by Jaume d’Urgell, International Foundation for Human Rights*
First of all, I would like to read some articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in order to limit the scope and refresh our memory. I am going to read only a few lines out of the well known 30-article brief document approved by the United Nations in 1948.
Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Article 26. (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
Article 30. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
Quite frequently we find opposing points of view regarding the interpretation of some of the articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with each of these interpretations claiming legitimacy.
If we examine Freedom of Speech in the light of article 19 and we are inclined to think of it as an absolute and limitless declaration, as some people hold to be the case, we see it is obviously wrong. We only have to look at some examples such as death threats, violation of privacy or public defamation without proof, which are not legally permissible, to understand that point of view is incorrect.
Thus, rights ought to be applied with balanced judgement.
What kind of balance? We should strive to find a balance within the spirit of the text, not only avoiding contradictions regarding other articles in the UDHR but also striking a balance among the ideas, principles and values which stem from Humanistic Thought, Law and Philosophy.
Unfortunately, years and, even, decades after the UDHR, the right of African-Americans to attend all-white schools or universities was being denied in the United States. American caucasians and blacks were also segregated on public transport (i.e.: having to yield their seats to white folk) and non-whites had to face discrimination and humiliation every day such as when attending public pools, labelled either ‘blacks’ or ‘whites’.
Hatred, fear, suspicion, dismal stereotypes and deceitful reasoning were at the source of these racial attitudes which are contrary to the essence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“The right not to see blacks” was perhaps the most frequent argument; that is, the right not to share room with people who were seen as below them , in spite of human, philosophical, historical and scientific evidence.
Those whites who upheld their supposed “right not to see blacks” did not want to see black children in the same classrooms as their children. They did not want to see them in the same lavatories, town halls, cinemas or restaurants. Neither did they want to see blacks sitting on public trains and buses as long as whites had to be standing.
Is there such a thing as the right not to see? Obviously not. Not only is there not such a right but we can state that, in general terms, there is not the right to deny others of their rights, since a right which only a few people could have would not be worthy of being called a right ; on the contrary, it would become a privilege.
Nobody has the right to deny others of their rights.
As far as Naturism is concerned, there are people, who under the influence of moral dogmas, political doctrines and other sources of noncritical thought, still insist today, in 2013, on their right not to see. Furthermore, they believe they have a right to impose their moral code on others without their consent.
The Naturist movement must work cross-functionally and be geared towards different goals: on one side, to explain in simple words that the rights of some do not impeach on the rights or values of anybody else; on the contrary, they strengthen theirs. Likewise, that rights do not mean compulsion; that social institutions do not run any risk of crumbling only because other people do not hide their bodies, weather permitting. On the other side, Naturists must be alert against any attempts to label, as criminal offenses, expressions of freedom such as just taking off their clothes or any other masks worn against their will.
I have begun this presentation with some quotations and I will finish by quoting two more, article 1 from the UDHR and the formal definition of Naturism.
Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
“Naturism is a way of life in harmony with nature, expressed through social nudity, linked to self-respect, tolerance of differing views together with respect for the environment”.
*Jaume d’Urgell, International Foundation for Human Rights.
3rd Naturist Meeting of Southern Europe, (FEN, AAPNT, INF). Debate on “From Public Offense to Naturist Freedom” (“Del Escándalo Público a la Libertad Naturista”). Members of the board: Ismael Rodrigo, FEN President; Joaquim Plana, FEN Vicepresident and CCN President; Jaume d’Urgell, Human Rights; Javier I. Rodríguez, Penal Law expert; Jordi Jiménez, Police Command Officer.
Link to the original in Spanish.