International Law Law School Assignment

Critical Study on Civil & Political Rights in UDHR

Minorities Human Rights

This Article “Critical Study on Civil & Political Rights in UDHR” is written by Tshewang Dema“, She is a final year BA.LLB(Hons.) student at Lovely Professional University, Punjab.


“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.” ~ ~Søren Kierkegaard

Human rights are best explained as certain norms or moral principles that described human behaviours. The core concept of human rights is that there are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of their nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. For instances, in a nation human right should not be solely applied to the local community, but also to other group such as migrant workers. All people should be equally entitled with their human rights, free from any discrimination. It is to be understood that these rights are universal, interdependent, and equal.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted in 1948, Paris by the United Nations General Assembly. It could be consider as a forerunner for all future human rights law. From such a motion, begin the development of many human rights treaties afterward. These human rights laws have quite a few important fundamental objectives: to protect a person from any harm, ensuring the person right to live, and to uphold the person’s dignity as a human. For all of these objectives to be upheld in countries among the world, human rights should be protected as legal rights internationally. Thus, that’s why human rights were listed out in the constitution of many countries, and this validated the existence of these human rights treaties.

Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals’ freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations and private individuals, and which ensure one’s ability to participate in the civil and political life of the society and state without discrimination or repression. In this paper attempt to analyse the importance of human rights and advantage of how having UDHR as non-binding instrument. This dissertation also analyses the effect of UDHR with civil and political rights. Though this paper contains information about UDHR but focus is more on critical analysis of civil and political rights.

Key Words: Human Rights, Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Significance, Civil Rights, Political Rights


“Our hopes for a more just, safe, and peaceful world can only be achieved when there is universal respect for the inherent dignity and equal rights of all members of the human family.”

~UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

International law was solely concerned with states in the classical period which was influenced by the theory of state sovereignty. The transformation of the position of the individuals and the international legal protection of human rights has undergone dramatic growth and evolution since the end of the Second World War, the founding of the United Nations (UN) in 1945, and the subsequent adoption, by the UN General Assembly, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)[1] on 10 December 1948.[2]

Although the historical origins of the concept of human rights are often linked with the idea of natural rights  and there had been legal instruments adopted earlier in different states aimed at acknowledging and ensuring the protection of human rights[3] by the rule of law, the proclamation and adoption of the UDHR on 10 December 1948 marked the real beginning of the momentous international journey towards ensuring that human rights are protected universally by the rule of law. Thus, the UDHR is considered today as the legal baseline for modern international human rights law, and 10 December 2008 marked the 60th anniversary of the setting of that legal baseline.[4]

Although not intended as a legally binding instrument at the time of its adoption, the UDHR clearly acknowledged in its preamble, as quoted at the beginning of this chapter, the essential need to protect human rights through the rule of law. The preamble of the UDHR bears ample testimony to the fact that it was the first normative response to the then international community to the terrible experience it had gone through war. It notes that “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous act which have. UDHR mainly define the rights that posses and declare how important are those rights. Though its non-binding instrument but the concept in each country was dragged from this declaration and made as importance. Though there are many rights but mainly it focused on civil and political rights as this become an essential for one to exist as it come from the birth of one.

Civil rights include the ensuring of peoples’ physical and mental integrity, life and safety; protection from discrimination on grounds such as race, gender, national origin, colour, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, or disability; and individual rights such as privacy, the freedoms of thought and conscience, speech and expression, religion, the press, assembly and movement.[5]

Political rights include natural justice (procedural fairness) in law, such as the rights of the accused, including the right to a fair trial; due process; the right to seek redress or a legal remedy; and rights of participation in civil society and politics such as freedom of association, the right to assemble, the right to petition, the right of self-defence, and the right to vote. [6]

The critical study, contributed by established human rights scholars and experts from different parts of the world and even books by many writers provide this much needed reflective analyses of the developments in the different areas of international human rights law over the past since the adoption of the UDHR mainly focusing on Civil and political rights.


Human Rights being essential for all-round development of the personality of the individual in the society by necessarily protected and be made available to all the individuals. They must be preserved, cherished, and defended if peace and prosperity are to be achieved. Human rights are the very essence of a meaningful life and to maintain human dignity is the ultimate purpose of the government. The need for the protection arisen because of inevitable increase in the control over men’s action by the government which by no means can be regarded as desirable.[7]

The consciousness on the part of the human beings as to their rights has also necessitated the protection by the state. It has been realised that the functions of all the laws whether they are rules of municipal law or international law should be to protect them in the interest of the community.

  • To study the importance of human rights
  • To look into the role of UDHR in giving human rights
  • To study how civil and political rights is important in UDHR and giving human rights
  • To examine the salient features of civil and political rights in UDHR contrary to contemporary scenarios.

This analysis was carried out using a desk review research and doctrinal method to find out the fact-situations and grounds related to the topic of the research. The methodology adopted in the preparation of the research report is mainly based on secondary sources. The study will be made by using various secondary sources such as books, journals, newspaper articles, online sources, research articles, statutes, etc., which relate to the concerned study. The proposed research follows an Analytical Methodology. The methods used were purely qualitative to generate a deeper understanding of the subject matter. A rigorous content analysis technique was employed to develop and generate themes which informed the analysis. The Researcher will refer to various statutory laws and the Law Commission Report of India concerning the concerned topic to come to a certain conclusion relating to the study.


Human beings are rational beings. They by under of their being human possess certain basic and inalienable rights which are commonly known as human rights. These rights co-exist from their birth and belong to them. Human rights are birth rights therefore inherent in all the individuals irrespective of their caste, creed, religion, sex and nationality. These rights are important for all individuals as they are in following with their freedom and dignity and are facilitate physical, moral, social and spiritual welfare.[8]

Human rights have been promoted since 1946 by the United Nations as part of its mandate. But since the human rights standard-setting has been continuously developing, new concepts have also been adopted by the international community and made part of the human rights obligations of the states. Human rights is moral principles or norms that describe certain standards of human behaviour, and are regularly protected as legal rights in municipal and international law. Everyone born in this world has human rights that must be protected by the law. According to United Nations, 30 basic human rights are recognized around the world.

Human Rights are also sometimes referred to as fundamental rights, basic rights, inherent rights, natural rights and birthrights. Every individual has dignity. The principles of human rights were drawn up by human beings as a way of ensuring that the dignity of everyone is properly and equally respected, that is, to ensure that a human being will be able to fully develop and use human qualities such as intelligence, talent and conscience and satisfy his or her spiritual and other needs.[9]

Dignity gives an individual a sense of value and worth. The existence of human rights demonstrates that human beings are aware of each other’s worth. Human dignity is not an individual, exclusive and isolated sense. It is a part of our common humanity. The denial of human rights and fundamental freedoms not only is an individual and personal tragedy but also creates conditions of social and political unrest, sowing the seeds of violence and conflict within and between societies and nations.

Human Rights are defined with principles as universal and inalienable; indivisible; interdependent and interrelated. They are universal because everyone is born with and possess the same rights, regardless of where they live, their gender or race or their religious, culture or ethnic background. Inalienable because people’s rights can never be taken away. Indivisible and interdependent because all rights- political, civil, social, cultural and economic- are equal in importance and none can be fully enjoyed without the others. They apply to all equally, and all have the right to participate in decisions that affect their lives. They are upheld by the rule of law and strengthened through legitimate claims for duty-bearers to be accountable to international standards.[10]

Universality and inalienability: Human rights are universal and inalienable. All people everywhere in the world are entitled to them. The universality of human rights is encompassed in the words of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

Indivisibility: Human rights are indivisible. Whether they relate to civil, cultural, economic, political or social issues, human rights are inherent to the dignity of every human person. Consequently, all human rights have equal status, and cannot be positioned in a hierarchical order. Denial of one right invariably impedes the enjoyment of other rights. Thus, the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living cannot be compromised at the expense of other rights, such as the right to health or the right to education.[11]

Interdependence and Interrelatedness: Human rights are interdependent and interrelated. Each one contributes to the realization of a person’s human dignity through the satisfaction of his or her developmental, physical, psychological and spiritual needs. The fulfilment of one right often depends, wholly or in part, upon the fulfilment of others. For instance, fulfilment of the right to health may depend, in certain circumstances, on fulfilment of the right to development, to education or information.[12]

Equality and Non-discrimination: All individuals are equal as human beings and by virtue of the inherent dignity of each human person. No one, therefore, should suffer discrimination based on race, colour, ethnicity, gender, age, language, sexual orientation, religion, political or other opinions, national, social or geographical origin, disability, property, birth or another status as established by human rights standards.

Participation and Inclusion: All people have the right to participate in and access information relating to the decision-making processes that affect their lives and well-being. Rights-based approaches require a high degree of participation by communities, civil society, minorities, women, young people, indigenous peoples and other identified groups.[13]

Accountability and Rule of Law: States and other duty-bearers are answerable for the observance of human rights. In this regard, they have to comply with the legal norms and standards enshrined in international human rights instruments. Where they fail to do so, aggrieved rights-holders are entitled to institute proceedings for appropriate redress before a competent court or other adjudicators in following the rules and procedures provided by law. Individuals, the media, civil society and the international community play important roles in holding governments accountable for their obligation to uphold human rights.


Human rights are indivisible and interdependent and therefore precisely there cannot be different kinds of human rights. All human rights are equal in importance and in consideration hence are inherent of human beings. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights therefore did not categorize the different kinds of human rights. However there was subsequent development which brought change and United Nation system make human rights into two kind as (1) Civil and Political Rights and (2) Economic, Social and cultural Rights.

  • Civil and Political Rights   

These rights are also known as “negative right”, “freedom from right” and “first generation right” as this rights are related to protection of the rights to life and personal liberty. They are essential for a person so that he may live a dignified life. Such rights include right to life; right to own property; right to own thought; right to speeches and expression; freedom from torture, conscience and religion; and freedom of movement.

Political rights are those rights which allows to participate in the Government of a state. Thus right to vote, right to be elected, right to take part in conduct of public affairs or to be chosen representative are instance of political rights.

The nature of the civil and political may be different but they are inter-related and interwoven therefore it does not appear logical to differentiate them instead it leads to formulation of one covenant covering both civil and political aspects of rights into Covenant as International on Civil and Political Rights.

  • Economic, Social and cultural Rights

Economic, social and cultural rights also called as “freedom to”, “positive right” and “second generation right” as its related to the guarantee of minimum necessities of the life to human beings. In the absence of these rights the existence of human beings is likely to be endangered. Right to adequate food, clothing, living and housing, right to work, right to social security, mental health and right to educations are included in this category of rights. These rights are included in International Covenant on Economic Social and culture Rights.

These rights are counterpoint to the first-generation rights with human rights conceived more in positive than negative terms. The enjoyment of these rights requires a major commitment of resources and therefore their realization cannot be immediate as in the case of civil and political rights. These rights are based fundamentally concept of social equality.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is international bill which articulates fundamental rights and freedoms for all. It is declaration consisting of a declaration of general principles on human rights and draft convention, which would be a convention on such specific rights would lend themselves to binding legal obligation. Basic human rights recognized around the world declared by United Nations through Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration held by United Nations General Assembly at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France on 10 December 1948. Of the then 58 members of the United Nations, 48 voted in favor, none against, eight abstained, and two did not vote and later, two International Covenants were adopted in 1966 codifying the two sets of rights outlined in the Universal Declaration.[15] 

The UDHR, it should be noted, is not a treaty. It was meant to proclaim “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations” rather than enforceable legal obligations. Nevertheless, a number of its provisions have acquired a status juridically more important than originally intended, a reflection of its wide use, even by national courts, as a means of judging compliance with human rights obligations under the UN Charter. It is also one of the instruments constituting the International Bill of Human Rights.[16]

Human rights is moral principles or norms that describe certain standards of human behaviour, and are regularly protected as legal rights in municipal and international law. Everyone born in this world have human rights that must be protected by the law. The Universal Declaration contains thirty articles. It enumerated the basic postulates and principles of human rights in a most comprehensive manner. Out of 30 Articles, while 21 articles explained about civil and political rights and 6 articles cover economic and social rights.


The charter of the United Nation aim is to protect the human rights and individual freedoms at the international level. In lieu of implement the mandate of the states, the UN adopted universal proclamation of human rights. The declaration is nothing but lengthiness of the ideology of what states parties have conceived in the charter.

  • the declaration with its non-binding nature has conventional recognition without any exception by the whole international community.
  • The nature of the declaration is true sprite to bring peace and security.
  • The regular consultation to the declaration and the development of the provisions later crystalline into covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, covenant on civil and political rights, and the adoption of self-directed texting on various aspects of human rights. All these texts collogue the status on the declaration is the part of customary international law.
  • All the states – even the communist countries (like former USSR) – which were distrustful in the beginning step by step realized the significance and started defending declaration.
  • The declaration became an extension of the charter of the United Nation. On various occasions, the various organs of the UN enclosed the Security Council and the general assembly marked its provisions in a number of resolutions and documents.
  • The states parties advanced their claims basing on the provisions of the declaration especially the developing states from the developed country.
  • The world conference on human rights held at Vienna in 1993 made reference to the UDHR and paid its protection to it.
  • he across-the-board recognition and respect given to the declaration universally, and recreation of december10 every year by the world community guide scholars to term it as the MAGNA CARTA of the world, in upholding the rights and important liberties of the everyone’s.
  • the international court of justice and the municipal courts in a number of case made significant reference to UDHR in their outcome, led for wide judicial acknowledgment.

Civil and political rights are protected under UDHR from the core of human rights protection in the international system. The link between political development and civil and political rights is a basic one. At one level the presence of and respect for civil and political rights indicates that the political community in which we exist also respects its citizens as valued members of political society who in political life and should be free to participate in political life and who should not be restricted from political participation.

Civil and political rights need not be codified to be protected, although most democracies worldwide do have formal written guarantees of civil and political rights. Civil rights are considered to be natural rights. Thomas Jefferson wrote in his A Summary View of the Rights of British America that “a free people their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.”

They are fundamentally civil and political in nature, as well as strongly individualistic: They serve negatively to protect the individual from excesses of the state. First-generation rights include, among other things, freedom of speech, the right to a fair trial, the right to keep and bear arms, freedom of religion and voting rights.


Right to Equality and Freedom

Dignity is the foundation of all human rights. Human beings have rights, and should be treated with utmost care, precisely because each one possesses intrinsic worth. Former UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called these opening words “perhaps the most resonant and beautiful words of any international agreement.” They underline that “human rights are not a reward for good behaviour,” as he put it, but the entitlement of all people at all times and in all places.[19]

After the horror of the second world war, the international community thought it is important to emphasize the concept of human dignity in the first words of UDHR as ground-breaking document, understanding a term that was already highlighted in the opening line of UDHR’s preamble as well as in the charter that founded the United Nations earlier. In spite of unparallel progress at the international level in enhancing the legal protection of individuals and groups of individuals against discrimination, reports from all parts of the world confirm the fact that discriminatory acts and practices are anything but a memory from the past.[20]

Following the prohibition of discrimination based on race, sex, language and religion in the Charter of the United Nations, the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights together with the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948 became the next important step in the legal consolidation of the principle of equality before the law and the resultant prohibition of discrimination.

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[21] proclaims that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. Another in Article 2,[22] It states “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedom set forth in this Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty”.

This language is reflected in regional instruments, such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The UN has elaborated rights in a number of treaties that build on Article 2 – including most recently the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was adopted in 2006. It is also key to current efforts to protect all groups that face persecution, even those not specifically covered by a particular international Convention.

In relation to the right to equality, Article 7[23] describes that. “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.”

Article 7 says the law is the same for everyone and must treat everyone in all these categories fairly. These principles of equality and non-discrimination help form the rule of law. These obligations are further elaborated in several international instruments to combat specific forms of discrimination against not only women, but also indigenous peoples, migrants, minorities, people with disabilities. Discrimination on grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity are also covered. The principle of equality for all does not only apply to governments. Discrimination must also be addressed in the workplace, school and home.

A succession of international human rights treaties have amplified the rights listed in Article 7, and over the decades, jurisprudence has added further obligations to the ban on discrimination. It is not enough for countries to refrain from treating certain groups unfavourably. They now have to take positive steps to redress discrimination. For example, under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, countries must support persons with disabilities to enable them to make legal decisions by themselves, rather than deny them their legal capacity.[24]

Prohibition against slavery[25]

No one has the right to make us a slave and we cannot make anyone our slave. But if you thought slavery disappeared with the end of the Transatlantic slave trade in the 1800s, it may be a shock to learn of the abuse of fisherfolk who supply seafood to some of the world’s top supermarkets, the fate of women under so-called Islamic State or of migrant women in brothels in Europe and elsewhere; or current reality in Mauritania, the last country in the world to officially ban slavery.

Enormous progress has been made in the 70 years since adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and indeed in the 150 years since entire economies were based on ownership of our fellow human beings, and religious leaders found divine inspiration for the oppressive system. Yet, slavery-like practices and trafficking in human beings continue to remain a reality of our time.

Article 4 of UDHR state that no one shall be held in slavery or servitude; no one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour and for the purpose of this Article the term ‘forced or compulsory labour’ shall not include:

  • any work required to be done in the ordinary course of detention imposed according to the provisions of Article 5 of this Convention or during conditional release from such detention
  • any service of a military character or, in case of conscientious
  • objectors in countries where they are recognised, service exacted instead of compulsory military service
  • any service exacted in case of an emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community, or
  • any work or service which forms part of normal civic obligations.
Right to Fair Trial

The origins of this right can be traced back to the ‘The Law of the Twelve Tables’ of the Roman Republic from around 455 B.C., which contained the right to have all parties present at a hearing[26] and also prohibited bribery for judicial officials.[27] The signing of the Magna Carta was another important event in the development of the right. It proclaimed that, “No freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned, or disseized, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any way harmed nor will we go upon or send upon him save by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”[28]

The Treaty of Arbroath of 1320 was another major development, whose principals were later adopted by several democratic countries.[29] The right to a fair trial is at the heart of Article 10, one more section of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) that aims to prevent a repetition of the atrocities of Hitler’s Germany, where compliant judges and courts served the aims of the Nazi regime, rather than the cause of justice in the interest of the people. Some guarantees of a fair trial, including the right to presumption of innocence, can also be found in Articles 6, 7, 8 and 11 of the Declaration.

The right to a fair trial has been accepted beyond dispute by every country (even if they do not always honour it). Fair trials not only protect suspects and defendants, but they also make societies safer and stronger by solidifying confidence in justice and the rule of law. In recent years, the UN Human Rights Office, and other UN human rights bodies and independent experts have expressed particular alarm about the situation linked to fair trials and independence of the judiciary in numerous countries including Bahrain, China, Egypt, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, the Maldives, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkey, Venezuela and Vietnam.[30]

Example in China, the lack of transparency surrounding trials and administration of justice, as well as the tendency to rely on “confessions” which may well have been coerced, have resulted in the jailing or disappearance of numerous human rights defenders and political activists, along with their defence lawyers, since a major crackdown on dissent began in July 2015. This apparent violation of the right to fair trial has been widely condemned, including by successive UN High Commissioners for Human Rights, and a wide range of UN independent experts.[31]

Right to Property

Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) guarantees the right to property. This is yet another right included in reaction to the atrocities of the Holocaust, when property was confiscated from Jews and others, often to enrich Nazi officials. European Jews were stripped of billions of dollars’ worth of cash, artwork, houses, businesses and personal belongings. “Hitler’s Final Solution was not only an act of genocide: it was also a campaign of organised theft.”[32]

The first draft of the UDHR only referred to the right to ‘own personal property’, laying more importance to collective ownership. The final draft included the Western objections. However, despite finding a place in UDHR, right of property has not been included in the legally enforceable International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The controversy surrounding this right reflected the ideological divide of the Cold war.

In the current scenarios the right to property doesn’t lay down a positive obligation to fulfil the right by compulsorily transferring the property from one person to another. It provides opportunities and agency, but does not guarantee result. A positive duty for the fulfilment to the right would make its application arbitrary and incompatible.[33] However, the individual right to property can sometimes be undermined by the State for the greater public good. However, this cannot be done in an arbitrary manner and proper compensation should be given the person whose right is being infringed.

Prohibition Against Torture[34]

There is one absolute prohibition in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) that is universally accepted as unequivocal: Article 5 talk on ban on torture. At times, states may have disputed the definition of what constitutes torture, but virtually none now openly defend the practice, even if some still carry it out in what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights described as “some of the darkest corners of our planet.”

Article 5 of the UDHR, 1948 proclaims that “No one shall be subjected to torture, or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Essentially, Article 5 incorporated the right to protection against torture and the same has been sought to be achieved through Declaration of Fifth United Nations Congress held in 1975.

Again, Article 7 of the ICCPR provides that no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experiment. The first sentence of Article 7 of ICCPR reproduces Article 5 of UDHR. Furthermore, article 7 cannot be derogated from in any circumstances not even during public emergency. This section shows the concern of the international community to defend and preserve the physical and moral integrity of human beings. The purpose of this article is to protect the integrity and dignity of the individuals. It is the responsibility of the Human Rights Committee under Article 40(4) of ICCPR for implementation of these rights.


The drafters of the constitution while drafting the constitution took the help of various provisions enshrined under Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Thus in this manner several provisions of Universal Declaration on Human Rights have been engrained under our constitution. Further, the supreme court has in its interpretation and in its function of protecting the spirit of the constitution expanded the scope of the provisions of UDHR.

The rationale behind borrowing the provisions of the Universal Declaration on Human rights lies not merely in the philosophical status that these provisions hold but also lies in the realization of the fact that the social-political-economical exploitation suffered by India could only be rectified through various constitutional guarantees of human rights. While incorporating these provisions into the spirit of the constitution they made certain fundamental rights such as right to life non-derogable rights, which could never be derogated other than by observing due process of law. Further, in cases such as Kesavananda Bharti case,[35] Maneka case[36] such right of the Right to Life was expanded to encompass “Right to Life with Dignity”.

Following table provides us with a list of rights which can be compared to those provided under UDHR-

UDHR (Article Number)Indian Constitution
1. All people are entitled to rights without distinction based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, opinion, origin, property, birth or residency.Art. 14 (equality before the law and equal protection of the laws), as limited by Art. 31C. Art. 16 (1) (equality of public employment), as limited by Art 16(3)-16(5).
2. All Human beings are free and equal in dignity and rightsArt. 15 (on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth), except under Arts. 15(3) and 15(4) (special provisions for women and children, and affirmative action).  Art. 15 applies to all state action, and to private action restricting access to public places and facilities.  Art. 17 (abolition of untouchability); and Art. 16(2) (employment discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, and residence), as limited by Art 16(3)-16(5). 
3. Right to life, liberty and security of person.Art. 21 (Right to life with dignity, no extrajudicial executions). Art. 23 (prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labor); Art. 24 (prohibition of hazardous labor by children under age 14); Art. 17, Abolition of Untouchability
4. Freedom from slaveryArt 17 and Art 23, 24. Specific Act of Parliament exists for abolition of Bonded labour.
5. Freedom from tortureArt 20, 21, 22
6. Right to be treated equally by the lawArt 14
7. Right to equal protection by the lawArt 14, Art 39A
8. Right for all to effective remedy by competent tribunalArt 14, 20, 21,22
9. Freedom from arbitrary arrest.Art 22
10. Right to a fair public hearing by independent tribunalArt 20, 21, 22, 39A
11. Right to presumption of innocence until proven guilty at public trial with all guarantees necessary for defenseArt 20, 21,22, 39A
12. Right to privacy in home, family and correspondenceThough not specific, Art 21 is invoked
13. Freedom of movement in your own country and the right to leave and return to any countriesThough not covered specifically, Art 21 is invoked. Menaka Gnadhi v. UOI is a classical case.
14. Right to political asylum in other countriesN/A
15. Right to nationalityArt. 19(1)(d) as to movement, and (e) at to residence, as limited by Art. 19(5) (reasonable restrictions in the interests of the public or of a “scheduled tribe”).
16. Right to marriage and family and to equal rights of men and women during and after MarriageCovered by separate Acts, specific to cultures and religions.
17. Right to own propertyArt 31
18. Freedom of thought and conscience and religionArt 19, 25, 26, 27, 28
19. Freedom of opinion and expression and to seek, receive and impart informationArt. 25 (freedom of religion and of conscience, “subject to public order, morality and health”), though under Art. 25(2) any level of government may restrict economic activities related to religion.   Special mention is made of the religious practices of the Sikh religion.   Under Art. 26, all religious orders have limited powers to establish places of worship and teaching, while Art. 28 ensures the separation of religious and state education. In addition, The Right To Information Act 2005
20. Freedom of Association and assemblyArt. 19(1) (b) (freedom of peaceful assembly), as limited by Art. 19(3) (reasonable restrictions to advance national security).
21. Right to take part in and select governmentThere are numerous provisions, throughout the text of the Constitution, including those relating to election of the President, local village committees (Panchayats), and detailed rules for elections, eligibility for public service, etc.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights even though a noble attempt towards making the world a better place for cohabitation, yet the non-biding nature of the declaration in a way hampered its objective. Again the wide ambit provided for each of the essential rights provided in the declaration made sure, that future international and also domestic legislation can include virtually anything and everything under the sun within its scope of operation.

It has to be noted that in spite of all the extensive legislation envisaged with the UDHR at its head, the change in ground zero scenario is far from what the scenario looks like on the theoretical front. Often, instances of human rights violations are reported to be carried out by State actors or also at frequent instances by non-state actors, who are funded by the State. Hence, as long as we keep on propagating our personal interest at the cost of other’s interests, the world can never be a safe place to live in and we will always have to fight for protecting our rights.

The UDHR does have continuing relevance. Despite problems raised in terms of its non-binding effect, universality and cultural relativism, it has had enough of an influence to inspire regional treaties. Especially UDHR have gave broader hope to civil and political rights as from this declaration we can find that all civil and political rights around the world. We can say UDHR gave birth to civil and political rights that is essence to every individual.

  • Book
  • Dr, H.O Agarwal, International Law & Human Rights (22nd Edition, Central Law Publication, Allahabad
  • Dr. S.K Kapoor, International Law & Human Rights (22nd Edition, Central Law Agency, Lucknow)
  • Websites

[1] Universal Declaration of Human Rights G.A. res. 217A (III), UN Doc. A/810 at 71 (1948), Preamble,

 para. 3

[2] T. Buergenthal, ‘The Evolving International Human Rights System’, American Journal of International Law, 100(4)(2006), pp. 783–807;

[3] Journal of Law and Religion, 14 (1999), pp. 77–96.

[4] M.A. Glendon, ‘The Rule of Law in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’, Northwestern Journal of International Human Rights, 2 (2004), p. 5 [online]. available at: edu/journals/JIHR/v2/5 (visited on September 22, 2021).

[5] Britannic, Civil and political Rights, available at: (visited on September 22, 2021). 

[6] Ibid

[7] Development of International Human Rights Law Before and after the UDHR, available at: (visited on September 23, 2021).

[8] What are human rights?, available at: (visited on September 23, 2021).

[9] Human Rights Principles and Rights, available at: (visited on September 24, 2021).

[10] Dr. H.O Agarwal, International Law & Human Rights 766 (Central Law Publication, Allahabad, 22nd Edn.,2019).

[11] Stephen P. Marks “Human Rights: A Brief Introduction” 2 HUFC 12 (2016).

[12] Ibid

[13] Theoretically Justifying Human Rights: A Critical Analysis, available at: (visited on September 24, 2021).

[14] Dr. S.K Kapoor, International Law & Human Rights 824 (Central Law Agency, Lucknow, 22nd  Edn.,2021).

[15] Universal Declaration of Rights, available at: (visited on September 24, 2021).

[16] Ibid

[17] Dr. Alfred Mwenedata, “ A critical analysis of the scope and nature of the concept of Human Rights” 21 IOSR-JHSS 56-64 (2016).

[18] Civil And Political Rights, available at: (visited on September 24, 2021).

[19] Civil and political rights, available at: (visited on September 24, 2021).

[20] Dr. Alfred Mwenedata, “A critical analysis of the scope and nature of the concept of Human Rights” 21 IOSR-JHSS 56-64 (2016).

[21] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, available at: (visited on September 25, 2021).

[22] Ibid

[23] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, available at: (visited on September 25, 2021).

[24] Rights to Life and Equality, available at: (visited on September 25, 2021).

[25] Human Rights and Slavery, available at: (visited on September 25, 2021).

[26] The Law of the Twelve Tables, Table 2, Law 1.

[27] The Law of the Twelve Tables, Table 9, Law 3.

[28] The Magna Carta, 39 (1215)

[29] Linda Macdonald-Lewis, Warriors And Wordsmiths Of Freedom: The Birth And Growth Of Democracy (1st ed. 2009).

[30] Article 6: Right to a fair trial, available at: (visited on September 25, 2021).

[31] China’s Crimes against Humanity Targeting Uyghurs and Other Turkic Muslims, available at: (visited on September 25, 2021).

[32] Reconsidering the Right to Own Property, available at: (visited on September 26, 2021).

[33] A. Rosas, J.E. Helgesen, D. Goodman, The Strength of Diversity: Human Rights and Pluralist Democracy, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1992, 133-158, at 138.

[34] Assessing the Prohibition Against Torture, available at: (visited on September 26, 2021).

[35] (1973) 4 SCC 225; AIR 1973 SC 1461

[36] AIR 1978 SC 597


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