ARTICLE 21 — RIGHT TO DEMOCRACY
“1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
“2. Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country.
“3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”
In Zimbabwe, hundreds of human rights defenders and members of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), were arrested for participating in peaceful gatherings.
In Pakistan, thousands of lawyers, journalists, human rights defenders and political activists were arrested for demanding democracy, the rule of law and an independent judiciary.
In Cuba, at the end of 2007, sixty two prisoners of conscience remained incarcerated for their nonviolent political views or activities.
Human rights exist, as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the entire body of international human rights law. They are recognized—at least in principle—by most nations and form the heart of many national constitutions. Yet the actual situation in the world is far distant from the ideals envisioned in the Declaration.
To some, the full realization of human rights is a remote and unattainable goal. Even international human rights laws are difficult to enforce and pursuing a complaint can take years and a great deal of money. These international laws serve as a restraining function but are insufficient to provide adequate human rights protection, as evidenced by the stark reality of abuses perpetrated daily.
Discrimination is rampant throughout the world. Thousands are in prison for speaking their minds. Torture and politically motivated imprisonment, often without trial, are commonplace, condoned and practiced—even in some democratic countries.
But you can make a difference. Become informed by reading the reports on human rights around the world.
Purchase copies of The Story of Human Rights booklets from our online bookstore, to distribute in your local area and to those you know, as well as within your local government.