Human Rights Day 2018: Do you know your rights?

Today, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70. First adopted in 1948, this milestone document proclaims the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

At NIMD, we firmly believe that no system is better place to uphold the rights of its people than democracy. That’s why we work in the heart of the political arena, helping to build democratic societies where citizens’ human rights are protected by strong institutions.

To celebrate Human Rights Day 2018, we’re launching a short quiz. We think it’s important for everyone to know and understand their rights. How well do you know yours?


0-4 correct: Uh-oh! Looks like you need some extra info about what your rights are. Some really useful information can be found here and here.

5-8 correct: Not bad! Looks like you have a good understanding of your rights, but maybe you brush up on some extra info on your rights.

9-12 correct: Congratulations! You are a true human rights buff! We hope you are enjoying these rights to your fullest and helping more people benefit from them!


Wondering why you got one wrong? See our explanations below.

  1. If I am accused of a criminal offence, it is my and my lawyers’ responsibility to prove I am innocent.
  • FALSE: The UDHR asserts that “Innocent until proved guilty” is your status as a defendant – therefore the prosecutor must prove you committed the crime.
  1. My employer doesn’t have to give me holiday pay.
  • FALSE: According to Article 24 of the UNUDHR, “Everyone… has the right to periodic holidays with pay.”
  1. I get to choose what type of education my children get.
  • TRUE: Article 26 denotes that Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” However, this is not grounds for parents to keep their children out of education altogether; Article 26 also states that “Elementary education shall be compulsory.”
  1. If my job doesn’t pay enough for my family and I to enjoy a decent quality of life, there must be social protection to ensure we have enough to get by.
  • TRUE: Article 23 states that “Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.” But the immediate fulfilment of your economic rights is not a job for the state, and the expectation for economic rights fulfilment is a lot lower than for say, political or civil rights.
  1. I can oblige my employees to join a trade union.
  • FALSE: Even if joining a certain organization might be in your interests, no-one can compel you to do so. Article 20 clearly states “No one may be compelled to belong to an association.”
  1. The government cannot take any of my rightfully owned property away, even if it is in the national interest.
  • TRUE: Your rights don’t suddenly disappear because the country needs your stuff.
  1. Refugees who leave their home country do not have the right to go back whenever they want.
  • FALSE: According to Article 13, “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” There is no caveat in terms of limiting this right within the declaration.
  1. Schools and educators don’t have to teach children about human rights.
  • FALSE: Article 26 explains that “Education shall be directed to…the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms”. The Children’s Rights Convention of 1990 more firmly states that education must inform children about their rights.
  1. If I did something decades ago that has since become illegal, the government cannot retroactively charge me of a criminal offence.
  • TRUE: You cannot be charged for doing something if it wasn’t illegal at the time. Alternatively, say you committed a crime years ago but the penalty for doing so has gotten more severe. Article 11 states that it is not right for “a heavier penalty [to] be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.”
  1. I am a convicted criminal in my country, so I have lost my right to a vote.
  • TRUE (SORT OF): A state is legally entitled to prevent people without civil rights from voting. If you’re a convicted felon, this may apply to you – it depends on your country’s decision as a sovereign entity.