Human Rights Youth Perspective – Jean

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted on December 10, 1948.   Senator Emile Saint-Lot from Haiti was a co-signatory, along with U.S.  First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and many other countries.  To read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in English) (French) (in Kreyol).  Following is perspective from a youth leader in Haiti.

by Jean, 12/7/13

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights plays an important role in the functioning of the world. The conditions of its preparation already show the importance it requires. In fact, it was written after the First World War in December 10, 1948 in Paris by the United Nations. With its 30 articles, the declaration aims to prevent the world from falling into the atrocity of two world wars known in the space of half a century, and in particular it aims to prevent the renewal of fate that the Nazis reserved to their prisoners in their concentration camps. Inspired by the Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen, drafted by France in 1789, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights represents a giant leap for mankind. It proclaims to all nations the fundamental rights of human. When voting in 1948, although among the 58 members of the United Nations, none voted against, there were eight abstentions including South Africa, where there was the apartheid, and Saudi Arabia, which still don’t recognizes equality of men and women before the law. This already shows that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not universally perceived as a principle to be respected unconditionally.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has no real legal significance because it is not considering any penalty if at least one of its articles is not respected. However, it plays an important role in today’s world. It greatly facilitated the process of decolonization around the world during the period 1948-1975. Several countries follow it to develop their laws and the articles of the Universal Declaration are widely used in the courts to judge certain facts which violate fundamental rights. This is particularly the case in international institutions to judge certain acts defined as crimes against humanity. We also note different adaptations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the European Convention on Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights . The Universal Declaration has a great impact in the world , it is used most often as a legal recommendation that different nations refer to respect human dignity through their laws.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is translated into several languages and it is necessary that it be translated into all languages so that it be recognized by all nations. It ensures a better future for humanity. It would be contradictory to impose it by force as some people are willing to do in the Middle East , but it would be better for everyone that we ensure that all nations observe the Universal Declaration as a compass in their policy choices . We also note that each nation has its own conception of fundamental rights because of their cultural differences. For example, in Islamic countries , Islam is seen as the natural religion of man. We must work to reduce these small differences. We have to be just tolerant and open to others, because, through dialogue, we can solve these relativistic perceptions. We also note that in attempts to uphold the Universal Declaration in some states , the considerations depend on whether the state is strong or weak, this should not be the case. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be respected by the various states , without distinction , it is the foundation of the Universal Declaration. It must cease to be something more or less theoretical , which is not in practice.

In Haiti , there is still much work to be done to enforce the law because the level of corruption is so high that many Haitians are placed impunity above the law. In fact, we are far from a state of law where fundamental rights of every individual would be guaranteed by the law. Social inequalities are obvious and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains purely theoretical , despite the efforts of some organizations. Access to education is difficult , many people are exploited and they know all forms of discrimination. Women are beaten and too poor or orphaned children are facing some sort of modern slavery called in creole “restavek” , most people are unable to meet all their needs and do not have access to water drinking , etc. . It is important to economically improve the country and to establish an effective government while respecting the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in our laws and in our institutions. The support of the international community is always welcome insofar as the country’s interests are placed first . The country would be guided in the right direction until it be able to take charge. The respect of the Universal Declaration in Haiti would greatly improve the standard of living of the population. The Haitian would fell better in his country and it would be no longer necessary for him to pursue a wellness elsewhere. However, Haitians have to think and to build their country without abandoning their own cultural values and despite the difficult times that we know, in the dark, the consciences are gradually awakening !


Jean lives in Haiti and has been an active member of THE SPARK of Le Flambeau.