The Declaration - Break the Chain

"Break the Chains!"

"Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law..." - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Preamble.

This recognition enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the right of people to rebel against their oppressors, their choice of tactics, violence or nonviolent, notwithstanding, is a resounding moral and a legal endorsement provided on the highest level at a time when the world was emerging from the throes of its second universal war. So many countries and peoples around the world were looking forward to gaining their independence from French and British colonialism while others were falling prey to Soviet ambitions. 

The unambiguity of its language is as inspiring today as the tergiversations and back-peddling of so many contemporary thought and political leaders is appalling. The complex dynamics often unleashed by popular revolutions should not be used as justification for inaction. The war against the Nazis was not fought by saints.  

The concept of "last resort" here is quite telling. For people do not embark on a rebellion or a popular revolution on a whim. They do it when they have given up hope that their leaders are capable of fostering living standards that are conducive to a dignified existence. Indeed, people seem to be deeply aware of the dangers inherent in revolutionary action which is why popular revolutions are rare occurrences as opposed to regular warfare between states, nations and empires.

But when push comes to shove, the human spirit will always cry out: “Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietam servitutem,” or “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful servitude.”

Note: “Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietam servitutem,” or “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery,” is a statement attributed to Rafal Leszczynski, the Count Palatine of Posen (1650–1703). But the statement became more known when quoted by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and later by Thomas Jefferson in a letter sent to James Madison on January 30, 1787.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Preamble 

“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures,  national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”



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