Article 3:
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.


Article 3 of the Universal Declaration provides that "everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." This is not simply an Enlightenment reflex, but a profound reaction to what went on in the concentration camps. Article 3 overlaps with Article 25 and should be read in conjunction with Article 5, which provides that no one shall be subject to "torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," and Article 9, which provides that no one shall be the subject to "arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."

At the time of the drafting of the Declaration, the Chinese representative in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Chang, proposed a conceptual framework in which the initial three articles of the Declaration should express the main ideas of eighteenth century political philosophy on rights: Article 1 to express the idea of "fraternity;" Article 2 that of "equality;" and Article 3 that of "liberty." Article 3 thus sets forth this basic principle, which is then defined and clarified in the following nine articles (Articles 4--11). These inter-related articles, and especially Article 3 on which they are conceptually based, deal with the issue of personal security (as opposed to issues of political and civil rights, new international rights like citizenship and asylum, and economic, cultural and social rights which are dealt with in later parts of the Declaration).

These strong protections for personal security illustrate the close connection between the Holocaust and the Declaration. Hitler had an organic view of the state (the implications of which were drawn out in Mein Kampf - in a terribly consistent way). He is the best known, though not the first thinker, to take the word "organic" literally. He stated many times that he saw the "state as the living organism of a nationality" and he used similar metaphors and abstract phrases identifying the state with race, and race with blood. Most of the activities of the Third Reich can be categorized as the assembling, preserving, and bringing to dominance of the Aryan race. At a mass meeting in 1934, Rudolf Hess declared National Socialism to be "nothing but applied biology." Accordingly, National Socialism was not just authoritarian and totalitarian, it was first and foremost racist.

This extreme "organic view" ensured the total breakdown of the dividing line between individuals and their state. As Hernan Santa Cruz, the Chilean delegate to the Third Committee, stated--this view is directly opposed to the assumption upon which the Declaration is based. That is to say, the Declaration in Articles 3--11 and 25, is based on the belief that "the interests of the individual [come] before those of the state and that the state should not be allowed to deprive the individual of his dignity and his basic rights."


See further Morsink, at 36 ff (2.1. "Personal securities and the camps") and at 331.

See also Asbjørn at 73-4.

Peter Danchin, Columbia University