Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The UN's "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" boils down to...

...a declaration of government and UN rights to oppress:
Article 29 of the Declaration emphasizes that "In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society." Almost any restriction on freedom "determined by law" can be defended on the grounds that it is needed to promote "morality," "public order," or "general welfare." Worse still, Article 29 also notes that "These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations." Far from placing human rights above legislation, the Declaration makes them subject to the "purposes and principles" of an undemocratic transnational legislative body where oppressive dictatorships are heavily represented. From a natural rights standpoint,this is a retrogression relative to traditional majoritarian democracy, not an improvement. The issue is of more than just legalistic importance in light of recent UN initiatives such as the ongoing attempt to ban "defamation of religion." If the UN decides that this new norm is one of its "purposes" or "principles," the UDHR will not only permit governments to censor speech that violates it but may actually require them to do so.
Ilya Somin has more at the Volokh Conspiracy. Left unaddressed is the issue of continuing attempts at the UN to ban the private ownership of firearms.

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