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59th Anniversary: UDHR

December 10, 2007

With the growth of this weblog I have developed an affinity for odd anniversaries. Of course that affinity doesn’t apply only to my strange or shallow cultural interests. It sometimes works alongside my deepest attempts to understand you—yes, you!—and others.

With that I bring you this: On this day in 1948 the United Nations adopted, as an “advisory declaration,” the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The voting statistics looked like this: 48 in favour, 0 against, with 8 abstentions (all Soviet Bloc states, South Africa and Saudi Arabia).” Known officially as A/RES/217, or 217A (III), it is often abbreviated simply UDHR.

One is more or less aware of certain rights on any given today. In reading through the UDHR, Articles 22 and 23 stood out this morning:

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Article 22.

Everyone, 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.

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

(3) Everyone 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.

(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

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Question: Am I, or are you, a liberal or conservative if we subscribe to these tenets, in concert with the other 28 Articles?

I hope not.

If you still think my noting the 59th anniversary is a bit odd, preparations have begun for a “normal” celebration next year on the 60th anniversary.

UDHR Trivia (via Wikipedia): The Guinness Book of Records describes the UDHR as the “Most Translated Document” in the world. – TL

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PS – Did you notice how, as an historian, I constructed an entire commentary on the UDHR without mentioning Eleanor Roosevelt? Don’t worry, she seems fine to me. I was simply trying to not be cliche. – TL

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