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Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) was born in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. King was ordained in the Christian ministry in 1948 After receiving a Bachelor of Divinity degree, he gained a Doctor of Philosophy degree at Boston University. In 1964 he became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. King adopted a policy of nonviolent resistance as a means of effecting political change in America. In 13 years of actions to achieve black civil rights, King—like Gandhi—was many times in jail and often in peril of injury or death. He was murdered in 1968. The letter he wrote in Birmingham jail has become a classic exposition of the need to act without delay to protect the human rights of others.
The United Nations (1945-) was formed after the end of World War II with the goal of saving future generations from such disasters. To this end the nations pledged themselves to promote the rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This Declaration was produced by discussion of opinions, not by scientific demonstration or logical analysis, or by divine revelation. It is, essentially, a statement of belief. It is now accepted by nearly every nation. As every right enjoyed by a person represents an obligation on society, acceptance of this declaration entails obligations that deserve to be made explicit. So a declaration of human obligations has been developed at this web site, based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights began to be translated into law in Europe when the Council of Europe issued a Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in 1950. The Convention took in 14 articles from the Declaration of Universal Human Rights, added additional rights, and established a European Court of Human Rights as a means of enforcement. Subsequently, Protocols were issued that took in many of the remaining articles in the Declaration. The Convention was further supplemented by a Social Charter, a Code of Social Security, and by Conventions on protection of the environment, on the exercise of children’s rights, on action against trafficking in human beings, and on the prevention of torture.
The European Union (1993- ) issued a Charter of Fundamental Rights in 2000. This reaffirms that rights entail responsibilities and duties, and declares that human dignity is inviolable. To rights agreed on in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter adds new rights that recognize developments in biomedicine, communications, data collection, organized crime, marriage, the media, conscientious objection, vocational training, intellectual property, environmental protection, administration, and personal documentation, among others. Where the rights have been covered by the European Convention on Human Rights (1950) and its Protocols, the Convention determines the meaning of the Charter's rights.