As the world’s leading international entity, the United Nations (UN) has set a precedence for defining human rights. The act of defining human rights and basic freedoms as inherent and for all human beings is a first step in making the protection of human rights a reality. However, despite introducing a lengthy list of “rights” in the thirty Articles of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNHR), the UN, as have other international organizations, has only hinted as to how such rights will be effectively safeguarded. Coining the concept of “human rights” is a great feat, but one that places much responsibility on the international community if such rights are to be recognized. In light of very current issues such as the plight of immigrant and stateless individuals, one can only wonder how the world will take a stand to support the rights of all individuals, both in times of peace and in times of crisis.

Not considering the effectiveness of the UN in ensuring the human rights of all people (which will be discussed in a separate post), the questions that are left unanswered by the UNHR, among others, are:

  1. Given that rights are intangible, what really can be considered a “right” and where is the line to be drawn?
  2. Who is considered part of the “human family” in our international system as it stands and why are all humans not included?
  3. What can be done to make sovereign states act to secure human rights for all individuals?
  4. What role must the UN play in making Universal Human Rights a reality?