The UN Declaration of Human Rights is an extension of the rights espoused in the United States Constitution and it’s Amendments, the first 10 which are known as the US Bill of Rights. These rights are historically known as Citizen Rights under under Customary Law. Customary Law is also more widely known as Common Law.
It is important to know the history of Common Law, more appropriately called Customary Law and how different laws and legislation supersede one another as there are a hierarchy of laws and legislation. In the USA, the Declaration of Independence is the top most document as this documents gives a general overview of the understanding that led to the formation of the United States. This document is followed by the US Constitution which grants Citizen Rights to legal citizens of the United States. The Citizen Rights outlined in the US Constitution include all of it’s amendments, the first 10 of which are known as the Bill of Rights. These Citizen Rights apply inside the USA, a USA Citizen does not have the same rights outside the USA as they do while on domestic soil. Outside the USA, Citizens visiting foreign countries must abide by treaties and conventions as visitors to other nations and follow their local laws and legislations.
The United Nations has outlined a set of Citizen Rights that pertain to the Citizen’s of every nation that is a member of the United Nations. The United States is a founding member of the United Nations and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council which is tasked with ensuring global stability so that humans that are Citizens of one of the member nations can develop mentally, physically and emotionally in a consistent manner throughout the globe. These human development goals ensure that developed nations have compatible biology with lots of genetic diversity and that the populations are literate in all areas of the laws affecting their development and day to day living circumstances. Basic foundations of knowledge in the areas of health, law, economics, business and war allows a large portion of the population to be independent, self-sufficient and have a well defined code of conduct for appropriate behaviour in a developed society. These standards for code of conduct don’t always say that violence is a bad thing, only that it should be reduced and minimized when possible and they don’t define an ultimate authority for areas with no existing legislation. Human Rights are set forth with the understanding that most people questioning their human rights are adults and have the mental capacity and self control to understand the rights and act accordingly.
Human Rights originated with royalty and emperors who often felt that the level of autonomy that they had should be allowed with the masses since they often did not want to micro manage people’s lives. They just needed certain goals accomplished such as growing enough food for their entire kingdom and weren’t often too concerned with the day to day lives of people living in their kingdom. When interacting with the people in their kingdom however, they often noticed what are now known as human rights abuses such as land lords starving farm workers or tax collectors robbing businesses of all their resources and keeping the proceeds for themselves without turning in the taxes to the central treasury. They also witnessed beatings and deprivation of things they considered essential for living a happy and fulfilled life.
The Edict of Caracalla in 212 A.D. declared all free men within the Roman Empire Roman Citizens and gave women the same rights as men. Knowing this, it is rather embarrassing that in the United States, women were still fighting for equality in the 1960’s and nearly 100 years after women were granted the right to vote through the 19th amendment in 1920, that they are still fighting for equal pay. It is also embarrassing that the United States was burning women for being able to read and do math around during the 1690s because although it was 300 years ago, it was almost 1400 years after the Roman Empire granted women equal rights with men.
These abuses whether because of gender, skin color or national origin are known as human rights abuses and deserve that the perpetrators receive swift and severe punishment. The opposite of these abuses are known as human rights and they include freedom of speech, freedom of movement, the right to travel, the right to work, the right to privacy, the right to solitude, the right to family life, the right to own property and the right to defend your economic opportunities and property.
In Rome, between 527 and 565, Emperor Justinian compiled the Corpus Iuris Civilis which was a collection of Roman Law that focused on equality as a central tenet. The Corpus Iuris Civilis was written in honor of Emperors Caracalla, Cicero, Seneca and Epictetus who all believed that the masses should enjoy the same level of comfort, independence, safety and security that they had growing up as children as long as it was within their means physically and intellectually to obtain it.
These historical instances have a greater importance in modern times than the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. which was called and headed by Emperor Constantine to resolve an issue about the Divinity of Christ. While the Council of Nicaea is often touted as a historical meeting giving people divine right, it is not as important as the Edict of Caracalla or the Corpus Iuris Civilis as it pertains to human rights, especially in nation where freedom of religion is a citizen right. It does give some credence to Christians using the Bible as their legislative book but it does not absolve them of having to remain compliant with human rights legislation that is not centered around religion.
From here, you can fast forward several thousand years to the Magna Carta Liberatum of 1215 which translates as the Great Charter of Liberties and was an agreement between King John of England and Citizens of London, it was rewritten and renegotiated in 1216, 1217 and 1225 with the Magna Carta of 1225 having received the seal of King Henry the III. In 1297 the Magna Carta had new rules added as a separate document which were later revoked and King Edward I officially reissued the Magna Carta of 1225 and made it into a statute. While many portions of the Magna Carta have been repealed, it remains as a statute in England as of 2019.
The English Bill of Rights of 1689, along with the Magna Carta, was one of the inspirational documents for the founders of the United States. In it you will find the concept of the right to bear arms, freedom of speech, and an electoral parliament which is called Congress in the United States. You can find a history of 800 years of human rights in the United Kingdom here. The United Kingdom then known as Britain did draw many of its laws and customs from the Roman Empire and that is evident in both its architecture and it’s laws.
The Magna Carta and English Bill of Rights were some of the inspirational documents for the US Declaration of Independence which states “all men are created equal” and the US Constitution with the US Bill of Rights and its subsequent amendments. After World War II, the United Nations were formed which set the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France and China as permanent members of the UN Security Council. All of the preceding documents where inspiration for the UN Declaration of Human Rights which was signed in Paris on December 10th, 1948 as General Assembly Resolution 217 A.
It is important to know the history of how human rights came about and how a police state diminishes your human rights in most cases since the police do not have an intrinsic value in guarding your human rights. While it is important to be respectful and trustworthy towards police, it is equally important that they are held accountable in respecting the human rights of the population and the UN Development goals which call for independence, self governance and personal responsibility.
In addition to the above history and documents of human rights, it is important to understand UCC as a small business and maritime or admiralty law which has been codified by the UN as the Convention on Laws of the Sea by the UN in 1982. These conventions are referred to as UNCLOS by most people.
The history of human rights is important as a Citizen of a democratic nation because it allows you to vote for legislation that is human rights compliant and bring up issues regarding draft legislation that would result in gross human rights abuses. In the USA, Citizens can point to the Declaration of Independence and USA Constitution and can go back as far as they need to with the above listed documents to show precedent for human rights. In the United Kingdom, UK Citizens can point to the Magna Carta of 1225 which was ratified in 1297 into statute and the Human Bill of Rights of 1689. In all UN nations, the UN Declaration of Human Rights can be used to compare to the countries legislation. In the USA that is the US Code and is publicly available and published in many different places including
It can also be found ad free on Justia, FindLaw and the Law Librarians Society. Additionally it can be found on the website of Cornell University with ads, which many people find tacky but they were the first ones on the internet who published it online and advocated for free and openly available information of public documents without a law degree so they deserve a mention. Their new ad platform might help you find an attorney if you are in need of one and its a little nicer then their original ad platform but the internet generally discourages ads as it distracts from the primary information. They get a pass for now although we hope they will get funding in the future to get rid of the ads again.
Mapping the UN Declaration of Human Rights to the US Constitution
This is an overview of how the amendments map out to the UN Declaration of Human Rights. These rights have been part of human society for over 1800 years. This is what should be taught in High School for World Government courses and it would not be a bad idea to have high school students go through the US Codes and find legislation that is in violation of human rights.