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A Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities (InterAction Council, 1997)


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of
all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in
the world and implies obligations or responsibilities,
whereas the exclusive insistence on rights can result in conflict, division, and endless
dispute, and the neglect of human responsibilities can lead to lawlessness and chaos,
whereas the rule of law and the promotion of human rights depend on the readiness of
men and women to act justly,
whereas global problems demand global solutions which can only be achieved
through ideas, values, and norms respected by all cultures and societies,
whereas all people, to the best of their knowledge and ability, have a responsibility to
foster a better social order, both at home and globally, a goal which cannot be
achieved by laws, prescriptions, and conventions alone,
whereas human aspirations for progress and improvement can only be realized by
agreed values and standards applying to all people and institutions at all times,

Now, therefore,
The General Assembly
proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities as a common
standard for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every
organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall contribute to the
advancement of communities and to the enlightenment of all their members. We, the
peoples of the world thus renew and reinforce commitments already proclaimed in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights: namely, the full acceptance of the dignity of
all people; their inalienable freedom and equality, and their solidarity with one
another. Awareness and acceptance of these responsibilities should be taught and
promoted throughout the world.

Fundamental Principles for Humanity

Article 1

Every person, regardless of gender, ethnic origin, social status, political opinion,
language, age, nationality, or religion, has a responsibility to treat all people in a
humane way.

Article 2

No person should lend support to any form of inhumane behavior, but all people have
a responsibility to strive for the dignity and self-esteem of all others.

Article 3

No person, no group or organization, no state, no army or police stands above good
and evil; all are subject to ethical standards. Everyone has a responsibility to
promote good and to avoid evil in all things.

Article 4

All people, endowed with reason and conscience, must accept a responsibility to each
and all, to families and communities, to races, nations, and religions in a spirit of
solidarity: What you do not wish to be done to yourself, do not do to others.

Non-Violence and Respect for Life

Article 5

Every person has a responsibility to respect life. No one has the right to injure, to
torture or to kill another human person. This does not exclude the right of justified
self-defense of individuals or communities.

Article 6

Disputes between states, groups or individuals should be resolved without violence.
No government should tolerate or participate in acts of genocide or terrorism, nor
should it abuse women, children, or any other civilians as instruments of war. Every
citizen and public official has a responsibility to act in a peaceful, non-violent way.

Article 7

Every person is infinitely precious and must be protected unconditionally. The
animals and the natural environment also demand protection. All people have a
responsibility to protect the air, water and soil of the earth for the sake of present
inhabitants and future generations.

Article 8

Every person has a responsibility to behave with integrity, honesty and fairness. No
person or group should rob or arbitrarily deprive any other person or group of their

Article 9

All people, given the necessary tools, have a responsibility to make serious efforts to
overcome poverty, malnutrition, ignorance, and inequality. They should promote
sustainable development all over the world in order to assure dignity, freedom,
security and justice for all people.

Article 10

All people have a responsibility to develop their talents through diligent endeavor;
they should have equal access to education and to meaningful work. Everyone should
lend support to the needy, the disadvantaged, the disabled and to the victims of

Article 11

All property and wealth must be used responsibly in accordance with justice and for
the advancement of the human race. Economic and political power must not be
handled as an instrument of domination, but in the service of economic justice and of
the social order.

Truthfulness and Tolerance

Article 12

Every person has a responsibility to speak and act truthfully. No one, however high
or mighty, should speak lies. The right to privacy and to personal and professional
confidentiality is to be respected. No one is obliged to tell all the truth to everyone all
the time.

Article 13

No politicians, public servants, business leaders, scientists, writers or artists are
exempt from general ethical standards, nor are physicians, lawyers and other
professionals who have special duties to clients. Professional and other codes of
ethics should reflect the priority of general standards such as those of truthfulness and

Article 14

The freedom of the media to inform the public and to criticize institutions of society
and governmental actions, which is essential for a just society, must be used with
responsibility and discretion. Freedom of the media carries a special responsibility for
accurate and truthful reporting. Sensational reporting that degrades the human person
or dignity must at all times be avoided.

Article 15

While religious freedom must be guaranteed, the representatives of religions have a
special responsibility to avoid expressions of prejudice and acts of discrimination
toward those of different beliefs. They should not incite or legitimize hatred,
fanaticism and religious wars, but should foster tolerance and mutual respect between
all people.

Article 16

All men and all women have a responsibility to show respect to one another and
understanding in their partnership. No one should subject another person to sexual
exploitation or dependence. Rather, sexual partners should accept the responsibility
of caring for each other’s well-being.

Article 17

In all its cultural and religious varieties, marriage requires love, loyalty and
forgiveness and should aim at guaranteeing security and mutual support.

Article 18

Sensible family planning is the responsibility of every couple. The relationship
between parents and children should reflect mutual love, respect, appreciation and
concern. No parents or other adults should exploit, abuse or maltreat children.


Article 19

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any state, group or
person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the
destruction of any of the responsibilities, rights and freedom set forth in this
Declaration and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

Source: A Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities


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