Article 1: Equality and Dignity

  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word ‘dignity’ as follows: “The state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect”.  The right to equality and dignity means that being born as a human automatically grants you the right to dignity and to rights. The only criteria for this right is being born a human being. This ensures that no human matters more or less than others and that no one has the right to treat others without dignity or to differentiate the worth of humans. Dignity and rights are not something that humans have to acquire or obtain, but rather something that we are entitled to from the moment of birth. This is important because humans have a tendency to look down on different cultures, religions, etc. than their own.  Furthermore, this right is fundamental to the rest of the Human Rights because violations against many other articles will also interfere with the right to be born free in equality and dignity. For example, if one is subjected to slavery, it is against Article 4; Freedom from Slavery. But it would also be a violation of this article, as slaves aren’t treated with dignity, or have equality in rights compared to non-slaves.

Seen in the light of World War II, the right to equal dignity and rights is of great importance. Many minorities throughout the world were not seen as worthy of respect and honor, which brought terrible actions with it. During the War, the Nazis believed that there was a superior race, the Nordic race and that others such as Jewish, Roma, and different ethnic groups were inferior. The Right to Equality and Dignity is protection from such ideologies to form because we all are born equal in dignity and rights. Another example of how this right is used in real life is on the subject of assisted death which in most countries is illegal. It is the term for when a person, often because of old age or illness, chooses themselves to die assisted by a doctor. One argument used by the pro-assisted death people is that some humans don’t feel dignified in their last stages of life. They would like to choose to leave the world peacefully instead of, for example, in pain from an illness like dementia, cancer, etc. Therefore an argument for this is that it violates a human’s right to dignity and that it is in conflict with ‘acting towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’

Written by Nanna Orloff Mortensen

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