Analysis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Analysis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights






Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights constitutes liberties pertaining to labor. It outlines privileges that should be accorded to workers. There are four sub articles, each with a unique description of a particular fundamental right with regard to employment. The first sub article dictates that everyone has the right to work, at their place of choice, and under fair conditions. Everyone should be protected from unemployment. The second sub article advocates for equal pay and work opportunities while the third is based on means of social protection granted to workers. The last sub article directs that employees be allowed to form and be members of trade unions. This paper analyses the achievement of these labor rights, using the United States as a case study. It points out the failure of America in implementing and ensuring that workers are protected from unfair labor practices. Various corporations have been reported as not complying with the international standards of labor. These specific civil liberties were mentioned in the Human Rights Watch World Report 2012 as one of the most violated among other human rights. Comparisons of the same are drawn from two countries, China and Australia. China has frequently come under sharp criticism of its labor law violations, particularly pertaining to the formation of workers’ unions. Australia, conversely, has enjoyed acclaim for being one of the best countries for one to work.



Analysis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Literature Review

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted in the years following the end of the Second World War. Their sole aim was to prevent the repeat of the atrocities witnessed during the war. The United Nations’ signatories abide by this document, resolving to preserve human rights within their specific jurisdictions. Implementation of these rights in whichever state should ensure lack of discrimination, by race, nationality, gender, or social status. There are various measures enacted to deal with member countries that violate these fundamental rights.

The USA offers high standards of living to its citizens in terms of benefits and opportunities. However, the same cannot be said about its labor situation. This is contrary to the opinion by many outside America that it is one of the best places to work and reside. According to the World Report 2012, American workers on many occasions have been denied their right to join trade unions. These unions are formed to protect a number of employees’ privileges and offer services such as representation during disputes and collective bargaining. A number of states placed harsh restrictions on collective bargaining, including Ohio, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Wisconsin. Sub article 4, article 23 of the universal declaration of human rights includes the liberty to join trade unions as part of fair labor laws (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 2013).

The United States often imposes sanctions on countries with whom they trade with due to their unfair labor practices. This contradicts its domestic situation where it has failed to intervene in the issue of workers’ unions. One of the major corporations in the country known for its anti-union policy is automobile company, Nissan. One of its plants in canton, Nissan North America, has recently dominated media reports due to allegations of its violation of international labor laws. Firsthand accounts from former and current workers have confirmed this situation. The company is alleged to have contributed to a non-union environment with threats and intimidation of workers. The Canton plant is an exception since the company has always maintained a cooperative approach to unions in their plants elsewhere around the globe (Mississippi autoworkers accuse Nissan of anti-union labor violations, 2013).

Sub article 2 advocates for equal pay for equivalent work. This means that employees should be paid according to the amount of work done without any discrimination. The United States has endured disparaging claims over its unfair treatment of women with regard to wage allocation (Equal Pay and the Wage Gap, 2013). Women in America continue to earn less than men do. This is despite the fact that they receive more graduate and college degrees than men do. According to research findings in 2010, female in full-time jobs earned only 77 cents for every dollar made by men. This accounted for a gender wage gap of 23 percent, the same experienced in 2011. A tracking system devised by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows that if this trend continues in the same pace as the past fifty years, it will take the same amount of time for the gender gap to be filled and for pay to be parity achieved. This notwithstanding, women face discrimination on the kind of jobs allocated them, even in circumstances where they possess the right qualifications. The last two decades have seen women delve into job areas that were the preserve of men in earlier years.

Breastfeeding accommodation is also not accorded to women at workplaces. This has negative consequences on working mothers who are forced to miss certain days in their work calendar. This phenomenon would be different if they were allowed maternity leave with payment. Employers show discrimination against workers with family responsibilities. The effects of this are detrimental to both mothers and their infants, for instance, it contributed to delays in babies’ immunizations and postpartum depression among others (World Report 2012: United States, 2012). Unpaid leave for mothers and other workers is a violation of the third sub article of article 23 in the universal declaration of human rights. Employees are entitled to forms of social protection such as fair remunerations.

Child workers are prevalent in American farms. Children who are supposed to be enjoying their childhood, and going to school among other activities are subjected to farm work. They are made to work strenuous hours under hazardous conditions. The health risks associated with the conditions at these farms are numerous. They include heat illnesses, death, pesticide poisoning and lifelong disabilities. Many of these underage workers are of Latin American descent, which points at the unfair labor practices governing immigrants. American labor rights are discriminative of non Native Americans. The allocation of jobs as indicated in various research findings is secured based on race. This implies that white Americans dominate most workplaces, with the law being implemented unfairly against immigrants. The study also shows that race is also used to determine the type of job allotted to employees.

The United States clearly lags behind in the implementation of labor rights of international standard. Millions of workers are put at risk by weak laws, made present by the failure of the respective institutions to uphold human rights. As one of the main developed countries of the world, many expect the United States to lead by example. Trade sanctions placed on countries that rely on their exports could as well be implemented within its borders (2011 ILRF Annual Report, 2012). Although the country cannot be compared to China, which constantly fuels global outrage, it can certainly borrow from policies in Australia.

China has one of the toughest anti-union regimes worldwide. The country has one trade union that operates nationally. This is because the Chinese central government is against independent labor unions. The All China Federation of Trade Unions is the only representative of its workers. This has continued to impede workers rights from being enacted. Lack of substantive trade unions in China has affected worker’s wages and employment conditions. So severe is the situation that any plan to form an alliance of workers is quelled by the government using dubious means. The working environment for many workers in China is, therefore deplorable since employees may be subjected to harsh conditions yet they have no one to represent them. The national union is subject to frequent government interference.

Poor working conditions for migrant employees are perhaps the most infamous of labor violations in china. Despite being accorded menial jobs, their wages are very low and the environment equally poor. This is an infringement of the right to work in a place of one’s choice. Migrant workers are denied any form of social protection; hence, they cannot afford to live dignifying lives. In addition, such workers are subject to long working hours, with time cards tracking the workers. This is a method used to ensure that workers do not laze around. Migrant workers are made to work extreme overtime hours, which are not compensated, with good pay. These conditions have driven many employees to the brink of despair leading to death. Recent times have witnessed reports of suicide among workers of factories in China. An example is Foxconn, one of Apple’s manufacturing plants, which has reported a number of suicides caused by poor working conditions.

Chinese labor laws have come under scrutiny for their inefficiency in implementing rights on employee wages. The country has a large economy based on manufacturing, a factor that contributes to overcrowding in work areas. Many industries have too many workers and catering for their needs proves to be a problem. The working environment is also affected by this, making conditions poor. The presence of many transnational companies in China has led to increased competition, which has driven down wages and costs. The right of equal pay for an equivalent amount of work is violated in such situations.

Australia, conversely, is always praised for its low tolerance for abusing labor rights. Numerous surveys name Australia as one of the best countries to live and work, with thousands of migrants attesting to the same. Workers in Australia work for fewer hours annually than the actual recommended time. This enables employees to spend more time with their families and in doing other activities. Furthermore, the gender gap concerning job allocation is almost nonexistent. Gender equality is observed strictly, when applicants are submitting their applications. Good working conditions have been attributed to the high number of migrants in the country. The country has efficiently upheld the rights of workers in accordance with the universal declaration of human rights.

The United States is a major player in global politics. This status enables it to influence many events and policies, including implementation of human rights. However, it should center its efforts on averting human rights abuse within its jurisdiction before exercising their authority on others. The infringement of labor rights is rampant in America and the existence of weak labor laws have failed to reverse the situation. The wellbeing of workers in the United States is dependent on adherence to labor laws, both domestic and international. Human rights are at the core of the enactment of these laws. Being signatory to the United Nations, the United States should thus comply with the privileges enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights.






2011 ILRF Annual Report. (2012). International Labor Rights Forum. Retrieved from

Equal Pay and the Wage Gap. (2013). National Women’s Law Center. Retrieved from

Mississippi autoworkers accuse Nissan of anti-union labor violations. (2013). Aljazeera America. Retrieved from

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (2013). United Nations. Retrieved from

World Report 2012: United States. (2012). Human Rights Watch. Retrieved from





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