ideology and content have been incorporated into the constitutions and part of customary laws of many countries.
In comparison with Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (2008), I am proud to say that Constitution (2008) is directly or indirectly related with UDHR. Here are the some examples. Chapter I, Basic Principles of the Union of Constitution (2008) have 48 articles. Among them 10 articles fully or partially reflected with UDHR. Moreover there are 46 articles in Chapter VIII, Citizen, Fundamental Rights and Duties of the Citizens and almost all articles fully or partially reflected with UDHR either. Here are the  some examples, article 4 of UDHR states “ No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms ” while article 358 of Constitution (2008) states “The Union prohibits the enslaving and trafficking in persons”, article 5 of the UDHR states “ No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” while article 44 of  Constitution (2008) states “ No penalty shall be prescribed that violates human dignity” and article 7 of UDHR states “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection” while article 21(d) and 347 of Constitution (2008)  states “ Necessary law shall be enacted to make citizens’ freedom, rights, benefits, responsibilities and restrictions effective, steadfast and complete” and “ The Union shall guarantee any person to enjoy equal rights before the law and shall equally provide legal protection” respectively.
UDHR is worldwide document and it has come to be regarded as the single most important document. Indeed International Bill of Human Rights consists of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the international Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
Since 1950, human rights day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December. The date was chosen to honor the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human rights. Human rights day promote awareness of human rights issues around the world and high light the efforts of the United Nations in improving global human rights conditions for all.
Let me conclude the article by expressing article 29 (b) of the UDHR which states “In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone 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”.  This article shows the responsibility of every human being whenever they are. Bear in mind that two side of the same coin is rights and responsibility.

Dr. Khine Khine Win
Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
Ph.01- 654675

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