The notion of equality is key to the entire Declaration

Equality is about ensuring that everybody has equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents. It ensures that we are not treated differently or less favourably on the basis of some of our specific characteristics or identity. The UDHR recognises that “equal and inalienable rights” of “all members of the human family” is the “foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” (Preamble).

Right to equality (Art. 1): Without equality there cannot be justice. If people are viewed as “less than” others it opens doors to further discrimination, and communities without equality are more likely to suffer additional human rights violations.

Freedom from discrimination (Art. 2): Regardless of race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or belief, ethnicity, disability, age, political opinion, nationality, language or any other status, we deserve to be treated equally. Freedom from discrimination is important in every community because it shapes the relationships that exist between individuals and power holders.

Right to equality before the law (Art. 7): The law is the same for everyone. It must treat us all fairly. Every human being is different, but we are all equal before the law.

Right to seek asylum (Art. 14): If we are being persecuted in our community or country for who we are, we all have the right to go to another country and ask for protection as a refugee.

Right to marriage and family (Art. 16): Every grown up has the right to marry and have a family if they want to. Nobody should be forced to marry.

Right to adequate living standard (Art. 25): We all have the right to an adequate standard of living, including food, clothing, housing, and healthcare. Mothers and children, people without work, old people and persons living with disabilities all have the right to receive special care.

Right to education (Art. 26): We all have the right to an education, and to primary school, which should be free. At school, we should be able to develop all our talents and learn to respect others, whatever their race, religion or nationality.

Right to participate in cultural life of the community (Art. 27): We have the right to participate in the traditions and learnings of our community, to enjoy the arts and to benefit from scientific progress.

Responsibilities to the community (Art. 29): We have a duty to other people, and we should protect their rights and freedoms in our communities and beyond.

Discussion

“All human beings are different but we are all equal.” Do you see a contradiction in this statement? Why or why not? Comment on the responses of other learners that resonate with you the most.

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This article is from the free online course:

Defending Dignity: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Amnesty International