The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights


A new book from Human Rights and the Drug War:

Human Rights and the US Drug War

A treatise to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the
UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

By Chris Conrad, Mikki Norris, and Virginia Resner

72 pages. Only $5.95 + shipping. To order, click here

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the UN in 1948 as a response to the Nazi holocaust and to set a standard by which the human rights activities of all nations, rich and poor alike, are to be measured.

(Selected excerpts and analysis)

Click here for UN link to full text

Preamble: Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of the freedom, justice and peace in the world.

Whereas it is essentialthat human rights should be protected by the rule of law.

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Now, therefore The General Assembly proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.

American civil rights as put forth by the
United States Constitution & the Bill of Rights

The Promise of the American Republic

Anybody can have their life destroyed"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall deem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

- American Declaration of Independence, 1776

Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 5

"No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."


The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution also protects prisoners against cruel and unusual punishment, specifically banning excessive bail and fines.


The Drug War has created Draconian prison sentences and asset forfeitures that are disproportionate to the offense. Federal mandatory minimum sentences put first-time, nonviolent, low-level drug offenders in prison for five, 10, 20 years or even life, without parole - often for longer terms than violent criminals convicted of murder, rape or robbery, felons who are eligible for parole. Urine testing without probable cause is an insidious example of degrading treatment that has become a familiar routine in American schools and the corporate work place.


Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 10

"Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him."


The Constitution guarantees a jury trial, both in criminal cases (Sixth Amendment) and in common law civil suits involving a value over $20 (Seventh Amendment).


Sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimum penalty laws tie judges hands when it comes to dispensing justice. Physical evidence is replaced with exaggerated estimates. In a group offense, each person is liable for the whole amount instead of their actual level of involvement. Back room plea bargaining has replaced public hearings. Furthermore, under federal civil asset forfeiture law, a person's entire life savings can be seized, without a prior hearing, and without even being charged with a crime. If the property has a value of less than $500,000 it can be forfeited administratively, without any judicial proceedings unless the owner posts a cost bond. Even if he pays the cost bond, the owner can still be deprived of the right to a jury trial through summary judgment, if the judge is not satisfied with the amount of proof he submits on paper. Since most judges have come up the ranks as hard-nosed prosecutors, they are often biased against the accused.


Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 11.1

"Everyone charged with a penal offense has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to the law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense."


The Fifth Amendment further adds the right to a speedy trial and right to legal counsel and forbids the use of secret witnesses by requiring their testimony in court.


In Drug War criminal cases, anonymous informants can reduce or work off charges and even receive payment and commissions to provide "evidence" for search warrants, and lawyers refer to a de facto "drug war exception" to the Bill of Rights. Police use entrapment to lure people to break the law under a system that creates a conflict of interest due to the seizure of property for law enforcement use. These problems are compounded by prosecutorial misconduct, vague and overly broad conspiracy charges, changes of venue, biased judicial instructions, limits placed on defense evidence and motivation, etc.


Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 12

"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."


The Fourth Amendment protects the people from "unreasonable searches and seizures" by requiring that "no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."


In recent years, people in the U.S. have suffered increasing intrusions on their privacy, including phone taps, invasive urine testing, infra-red scanning of homes, garbage and mail searches, computer searches of bank records and utility bills. Employees are routinely subjected to random urine testing, with neither probable cause nor warrant, as a job requirement. Police sweep neighborhoods and block public roadways to search people, sometimes with dogs. If your appearance fits one of the stereotypical "profiles," you may be singled out for special harassment. Having $100 cash on your person is all it takes for police to seize your money as suspected drug income, even when you can prove otherwise. And when warrants are still issued, they are often based on hearsay evidence, high-tech surveillance and monitoring systems even the amount of electricity a home or business uses in a month or gauge the amount of heat it gives off.


Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 16.3

"The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state."

The Fourth Amendment lists "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects".


What happens to the children when narcotics police take the family car and home, and send Mommy and Daddy to prison for decades at a time under mandatory minimum sentences? How does it affect children to see their parents tied up face down on the floor while armed men in dark suits tear the house apart? How can a person support their family from prison, financially or emotionally? How can an inner city community survive with a quarter of its adult male population stigmatized by a criminal record? Indeed, the family is a primary target of the Drug War.


Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 17.2

"No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property."


The US Constitution Fifth Amendment also promises that
no American shall be "deprived of life, liberty, or property,
without due process of law".


Under US civil asset forfeiture laws, police agencies and informants get to keep the proceeds of their confiscations. Inherent conflicts of interest arise from forfeiture laws. Property of innocent parties has often been seized by police agencies without even a conviction. Forfeiture victims do not have to be charged with a crime to lose their homes, cars or life savings. Often they are deprived of their right to trial. Although the US Supreme Court held in 1993 that disproportionate forfeitures are unconstitutional, the abuses continue. Arbitrary selection of suspects based on appearance (racially- and culturally-discriminatory drug courier profiles, such as ethnicity, hair length, political bumper stickers, etc.). Buying your garden supplies from a store under surveillance by police agencies can lead to a search of your home. In addition, the lines separating legal from illegal drugs is not based on scientific criterion (like demonstrable health effects) or objective standards (such as impairment or likelihood of inducing violent behavior), but rather on the arbitrary moralistic and political attitudes of elected officials and appointed bureaucrats. Anyone who enjoys the wrong kind of flowers or intoxicants may well find their property seized by the government, along with their children and personal liberty.


Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 18

"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."


The US Constitution First Amendment begins the Bill of Rights: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".


The government has prosecuted every effort to formulate and establish new religions that involve the use of mind expanding drugs. When Drug War zeal even infringed on the Native American Church by forbidding the use of peyote in its ceremonies, Congress created a special, narrow exemption for its practitioners through the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, but the Supreme Court in 1997 overturned the law. And what about other religions? The Drug War has effectively outlawed traditional cannabis-based religions such as the Rastafari, Coptic Christians, Sufi Moslem, Sadhu Hindu, etc. Members of these churches are singled out and prosecuted for practicing their religions by partaking of their sacraments. Frequently they are targeted for harassment, surveillance and entrapment, and courts routinely exclude any testimony or reference to their religious motives when "the facts" of a case are presented to a jury. Once members of a congregation are convicted felons, as a condition of parole after serving a prison sentence, they are forbidden to associate, congregate or worship together, or even remain in contact.


Universal Declaration on Human Rights Article 25.1

"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services."


US Constitution Ninth Amendment stipulates: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."


Hemp is a raw material used for at least 10,000 years for making food, clothing, housing, paper and other consumer goods. The U.S. once had laws requiring farmers to grow hemp, and Presidents Washington and Jefferson, among others, would today be sentenced to death for growing their acreage of this rugged and versatile crop. Every President since Franklin Roosevelt, including Bill Clinton in 1994, has listed hemp as an essential strategic material for the national defense. But it is illegal to grow here and all hemp must be imported. Banning hemp suppresses domestic jobs and enterprise in the hemp industries, at an estimated cost of a million jobs and tens of billions of dollars in business. The Drug War deprives patients of medical marijuana, an effective, natural healing agent. The Drug Enforcement Administration forbids health care professionals from administering or even recommending cannabis, even when they know it will help.


Universal Declaration on Human Rights Article 26

26.2: "Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for humans rights and fundamental freedoms.
It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship."

26.3: "Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children."


Federal drug policy is categorized as "zero tolerance," to be achieved through the stigmatization and criminalization of targeted individuals and lifestyles. The D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) anti-drug program brings police officers into grammar schools to talk to children about the private activities of parents and friends. Students are instructed not to take their workbook home. Plainclothes police infiltrate high schools and college campuses, engaging in sting operations. At least one officer even seduced a student to get information.

Monetary incentives of up to $100 are offered to students who snitch on fellow students, teaching them young that it pays to betray. But is that what schools are supposed to be teaching our children?


Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 27.1

"Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits."


"Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; of the right of the people peaceably to assemble," states the US Constitution First Amendment.


The Drug War targets specific subcultures identified as having an interest in illicit substances. The Rastafari, hippies, and musical fans of jazz, reggae, hip-hop, the Grateful Dead (known as Deadheads), and certain other persuasions are singled out for persecution. Police barricade the roadways leading to political rallies and annual events, such as the Rainbow Family Gathering. Participants are systematically harassed, intimidated and provoked by authorities instigating trouble. Similarly, political groups are infiltrated by police provocateurs who try to incite violence and undermine the legitimate activities of these organizations. People who take advantage of scientific advancements in the medical use of cannabis face criminal prosecution. The same bureaucrats who insist we need more research are the very ones who block such studies. Federal agencies such as National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) substitute propaganda for science to manipulate research data. They publish biased reports to prop up prohibition. Researchers who produce accurate data tend to have their funds cut and permits revoked. Those who support the Drug War with unsubstantiated theories of bizarre risks are likely to receive funding increases and gain easy access to news media and lawmakers. Long after spurious claims have been proven false, such as marijuana inducing "brain damage" and "male breasts," or LSD causing "chromosomal mutation," these hysterical charges continue to appear in government publications.


Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 8

"Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution
or by law."


The US Constitution First Amendment promises the right to
"petition the Govern
ment for a redress of grievances."

We hereby declare that the Drug War violates many of the most fundamental tenants of human rights, and call on the U.S. government and all international human rights agencies to review this record with an unbiased and objective eye on the human rights issued involved. Contingent with this investigation, we request an immediate remedy and redress of grievances through the release of those wrongly or unfairly imprisoned and the full restoration of human rights to all Americans.


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