Main Principles of Magna Carta

May 5, 2021 by Essay Writer

National 6.1.4

As stated by President Franklin Roosevelt, “Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them.” The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted for a similar purpose as Magna Carta but it cannot be described as the “Magna Carta of the Future.” There are clear similarities between the rights contained in both documents such as Magna Carta’s right of due process being echoed in Article 7 of the UDHR.

However, Magna Carta and the UDHR were written under different circumstances and affect the world differently. English barons drafted Magna Carta in 1215 in order to protect their generation from the continuous abuse from King John. The UDHR was drafted by a formal committee and presented to the United Nations General Assembly and countries of the United Nations were not forced to sign it as King John was forced to sign Magna Carta. The UDHR was written to protect future generations from the atrocities against fundamental human rights witnessed during World War II.

Both Magna Carta and the UDHR were written with positive rights. Magna Carta is more similar to the U.S. Bill of Rights because the rights listed in both are intended to create a constitutional government. The UDHR on the other hand is not treated as higher law. We believe that because Congress has chosen not to ratify the UDHR America has no obligation to abide by the UDHR. So although Eleanor Roosevelt intended for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to influence legislation, such as Magna Carta has influenced the United States, it has instead been treated as aspirational goals for the 48 signing countries.

According to President Dwight Eisenhower, “The clearest way to show what the rule of law means to us in everyday life is to recall what has happened when there is no rule of law.” Article 6 of the UDHR describes that everyone is recognized as a person under the law, which was established in Magna Carta. All three documents also require government through contract. John Locke’s Social Contract allows for society to leave the state of nature by agreeing to the form of government. The UDHR expands John Locke’s theory by stating in Articles 13 that if you do not agree with the government contract you have a the right to leave any country. Magna Carta also set the precedent for due process under the law, which can be found in the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution but is also described in Articles 10 and 11 of the UDHR. The unalienable right of liberty is not only a cornerstone of American politics but is also reflected in Article 41 of Magna Carta and Article 13 of the UDHR. The freedoms found in the First Amendment are also described in more detail in Articles 18, 19, and 20 of the UDHR. The UDHR reflects the Bill of Rights most clearly, however it often changes the wording to encompass a more diverse group such as the combination of the 6th and 7th Amendment into Article 10 of the UDHR.

We do not believe that there are many rights that should become Amendments because already the UDHR draws a strong parallel to the Constitution and US legislation. For example, Article 26 of the UDHR states that “everyone has the right to an education,” and in the case of Plyler v. Doe, 1981, the Supreme Court determined that Texas could not pass legislation prohibiting the education of children of illegal immigrants. However, our Constitution should incorporate Articles 2 and 16. Although many consider the United States to be a melting pot it has always been plagued by racial discrimination. Article 2 of the UDHR states, “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind,” By incorporating Article 2 we would help protect against discrimination the Chinese faced during the 1800’s, the Irish that were attacked by the Know Nothing Party, and those stereotyped during the Red Scare. Article 16 allows for every free and fully consenting man and woman to have the right to marry. This Article would help the Court decide on the upcoming case of Winsor v. United States that comes into conflict with estate taxes and the Defense of Marriage Act. We also believe that legislation is required to reflect the ideas found in Article 23, which is the right of fair working conditions. This is required in legislation because until the Lily Ledbetter Act of 2009 the wage gap between men and women was substantially larger. The United States is also the only Western industrialized nation that does not legally require vacation time. It is pertinent that the United States ratifies these rights because as stated by Abraham Lincoln, “(The Constitution) is the only safeguard of our liberties.”

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