Article 17 and Article 18 don’t really flow on from each other. Article 17 is all about property rights and Article 18 is all about freedom of religion.. so I’m really gonna have to treat each one seperately!
So Article 17 says:
(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
which to be fair isn’t less important than any of the others! In fact the extensive amount of work that Amnesty has done on forced evictions would definitely definitely say otherwise. My point was merely that is is one of those no-brainer articles. Of course you can’t arbitrarily deprive someone of their property. This seems like a lesson that we should’ve all learnt in pre-school. But like always, we hold our children to higher standards than we expect society to act. While we yell at little Tommy for snatching a toy from little Jimmy, we turn a blind eye when the Cambodian government kicked out Mai from her home, five months pregnant, and burnt everything she owned. (link below)
Article 18 is one that is quite close to my heart:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
I’m a self-confessed agnostic (prefer the term Pastafarian however, see my earlier post on the subject – link below), but like a lot of the human rights violations and abuses that don’t affect me personally, I will work hard to ensure that YOU have your rights. I don’t care either way what religion you choose to follow (although if you are hurting other people, or innocents like children… ) but I will help fight for your right to choose that religion. That is what Article 18 says, basically, you can do whatever you want in public or in private…
What I do have a problem with is when your right to choose starts to hurt other people. What’s The Harm has a giant list of all the times that people have chosen religious solutions instead of perhaps a scientific or a medical solution and caused innocent children to die. So yes, do whatever YOU want, but allow others (including YOUR CHILDREN) to choose just like how we allow YOU to choose.
Sorry, have strayed into CAPSLOCK territory a few too many times in that last paragraph, but as you can tell, these things get me hot under the collar!
- As always, the full text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Amnesty NZ’s work on Forced Evictions
- Read my previous thoughts on pastafarianism and the mocking of religion
- What’s The Harm – when someone says “what’s the harm in believing in XYZ”