The Orthodox Declaration of Human Rights
Declaration on Human Rights and Dignity

The Tenth World Russian People’s Council, april 6th 2006



Aware that the world, passing through a crucial point in its history, is facing a threat of conflict between the civilizations with their different understanding of the human being and the human being’s calling, – the World Russian People's Council, on behalf of the unique Russian civilization, adopts this declaration:

Each person as image of God has singular unalienable worth, which must be respected by every one of us, the society and state.  It is by doing good that the human being gains dignity. Thus we distinguish between human worth and dignity. Worth is given, while dignity is acquired.

The eternal moral law has a solid foundation in the human soul, independent of one’s culture, ethnic origin or life circumstances. This foundation is laid down by the Creator in human nature and manifested in human conscience. The voice of conscience however can be muffled by sin. Precisely for this reason the religious tradition that has God as its Origin is called to help discern between good and evil.

We discern two kinds of freedom: inner freedom from evil and freedom of moral choice. Freedom from evil is valuable per se, while the freedom of choice becomes valuable and the person gains dignity inasmuch as the chosen alternative is good. Conversely, the freedom of choice leads to self-destruction and loss of human dignity when the choice is evil.

Human rights are based on the worth of the person and should have as their goal the realization of the person’s human dignity. Therefore, human rights essentially involve morality. Any separation of these rights from morality means their profanation, for there is no such thing as immoral dignity.

We are for the right to life and against the “right” to death; for the right to creation and against the “right” to destruction.  Human rights and liberties are effective inasmuch as they help the individual to grow in good, defend the individual from evil within and without, promote the individual’s positive role in society.  It is in this perspective that we respect not only civil and political rights and liberties, but also social, economical and cultural rights.

Rights and liberties are inseparable from human obligations and responsibilities.  The individual in pursuit of personal interests is called to relate them to those of the neighbor, family, community, nation and all humanity.

There are values no smaller than human rights. These are faith, morality, the sacred,  motherland.  Whenever these values come into conflict with the implementation of human rights, the task of the society, state and law is to bring both to harmony. It is unacceptable, in pursuit of human rights, to oppress faith and moral tradition, insult religious and national feelings, cause harm to revered holy objects and sites, jeopardize the motherland. Likewise we see as dangerous the “invention” of such “rights” as to legitimize a behavior condemned by both the traditional morality and historical religions.

We reject the policy of double standards with regard to human rights, as well as attempts to use them for political, ideological, military and economical purposes, for imposition of a particular socio-political system.

We are willing to cooperate with the state and all benevolent forces in ensuring human rights. Particularly important for this cooperation are such endeavors as preserving the rights of nations and ethnic groups to their religion, language and culture, defending the freedom of conscience and the right of believers to their own way of life, combating ethnically and religiously motivated crime, protecting against arbitrary actions by the authorities and employers, concern for the rights of servicemen, defending the children’s rights, taking care of inmates and other persons in state custody, protecting the victims of destructive sects, opposing total control over private life and personal convictions,  preventing people from being involved in crime, corruption, slave trade, prostitution, drug addiction, compulsive gambling.

We seek dialog with people of diverse faiths and views on human rights and their place in the hierarchy of values. Like nothing else, this dialogue today will help avoid the conflict of civilizations and attain a peaceful diversity of worldviews, cultures, legal and political systems on the globe. The future of people depends on their success in this endeavor.

Russian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate, 2006


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