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Human Rights: Dignity, Freedom and Justice for All

Surely it is difficult to list the situations that contribute/co-occur to the inequality gap, but what unites everything and underlines the need for reflection are the many characteristics that can place someone/some group in vulnerability and social disadvantage.

Carlos Barros

10th of December marks the International Human Rights Day. This day marks the official recognition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations Organisation (UNO) in 1948.

This year, the UN invites us to reflect on the concepts of Dignity, Freedom and the need for Justice for All .[1]

I consider that it is necessary for us to define each term before we move on to a joint reflection.

Briefly defined, Dignity can be considered as a moral quality that infuses respect and respectability; a dignifiedway of proceeding; and also the awareness of one’s own value[2].

In turn, Freedom, especially in a more personal and microsystemic construction, may be considered as the right that any citizen possess to act without coercion or obstacle, although within the limits of the law; the capacity of the human being to choose autonomously, according to reasons defined by his/her conscience; perhaps, summing it up: free will[3] .

Finally, Justice is a moral principle or virtue that inspires respect for the rights of each person and the attribution of what is due to each Human Being[4].

Surely it is difficult to list the situations that contribute/co-occur to the inequality gap, but what unites everything and underlines the need for reflection are the many characteristics that can place someone/some group in vulnerability and social disadvantage by depriving them of Freedom and Justice, consequently leading to the disrespect of Human Dignity.

Whether based on race-ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, health status or socio-economic status, among others, we know that this cycle of exclusion is intersectional[5]. That is to say, usually disadvantaged people “add” characteristics that put them more at risk and invisibility. It is important to be aware of the multiplicity of historical and social factors when designing policies and projects that enable equity in all spheres[6].

Of course we cannot subtract responsibility from states/nations. They must ALWAYS safeguard Human Rights and the sovereignty that is the Dignity of each person. This text serves, however, to alert us that the changes are in all directions and must start with us.

Functionally I suggest two steps:

First, establish empathy. Only when we see the life of the “other” without judgement can we understand how to cooperate to create a cycle of integral and genuine development.

With this first step, we can move on to the second: solidarity. Solidarity can be established between generations in our family/ friends, in movements supporting social causes, welcoming those who appear to us throughout our lives with open hugs.

When in doubt, think: if it were me? How would you like them to act if it were a child or a relative?

* Cover Image Creative Commons License Type 

**Please find the portuguese version on the next page

**Por favor, aceda à próxima página para a versão portuguesa da publicação 


[1] https://www.un.org/en/observances/human-rights-day

[2] https://www.infopedia.pt/dicionarios/lingua-portuguesa/dignidade

[3] https://www.infopedia.pt/dicionarios/lingua-portuguesa/Liberdade

[4] https://www.infopedia.pt/dicionarios/lingua-portuguesa/justi%C3%A7a

[5] Crenshaw, K. W. (2017). On intersectionality: Essential writings. The New Press.

[6] Crenshaw, K. (2015). Why intersectionality can’t wait. The Washington Post, 24(09), 2015.



Citar este post
Carlos Barros (2022, 10 Dezembro). Human Rights: Dignity, Freedom and Justice for All. Desenvolvimento Humano Integral. Recuperado em 24 de Fevereiro de 2024, de https://doi.org/10.58079/nkvl

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