| THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Aung San Suu Kyi
A society that lacks human rights is a society that breeds misery. If I am ever asked why I am an advocate of human rights, I would like to answer that I simply do not like seeing so much human misery around me. There are many people today whose lives have been blighted by the sense of insecurity and helplessness common to those who are at the mercy of the whims of unjust, authoritarian rulers. People need to be protected against the misuse of power. The articles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights are aimed at providing this all-important protection for all the peoples of the world.
In the aftermath of World War II, already-established powers and young nations newly emerged from the colonial chrysalis gathered to lay out a set of principles that would protect future generations from the scourge of violent conflict. Burma was one of the original signatories of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights when it was adopted by the United Nations in December 1948. But sadly, more than fifty years later, the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights still remain paper promises to many peoples and nations.
Coming as I do from Burma, a country that suffers from the systematic violation of human rights by those in power, I deeply appreciate the wisdom and vision of those who drew up the articles of the Declaration. There is not one article that we can choose to ignore without imperiling freedom, justice, and peace. If we are to lead free and full lives, all the articles of the Declaration must be respected.
The preamble of the Declaration proclaims that the “advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want” is the “highest aspiration of the common people.” It is also the most basic need for all, regardless of race, religion, or nationality.
Our struggle for human rights has brought us very close to all members of the human family who are striving for the recognition of their inherent dignity and their inalienable right to life, liberty, and security of person. It is my hope that our common aims and sufferings will create a strong sense of solidarity that transcends national borders and cultural differences. We struggle with a sense of purpose and an unshakable faith in the power of compassion, endeavor, and universal brotherhood. As our gratitude goes out to those who have so generously supported us in our times of adversity, we would like to express the hope that one day, our country may also be a source of strength and support for those in need of peace, justice, and freedom.
---- in Aung San Suu Kyi, Foreword to The Human Rights Enciclopedia.