Declaration of 1789 & Universal Human Rights
On July 4, 1776 Continental Congress adopted the “Declaration of Independence” declaring thirteen states as sovereign; even though they were at war with Britain. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the declaration had interacted with General Lafayette during the American Revolutionary War as the General was serving in the Continental Army for America. General Lafayette was also one of the key figure behind the “Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen“. However, like Thomas Jefferson, it was Emmanuel Sieyes who was considered to be another important figure who contributed majority of the content of their final Declaration. This declaration focuses on the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity which was highly influenced by the “Declaration of Independence” of America. It was passed by the France’s National Constituent Assembly in August 1789.
Among the 17 brief articles, Article 1 states, “Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good.” It emphasizes on the freedom & equality of individuals from the point of the view of their rights. It is an important statement which goes against the typical structure of the European society of that time and paved the way for greater “social equality” in modern time. Article 2 and 4 emphasized on the security of men and their rights to resist oppression along with preserving the right of others as long as one’s right doesn’t harms others. Article 5 and 7 ensures the security of the society and individuals through establishing the rule of law. Article 10 and 11 promotes free speech and the practice of religion based on individual’s own preferences. Taxation & Voting rights of the citizens were confirmed by the Article 13 and 14.
As we go through all the articles mentioned on the declaration, we can see that a great deal of importance has been given on the rights of the “Third Estate” or to the masses at large. It not only ensures the rights of men but also makes sure that everyone enjoys the same freedom while maintaining the rule of law with the representation of the citizens. Thus this declaration becomes one of most important document that proposes universal human rights even in modern time.