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The Rights of Man in the World Community: Constitutional Illusions Versus Rational Action (with Gertrude C. K. Leighton), 14 Law & Contemporary Problems 490 (1949)


It is only from a perspective of centuries that the United Nations program for "human rights" can be accurately observed or rationally appraised. This program, too often thought to be at the periphery of the purposes of the United Nations, represents in fact the main core of rational objectives not only of the United Nations but of all democratic government. It represents the converging and integration on a global scale of many movements, movements hitherto restricted in areal diffusion but centuries-old and rooted deep in universal human nature and civilized culture. It is heir to all the great historic democratic movements—for constitutionalism, freedom, equality, fraternity, humanitarianism, liberalism, enlightenment, peace, opportunity, and so on It is the contemporary culmination of man's long struggle for all his basic human values:

for participation in the processes by which he is governed, equality before the law, and that wide sharing of power, both formal and real, which we call democracy;

for sanctity of person, for freedom from arbitrary restraints and cruel and inhuman punishments, and for positive opportunity to develop latent talents for the enrichment and well-being of personality;

for the enlightenment by which rational decisions can be made and for freedom of inquiry and opinion;

for that fundamental respect for human dignity which both precludes discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion, political opinion, or other ground irrelevant to capacity and provides positive recognition of common merit as a human being and special merit as an individual;

for access to resources to produce the goods and services necessary to maintain rising standards of living and comfort;

for acquisition of the skills necessary to express talent and to achieve individual and community values to the fullest;

for freedom to explain life, the universe, and values, to fix standards of rectitude, and to worship God or gods as may seem best;

for affection, fraternity, and congenial personal relationships in groups freely chosen;

for, in sum, a security which includes not only freedom from violence and threats of violence but also full opportunity to preserve and increase all values by peaceful, noncoercive procedures.

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