What Are Human Rights? (17): Interdependent

Poverty must not be a bar to learning and learning must offer an escape from poverty. Lyndon B. Johnson

Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right…. Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential. Kofi Annan

The right to education (article 26 of the Universal Declaration) and the right not to suffer poverty (article 25) are examples of the interdependence of human rights. A good education helps people to escape poverty, and a good standard of living helps people to get an education. Of course, this works also the other way around: when suffering from poverty, it’s hard to educate yourself, and without education it’s hard to escape poverty.

Here’s a quote by another “Johnson”:

Resolve not to be poor: whatever you have, spend less. Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult. Samuel Johnson

This is another example of interdependence. The absence of poverty is a prerequisite for the exercise of political freedom and participation. Material circumstances can be such that freedom of opinion or the right to political participation is difficult to use. Moreover, in this case it is almost impossible to use freedom and participation in order to improve your material circumstances. However, ou do not have to claim or participate in politics on your own behalf. You can claim rights (for example economic rights) or participate in politics on behalf of somebody else, someone who finds it difficult to do so himself.

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11 thoughts on “What Are Human Rights? (17): Interdependent”

  1. […] Private property is a means to protect the private space. Without private property, without your own house or your own place in the world, and without your own intimate and personal things, it is obviously more difficult to have a private life. The four walls of your private house protect you against the public. Without private property, there is no private world (another example of the indivisibility and interdependence of human rights). […]

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