Report of the Commission on Unalienable Rights

   Released on July 16, 2020

The founding of basic, unalienable rights has long been part of our Founding Fathers’ Goals. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitutional Bill of Rights demands them, and as a young nation, many changes needed to be instituted along the way. As America expanded and flexed its international muscles, it also wanted to guide and direct other countries to consider the rights of their citizenry within their own boundaries.

A Universal Declaration of Human Rights was incorporated by the United Nations in 1948 after the ravages of WWII revealed the incomprehensible genocides and tortures of peoples across the European landscape. 

“The UDHR articles include “the right to life, liberty and security of person”; protection against slavery and torture; guarantees of equality before the law and of due process; recognition of the right to private property; and the enumeration of other rights necessary to the preservation of liberty in a constitutional democracy, such as freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; freedom of opinion and expression; freedom of association; freedom to take part in elections by universal and equal suffrage; and more.”

The U.S. Secretary of State has formed a commission to update and reiterated the United States positions’ and principals’, which were the primary foundation for the UDHR. As we recognize and insist on rights for others within the global sphere, we must ensure that we here in the U.S. are doing all we can to provide the same rights within our borders.

The following documentation contains direct quotes from the Department of State website announcing the commission and asking for opinions on the draft as it currently stands today.  We have included a few, but not all, the dialog associated and contained within this marvelous document.  If you would like to read more, here is the link to the website:

“On July 8, 2019, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo announced the formation of a Commission on Unalienable Rights. The commission, composed of academics, philosophers, and activists, will provide the Secretary with advice on human rights grounded in our nation’s founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“In short, human rights are now misunderstood by many, manipulated by some, rejected by the world’s worst violators, and subject to ominous new threats.

“Unalienable rights provide a standard by which positive rights and positive law can be judged, while positive rights and positive law make the promise of unalienable rights concrete by giving expression to and instantiating unalienable rights. This can be seen in the American political tradition: the unalienable rights proclaimed in the Declaration are secured by the Constitution, which is the work of a particular people.

“Rights, whether unalienable or positive, do not exist in a vacuum. They imply responsibilities, beginning with the responsibility to respect the rights of others. Rights, moreover, incline us to community, since they govern our relations with fellow human beings and are best protected and most effectively exercised in civil society.

“As circumstances change, Americans will continue to debate the scope and implications of America’s grounding in, and dedication to, unalienable rights. This vital discussion about what kind of people and nation we wish to become predates the country’s founding and is a key source of the American rights tradition’s dynamism. As it has since its ratification almost 250 years ago, the Constitution continues to secure the rights that enable the American people to address enduring controversies about how to assess new rights claims, and how to manage tensions among and competing interpretations of existing rights that mark a free and self-governing people.

“Today, various social policies framed as rights in the UDHR are central to the responsibilities of government in the United States at all levels. For example, although education is not recognized as a right in the U.S. Constitution, the constitutions of nearly every state of the union incorporate the right to education and place significant responsibility in public authorities to ensure the effective exercise of that right. Other major social policies at both federal and state levels that mesh with the language of the UDHR include guarantees of equal pay for equal work, the social protection of children, the prior right of parents to choose their children’s education, and the inclusion of people with disabilities in public life and in the workplace.

“The framers also knew that keeping the list more tightly circumscribed would accord higher political importance to each of the rights and would reduce the conflicts among rights claims, conflicts that could dilute the realization of any particular right and of rights in general. These concerns are highly relevant 70 years later, when the number of human rights instruments has multiplied dramatically. Taking into account the many different UN agencies, regional human rights systems, as well as specialized organizations like the International Labor Organization and UNESCO, there are now dozens of treaties, hundreds of resolutions and declarations, and thousands of provisions codifying individual human rights beyond those contained in the nine best-known UN human rights treaties. There is good reason to worry that the prodigious expansion of human rights has weakened rather than strengthened the claims of human rights and left the most disadvantaged more vulnerable. More rights do not always yield more justice. Transforming every worthy political preference into a claim of human rights inevitably dilutes the authority of human rights.”

To hear and read the statement that the Secretary of State and others stated at the presentation, here is the link that will take you to that day.

As Eleanor Roosevelt put it on the tenth anniversary of the UDHR:

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

This is so true even today. And if our rights are trampled on locally, within our own communities and states, we will lose faith in our government and we must elect people who will ensure that our freedoms, guaranteed by the Constitution, will prevail!