— 20 Human Obligations —
Your human rights were first catalogued in 1948 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This Declaration notes in Article 29 that human beings have obligations towards the community. Yet the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not spell out these duties.
To fill this void, 'Ethics for the New Millennium' brings together Twenty Human Obligations, based on overlapping ethical norms found in different cultures and religions. Human obligations are the social capital that allows you and others a fuller enjoyment of human rights. Help to build up that capital of goodwill and compassion. What goes around comes around.
- Obtain an education so that you can function properly in society and form your own critical judgement.
- Take care of yourself to the best of your ability - do not live at he expense of others unless forced to by circumstances beyond your control.
- Accept responsibility for the consequences of your action and inaction.
- Make yourself useful in society and reinforce the community's security, freedom, justice, and order by assuming your part in public life to the best of your ability.
- Help support the weak and needy members of the community who cannot adequately defend or provide for themselves or their families.
- Earn your living through honest and fair means, not through aggression, violence, coercion, corruption, theft, or fraud.
Toward the state
- Obey just and valid laws of the land, insist that authorities do the same, and sea redress if they do not.
- Protect public property and contribute to its maintenance by paying taxes and offering public services.
- Be loyal to the state and defend its legitimate interests against internal and external threats, as long as the state acts in the common interest and respects the international law.
Toward your family
- Nourish, protect, and educate your children until they of an age to take their own places in society.
- Provide the necessities of life to your spouse and other members of your family if they cannot provide for themselves.
- Respect and care for your parents, brothers, and sisters, who should treat you with mutual respect and care.
Toward all human beings
- Treat others as you would want them to treat you - as equals who deserve respect, not discrimination or exploitation.
- Respect the values and beliefs of others, and tolerate their ways of life, as you would have them respect and tolerate yours - but remember you do not have to accept practices that infringe on fundamental human rights.
- Help people in acute danger, distress, or need as much as you can, without becoming a martyr.
- Do not jeopardize the lives or safety of others and do not remove or destroy that which is not yours, except in cases of individual or collective self-defense.
- Undo harm you have done to others as much as you can.
Toward the earth
- Respect humankind's historical and cultural heritage- preserve relics from the past and works of art from theft and destruction.
- Protect the air you berate and the water you drink as well as the sea, land, and forests you share as common property with other living creatures.
- Preserve and improve the environment in ways that will help insure the continued survival and well-being of the multitude of life forms that share the planet Earth.
This catalogue of human obligations was compiled by Prof. Alex P. Schmid on the basis of answers from all over the world to a questionnaire (cf. PIOOM Newsletter & Progress Report, Vol.5, No.1, pp.11-14). c Schmid/ Robert 2012