Scott # UN-NY 415

Human Rights in Arts
- The Art of Human Rights - 

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Scott # UN-NY 416

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all member countries to publish 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."

In order to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Declaration, the United Nations' three offices issued in 1983 a set of six stamps, 2 from each of the offices. These stamps were designed by the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, and are all original designs for stamps, not existing artworks reproduced on stamps. 

As if it wasn't enough with one such declaration, covering universally, there exists also a European Declaration of Human Rights, which is basically the same as the Universal Declaration, but with a slightly different wording.  The European Declaration is a direct result of the French Revolution in 1789.  

Scott # 2168

Scott # UN-G 172

Apart from the 30 artists' works used on the big Declaration-Set over the years 1989-1993, the most used artist by the United Nations has been Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000).  The Hundertwasser-artworks shown on this page are the full set of stamps designed by him for the United Nations.  These artworks shown above and below are made in water colours, and the original works belong to KunstHaus Wien, Austria.  On this site you will find a full array of Hundertwasser-stamps from different countries.  

Scott # UN-G 119

Scott # UN-G 120

Scott # UN-V 37

Scott # UN-V 38

Over time it has proven more than difficult for the global society to respect these basic rules, resulting in wars, racial discrimination, social disorders, and terrorist attacks  ... 

Scott # 1141

In the American Credo Series from the 1960s this stamp was issued in May 1960.  

  • USA 1960.  First Day Cover cancelled on 18th May 1960 in Charlottesville, Virginia.  The cachet shows Thomas Jefferson's portrait in front of his home "Monticello".  On the stamp, carrying Thomas Jefferson's signature, is printed a quotation by him:  "I have sworn [eternal] Hostility against every form of TYRANNY over the mind of man". The same quotation is printed next to the his portrait on the cachet.  

  • A close-up of the stamp on the cover.  

Although Jefferson grew up amidst an aristocratic family setting, he emerged on the American scene as a firm liberal thinker and leader.  His deeds spoke of equality and justice for everyone.  As a lawmaker and chief executive in colonial Virginia, he set in motion legislation that established freedom of religion and a system of general elections.  As the third President of the United States, he delivered the death knell to class government and succeeded in republicanizing public opinion.  

Jefferson was among the foremost architects of the American Revolution.  His eminence and forceful style of expression procured for him the signal honour of drafting the Declaration of Independence:  "We hold these truths to be self- evident", he said, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".   Great words indeed, seeding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

During the years 1989-1993 the United Nations' three offices in New York, Geneva (Switzerland) and Vienna (Austria) have issued a very nice set of art stamps emphasizing the individual articles of the Universal Declaration on the attached labels.  These stamps are shown on the next two pages.  It is amazing to see how well chosen each painting is for the appropriate article, even if the works of art are not specifically created for the purpose.  

The articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are basically so natural, that most people, at least in the Western World,  take them for granted.  Governments, regimes, terrorist movements and individuals have always infringed others' rights by simple suppression of their peoples, by censorship of thoughts, speech, press, and freedom to move around.  The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, on New York and Washington D.C. have fully proven that some people do not grant other people the same rights as they give themselves, so there are good reasons to remind us all of these rights.  

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Published 1999 
Revised 18 dec 2004 
Copyright Ann Mette Heindorff

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