Discuss about The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


This essay focuses on the right to equality before the law, or equal protection of the law as it is often phrased, is fundamental to any just and democratic society. Whether rich or poor, ethnic majority or religious minority, political ally of the state or opponent–all are entitled to equal protection before the law. It is a basic human right that the every person should enjoy equal protection under the law[1]. The Bangladeshi government should equally protect all the people, who are also Bangladeshi citizens, because this is the government’s responsibility. Furthermore, it is stipulated in Bangladeshi the Constitution that “All Citizens are Equal before law and are entitled to Equal protection of law – Article 27 of the constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.” The “equality before the law” and it must be maintained. No one is above the law, which is, after all, the creation of the people, not something imposed upon them. The citizens of a democracy submit to the law because they recognize that, however indirectly, they are submitting to themselves as makers of the law. When laws are established by the people who then have to obey them, both law and democracy are served[2].

 Legal System of Bangladesh:

The legal system of our country is based in part on English common law. Bangladesh seceded from Pakistan in December 1971. The British –era legislation applied in Pakistan after 1947 and post –partition legislation enacted in Pakistan continue to form the basis of Bangladeshi personal status laws, but legal developments since 1972 have been distinct.[3]


All Citizens are Equal before law and are entitled to Equal protection of law – Article 27 of the constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. ’  falls under the Equality before the law or equality under the law or legal egalitarianism is the principle under which each individual is subject to the same laws]

Article 7: of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.

According to the UN, this principle is particularly important to the minorities and to the poor.[1]

Thus, the law and the judges must treat everybody by the same laws regardless of their gender, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status etc, without privilege.

Equality before the law is one of the basic principles of classical liberalism.

In his famous funeral oration of 431 BC, the Athenian leader Pericles discussed this concept. This may be the first known instance.

“If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if no social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way.[4]


Canadian John Peters Humphrey was called upon by the United Nations Secretary-General to work on the project and became the Declaration’s principal drafter. At the time Humphrey was newly appointed as Director of the Division of Human Rights within the United Nations Secretariat. [5]The Commission on Human Rights, a standing body of the United Nations, was constituted to undertake the work of preparing what was initially conceived as an International Bill of Rights. The membership of the Commission was designed to be broadly representative of the global community with representatives of the following countries serving: Australia, Belgium, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Chile, China, Egypt, France, India, Iran, Lebanon, Panama, Philippines Republic, United Kingdom, United States, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Uruguay and Yugoslavia. [6]Well known members of the Commission included Eleanor Roosevelt of the United States, who was Chairman, Jacques Maritain and René Cassin of France, Charles Malik of Lebanon, and P. C. Chang of China [7].Among others. Humphrey provided the initial draft which became the working text of the Commission.[8]


The Universal Declaration was adopted by the General Assembly on 10 December 1948 by a vote of 48 in favor, 0 against, with 8 abstentions.[9]

The following countries voted in favor of the Declaration: Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Thailand, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela.[10]

Despite the central role played by Canadian John Humphrey, the Canadian Government at first abstained from voting on the Declaration’s draft, but later voted in favour of the final draft in the General Assembly. [11]


The underlying structure of the Universal Declaration was introduced in its second draft which was prepared by Rene Cassin. Cassin worked from a first draft prepared by John Peters Humphrey. The structure was influenced by the Code Napoleon, including a preamble and introductory general principles.[12]Cassin compared the Declaration to the portico of a Greek temple, with a foundation, steps, four columns and a pediment. Articles 1 and 2 are the foundation blocks, with their principles of dignity, liberty, equality and brotherhood. The seven paragraphs of the preamble, setting out the reasons for the Declaration, are represented by the steps. The main body of the Declaration forms the four columns. The first column (articles 3-11) constitutes rights of the individual, such as the right to life and the prohibition of slavery. The second column (articles 12-17) constitutes the rights of the individual in civil and political society. The third column (articles 18-21) is concerned with spiritual, public and political freedoms such as freedom of religion and freedom of association. The fourth column (articles 22-27) sets out social, economic and cultural rights. In Cassin’s model, the last three articles of the Declaration provide the pediment which binds the structure together. These articles are concerned with the duty of the individual to society and the prohibition of use of rights in contravention of the purposes of the United Nations.[13]


  • Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
  • Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
  • Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
  • Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
  • Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
  • Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
  • Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.[14]


 “The important thing in all this, is that the Declaration will be the outcome of the combined thought of 58 nations. It will therefore express the fundamental convictions of the present age with respect to what constitutes the dignity of man. It will be an international document of the first order of importance and it will be read and pondered by our children’s children.” [15]* “Taken as a whole, the Delegation of the United States believes that this is a good document – even a great document – and we propose to give it our full support. […] In giving our approval to the Declaration today it is of primary importance that we keep clearly in mind the basic character of the document. It is not a treaty; it is not an international agreement. It is not and does not purport to be a statement of law or of legal obligation. It is a Declaration of basic principles of human rights and freedoms [….] This Universal Declaration of Human Rights may well become the international Magna Carta of all men everywhere.”:Eleanor Roosevelt, first chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that drafted the Declaration.[16]* “For people of good will around the world, that document is more than just words: It’s a global testament of humanity, a standard by which any humble person on Earth can stand in judgement of any government on Earth.”[17] * In a speech on 5 October 1995, Pope John Paul II called the UDHR “one of the highest expressions of the human conscience of our time”.* Statement by Marcello Spatafora on behalf of the European Union on 10 December 2003: “Over the past 55 years, humanity has made extraordinary progress in the promotion and protection of human rights thanks to the creative force generated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, undoubtedly one of the most influential documents in history. It is a remarkable document, full of idealism but also of determination to learn lessons from the past and not to repeat the same mistakes. Most importantly, it placed human rights at the centre of the framework of principles and obligations shaping relations within the international community.”


   Islamic criticism

Predominantly Islamic countries such as Sudan,Fact|date=August 2008 Pakistan,Fact|date=August 2008 Iran, and Saudi ArabiaFact|date=August 2008 have criticized the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for its perceived failure to take into the account the cultural and religious context of Islamic countries. In 1981, the Iranian representative to the United Nations, Said Rajaie-Khorassani, articulated the position of his country regarding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by saying that the UDHR was “a secular understanding of the Judeo-Christian tradition”, which could not be implemented by Muslims without trespassing the Islamic law.Littman, David. “Universal Human Rights and Human Rights in Islam”. “Midstream”, February/March 1999.[18]

  Libertarian Criticism:

Libertarians and some conservatives believe the so-called economic rights that must beprovided by others through forceful extraction (for example taxation) negate other peoples’ inalienable rights. [19]In reference to Article 25’s declaration of a right to free medical care and Article 26’s declaration of a right to free education, Andrew Bissell (a supporter of objectivism)Fact date=August 2008 argued, “Health care doesn’t simply grow on trees; if it is to be made a right for some, the means to provide that right must be confiscated from others…no one will want to enter the medical profession when the reward for years of careful schooling and study is not fair remuneration, but rather, patients who feel entitled to one’s efforts, and a government that enslaves the very minds upon which patients’ lives depend.” .[20]


Stoljar, S. ‘The Doctrine of Acceptance in sales’ (1957) 1 Melbourne U.L.R. 483. at P. 483;

Stoljar, S. J. ‘The Contractual Concept of Condition,’ (1953) 69 L.Q.R.485.

Sale of Goods: http://www.hardwickebuilding.co.uk/articles.php?p_id=34&child=3&aol=3

Takahashi, K. ‘Right to terminate (avoid) international sales of commodities’ (2003) J.B.L. 102

Treitel, G. H. (2007) The Law of Contract, (12th ed.)  London: Sweet & Maxwell

Treitel, G. H. (1999) The Law of Contract, (10th ed.)  London:Sweet & Maxwell Stevens.

Treitel, H. G. (1991) Remedies for Breach of Contract: A Comparative Account. Oxford: Clarendon Paperbacks

Treitel, G. H.(1988) Remedies for Breach of Contract,  Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Treitel. ‘Rights of Rejection Under C.I.f. Sales’(1984)  LMCLQ. 565

Weir, T ‘Contract-The Buyer’s Right to  Reject Defective Goods’ (1976)35 Cambridge L.J. 33.

(II) Judicial Decisions

Arcos, Ltd. v. E.A. Ronaasen & Son [1933] A.C. 470

Alfred C Toepfer v. Continental Grain Co. (1974) 1 Lloyd’s Rep 11

Alfred C Toepfer v Lenersan – Poortman NV  [1980] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 143.

Aird & Coghill v. Pullan & Adams, 7 F. 258.

Avimex SA v Dewulf & Cie. [1979] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 57

Alibastine Co. v. Canada Producer Co, (1914) 30 O.L. R. 394, 17 D.L.R. 813

Ashington Piggeries Ltd.  v Christopher Hill Ltd.  [1972] A.C. 441

Aruna Mills Ltd v Dhanrajmal Gobindram [1968] 1 Q.B. 655

Aswan Engineering Establishment Co. v Lupdine Ltd (1987) 1 WLR 1

Armaghdown Motors v Gray (1963) NZLR 5

Ashmore & Sone v. C.S. Cox & Co [1899] 1 Q.B. 436

Agricultores Federados Argentinos v. Ampro S.A [1965] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 157

Brown v. Edgington (1841) 2 Man. & G. 279

Behrend & Co v Produce Brokers Co [1920] 3 K.B. 530.

Berger & Co. Inc. Appellants v Gill & Duffus S.A. Respondents [1984] A.C. 382,

B. S. Brown & Son Ltd. v. Craiks Ltd. [1970] 1 W.L.R. 752.

Bettini v. Gye [1876] 1 Q.B.D. 183

Bentsen v. Taylor, Sons & Co [1893] 2 Q.B. 274

Bernstein v Pamson Motors (Golders Green) Ltd [1987] 2 AER 220

Bartlett v. Sidney Marcus Ltd[1965] 1 W.L.R. 1013

Bergerco USA v Vegoil (1984) 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 440

Biddell Bros. v. E. Clemens Horst Co [1911] 1 K.B

British oil Cake Co. Ltd. v. J. Burstall & Co. Ltd. (1923) 15 Ll.L.Rep. 46

Bowes v. Shand (1877) 2 App. Cas. 455

Business Appliances Specialist ltd v Nationwide Credit Corpn Ltd (1988) RTR 32

Boyd v Louca (1973) 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 209

Bremer Handelsgesellschaft mbH v Vanden Avenne-Izegem PVBA [1978] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 10.

Bunge Corp v. Tradax Export S. A. [1981] 1 W.L.R. 711

Bremer Handelsgesellscheft mbH v C. Mackprang Jr., [1979] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 221

Birmingham and District Land Co. v L. & N.W. Ry (1888) 40 Ch.D. 268.

Borrowman Phillips & Co. v. Free & Hollis (1878) 4 Q.B.D. 500

Bremer Handelsgesellschaft m. b.H. v. J. H. Rayner & Co. Ltd. [1979] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 216

Cehave N.V. v. Bremer Handelsgesellschaft m.b.H. , [1975] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 445; [1976] 1 Q.B. 44

Compagnie Commerciale Sucres Et Denrees v. C. Czarnikow Ltd. (The Naxos) [1989] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 462

Clegg v Olle Andersen t/a Nordic Marine [2003] EWCA Civ 320

[1] THE RULE OF LAW  Retrieve : http://usinfo.org/mirror/usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/whatsdem/whatdm4.htm

[4] Wikipedia  Retrieve  : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equality_before_the_law.

[5] Johannes Morsink, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, University of Pennsylvania Press, p 5

[6] Morsink, p 4]

[7] The Declaration was drafted during the Chinese Civil War. P.C. Chang was appointed as a representative by the Republic of China, then recognised government of China, which was driven from mainland China and was later to become the government of Taiwan and nearby islands

[8] According to “Globalizing Family Values”, the Declaration’s pro-family phrases were the result of the Christian Democratic movement’s influence on Cassin and Malik. [Carlson, Allan (January 12, 2004. [http://www.profam.org/docs/acc/thc.acc.globalizing.040112.htm Globalizing Family Values] .]

[9] all Soviet Bloc states, South Africa and Saudi Arabia). [See http://www.unac.org/rights/question.html under “Who are the signatories of the Declaration?”

[10] . Yearbook of the United Nations 1948-1949 p 535

[11] cite journal|title=Canada and the Adoption of Universal Declaration of Human Rights|last=Schabas|first=William|journal=McGill Law Journal|pages=403|volume=43|date=1998|url=http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=info:bhD3YIk9aKUJ:scholar.google.com/&output=viewport|format=fee required

[12] Glendon, pp 62-64

[13] . Mary Ann Glendon, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Chapter 10

[14] The Universal Declaration , Retrieve  : http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a7

[15] Charles Malik, 6 November 1948 [ [http://www.un.org/law/AVLpilotproject/udhr_audio.html Statement by Charles Malik as Representative of Lebanon to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly on the Universal Declaration, 6 November 1948] ]

[16] , [ [http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/eleanorrooseveltdeclarationhumanrights.htm Eleanor Roosevelt: Address to the United Nations General Assembly] ] 10 December 1948.

[17] Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan (March 1989, US Department of State Bulletin)

[18] http://web.archive.org/web/20060501234759/http://mypage.bluewin.ch/ameland/Islam.html] On 30 June 2000, Muslim nations that are members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference [http://www.oic-oci.org/ Organisation of The Islamic Conference ] ]

[19]  [http://capmag.com/article.asp?ID=210 Capitalism Magazine – United Nations Declaration of Human Rights Destroys Individual Rights] Retrieved 22 June 2006.]

[20]  [http://www.objectivistcenter.org/cth–1297-Right_To_Health_Care.aspx Right To Health Care ] ]