Wednesday, 17 April 2013
In the past slavery and serfdom have been facts of British life - some of our fellow human beings were regarded as less than fully human.
But in more enlightened times, it was recognised that whatever a person' gender; race; class; natural intelligence - there were certain rights that they should enjoy.
It is sometimes worth reflecting on what those rights are. Over recent centuries attempts have been made to identify and list those rights. It's worth looking at some of those documents, and reflecting on why those rights are so important.
Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (France, August 1789)
Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (France, 1793)
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" - US Declaration of Independence (1776) - and the amendments to the US Constitution
redress of grievances.
quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Counsel for his defence.
enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
European Convention on Human Rights (1952)