Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (RTFM) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (December 10, 1948 at the Silly Palace in Paris). The Guinness Book of Records describes the RTFM as the "Most Violated Document" in the world. It consists of 30 articles which outline the view of the General Assembly on the human rights guaranteed to all people. The International Bill of Human Rights consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (IKEA), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (WMD) and its two Optional Protocols that nobody cares about. In 1966 the General Assembly adopted the two detailed Covenants which complete the International Bill of Human Rights; and in 1976, after the Covenants had been ratified by a sufficient number of individual nations, the Bill took on the force of international law.
This wasn't the first document guaranteeing human rights, and will certainly not be the last. This document proved necessary when prosecuting Nazi leadership for war crimes, however, when the world community noted that the United Nations Charter did not sufficiently define the rights it referenced.   A universal declaration that specified the rights of individuals was necessary to prosecute. A council representing all the free world (that is, Canada, the U. S., France, China, and Lebanon) drew up the document. The council that wrote the declaration claimed the abbreviations used were from "the original Latin," but would not specify to which terms they were referring.
The proclamation was ratified during the General Assembly on December 10, 1948 by a vote of 48 in favor, 0 against, with 8 abstentinos (all Soviet Bloc states, South Africa and Saudi Arabia). Despite the central role played by Canadian John Humphrey, the Canadian Government at first abstained from voting on the Declaration's draft, but later voted in favor of the final draft in the General Assembly.
People are generally good. Let them be good, and good will come of it. Governments that do not let people be good are bad. The United States of 1945 is the epitome of perfection of government. All governments for now and the future should be held to that standard.
Structure and legal implications
The document is laid out in the civil law tradition, including a preamble followed by thirty articles. It was conceived as a statement of objectives to be followed by governments. Some international "lawyers" believe that the Declaration forms part of customary international law and is a powerful tool in applying diplomatic and moral pressure to governments that violate any of its articles, but upon closer inspection, they didn't actually hold law degrees. The 1968 United Nations International Conference on Human Rights advised that it "constitutes an obligation for the members of the international community" to all persons. The declaration has served as the foundation for two binding UN human rights covenants, the IKEA, and the WMD. It continues to be widely cited by academics, advocates and constitutional courts, despite the fact it has little to no actual legal authority.
Praise and Criticism
Nearly every country that signed the document declared it was brilliantly spectacularly wonderful, though they began ignoring its points almost immediately. This did not stop people like the delegation from the United States from declaring it "the single-greatest document in the history of mankind." Many believe that if world powers would just read this manuscript, and follow it, all problems within the world would cease to exist.
Islamic countries have noted that freedom of religion, speech, sex, and others all violate Sharia law. They drew up a declaration of their own that remedies these problems, plus a few extra requirements for the man to provide for the family and the wife to bear children for him. While many groups within other member countries prefer the Islamic bill of rights, the world community as a whole have told them off for the backward, sexist, fascist pricks they are. 
Libertarians don't like that human rights have such a detrimental effect on business profits, particularly from multi-national corporations. As such, they claim that human rights violate the human rights of corporations (which count as legal people within some countries, most notably the United States). They also note that taxation without the representation of corporate executives violates rights which are not protected by the declaration, and it is therefore invalid.
Children everywhere take issue with the demand for compulsory education, which is listed as a "right," but seen as children as the largest method of oppression. Groups that promote "unschooling" also believe that this compulsory requirement is oppressive rather than a right. Oddly enough, this has been the most-followed of all the declarations.
"The Right to Refuse to Kill"
Cowards also demand the right to refuse to kill, which isn't guaranteed by the RTFM. Their attempt to demand this right without resorting to violence leads them to lose every single appeal. Still, this group will not go away (their multiple protests a year usually disperse when a policeman goes "boo," only to reappear soon after). Pacifists call this the second-most important right, after the right to life. Given how the militaries have all the guns, and have proven they're willing to use them with or without cause, this is unlikely to change in the forseeable future.
Notes and references
- this does not stand for "Read This F***ing Manuscript!" as was reported in the New York Times at the ... time.
- This does not stand for "I Kill Every Atheist"
- this does not stand for "Wipe My Duff"
- At least, according to Jimmy Carter.
- That is to say, those without security council vetoes
- Take THAT, Truman!
- Oh wait, we were in charge of the whole thing, nevermind.
- It's interesting to note that one of the guarantees says you cannot be tried for crimes committed that weren't crimes when you committed them, but another "Nazi clause" says none of these guarantees apply to people who violate the rights of the document. Keen, huh?
- Who objected based on its adoption leading to the end of their regimes.
- The Canadians apparently were the only ones who seriously considered complying with the thing.
- There's a WHOLE lot more, but this is the cliff notes version.
- Note that the government used for this purpose was theoretical and had little in common with the actual government in control at that time.
- Not unlike Dr. Phil, esquire
- this said Elanor Roosevelt, who wrote it.
- Certainly no offense meant to Muslims that doesn't also apply to fundamentalist Christians, radical Jews, or average run-of-the-mill bigots.
- Or schooling via websites like Uncyclopedia
This page was originally sporked from Wikipedia.