Today, we study the role of developments in French community in emergence of freedom-seeking thoughts in the US and their part in formation of human rights charter.
As a reminder, it was said that the Renaissance Movement led to major developments in the views of European people. In this manner, the developments in French community set the stage for freedom-seeking views in the US.
The development of thoughts in the US in 18th Century ultimately led this colony to take a major stride for attainment of its independence and freedom through maintenance of its unity. On July 4, 1776 AD, the Congress in the State of Boston, on behalf of thirteen colonies, and in an uprising against the rule and domination of Britain, unanimously approved the Declaration of Independence; according to which colonies decided to sever ties with England, thereby manifesting their wholehearted belief in human dignity and democracy.
The Declaration of Independence partly states a number of human rights which put emphasis on the principles of equality, right of existence, and freedom. Meanwhile, attainment of these rights is tied to achievement and maintenance of independence and liberation from the yoke of colonialism. The US Declaration of Independence can be considered as a source of inspiration for the Constitutions of twelve initial US states.
Throughout the 18th Century, France was a country with a number of social classes; namely the noblemen, clerics, and the third class. In this country, in those days, there was a minority, consisting of two classes, which possessed half of France’s soil, in addition to all palaces and luxurious buildings, wielding a significant power, while the majority of people comprised of workers, farmers, peasants, and priests, were mired in poverty, and were exploited by the ruling minority. Under these catastrophic conditions, the freedom-seeking views against despotism laid the ground for emergence of a revolution, based on the three mottos of freedom, equality, and fraternity. Meanwhile, standing up against the monarchy in France was not possible via ordinary and peaceful approaches. A number of lawyers, physicians, bankers, and authors who had achieved vigilance, believed that staging an uprising and revolution was the only option for termination of the then suppressive monarchic system in France. In general, ideological development and enlightenment of the middle class, on one hand, and injustices, pillage of treasury, and the need of courtiers to impose taxes on the third stratum set the stage for the French Revolution. Under these critical circumstances, the then French monarch, Louis the 16th, ordered the establishment of the class-based parliament, which had been suspended for 175 years. The related parliamentarians were comprised of 661 representatives of the third stratum; 326 representatives of clerics, and 330 representatives of noblemen.
The representatives of the third party believed that happiness and welfare should not be monopolized by a minority and prosperity and welfare belongs to everyone, from all walks of life. Meanwhile, after completion of a number of phases, on June 17, 1789, the representatives of the third stratum with an overwhelming number of votes announced the establishment of national parliament. Meanwhile, on June 23, Louis the 16th issued an order for dissolution of the national parliament, which led to the opposition of the parliament and a number of clerics, who declared they would carry on and would not quit. Upon the emergence of this revolutionary state, the then French monarch gave in. Ultimately, on July 9, the national parliament announced its establishment. On August 4, the French national parliament terminated the monarchic system in that country.
The French Declaration of Human Rights, which was accepted as the prelude to French Constitution a few years later, is a historical document on the rights of people, their equality before the law, and freedom of expression and speech. Based on this document, accusation and incarceration of individuals without compliance by the rules and regulations, is forbidden. Moreover, the Declaration of Human Rights discusses terms of taxation, establishment of government, and right of ownership, in addition to a number of other topics of importance.
Upon the fall of absolute monarchy, and establishment of national sovereignty, the first Constitution of France was approved by the national parliament on September 3, 1791. This Constitution guaranteed the natural rights of individuals. In the Constitution which was approved on June 24, 1793 AD, thirty-five articles were allocated to Declaration of Human Rights.
Meanwhile, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was approved by the UN General Assembly in the year 1948 AD is a developed copy of the French Declaration of Human Rights.
Despite these measures, the issue of human rights was at least not placed on the global political agenda prior to break out of World War II.
The 20th Century, especially the break out of World War I, and World War II, and related political disputes, highly impacted the fate of human rights in the international arena and within countries.
The massacre of millions of innocent civilians by Germans amid World War II, led many to believe that effective protection of human rights is a must for attainment of global peace and progress.
The former US President, Franklin Roosevelt, in his message to US Congress in January 1941, stated and introduced four kinds of freedom. On August 1941, the then US president, and the then British premier, Winston Churchill, prepared and set the Charter of Atlantic within the framework of a joint statement, which elaborated on the principles and policies that should have been enforced after the establishment of peace, so that the international community would be able to live far from any fear or need. These concepts were set to be included in UN Charter.
On June 26, 1945, the UN Charter was signed in San Francisco, and became binding on October 24, 1945. Based on this charter, an international organization named the United Nations was founded as a center for coordination of efforts for the purpose of maintenance of global peace and security, in a bid to prevent any war and invasion, to develop amicable ties, and to respect human rights and freedoms. The first meeting of the UN General Assembly was convened in London on January 10, 1946, in the presence of 51 member states.
Thereafter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was approved by the UN General Assembly, on December 10, 1948, in the presence of 56 member states.
Given that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights did not maintain a binding aspect, its contents were approved within the framework of two treaties by the UN General Assembly on December 16, 1966, with an overwhelming majority of votes.