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(Inter-) National Poetry Month 2010

Poems for The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Inspired by the anthology “Fire in the Soul: 100 poems for human rights” edited by Dinyar Godrej [→ new tab link to Amazon] for Amnesty International, I have decided to try and find poems this April that highlight the ideals and values expressed in the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I will try to post at least one public domain poem per day, but I may quote parts of newer poems and link to them, or insert videos with readings of poetry. Additionally, I will endeavour to link the name of each poet to a page with biographical information. Often, it will be only Wikipedia, of course, but I shall try to find more interesting sources as I move along. And as a starting point, Wikipedia is not bad. All links will open in new tabs.

I hope you enjoy some of the poems I’ll find and post along the way!

Please feel free to link to this page, or to steal any icons posted here – I made them a few years ago to celebrate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Preamble »

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the full text of which appears in the following pages. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and “to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.”


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1 »