American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man



The American peoples have acknowledged the dignity of the individual, and their national constitutions recognize that juridical and political institutions, which regulate life in human society, have as their principal aim the protection of the essential rights of man and the creation of circumstances that will permit him to achieve spiritual and material progress and attain happiness;


The American States have on repeated occasions recognized that the essential rights of man are not derived from the fact that he is a national of a certain state, but are based upon attributes of his human personality;


The international protection of the rights of man should be the principal guide of an evolving American law;


The affirmation of essential human rights by the American States together with the guarantees given by the internal regimes of the states establish the initial system of protection considered by the American States as being suited to the present social and juridical conditions, not without a recognition on their part that they should increasingly strengthen that system in the international field as conditions become more favorable,


The Ninth International Conference of American States



To adopt the following






All men are born free and equal, in dignity and in rights, and, being endowed by nature with reason and conscience, they should conduct themselves as brothers one to another.


The fulfillment of duty by each individual is a prerequisite to the rights of all.  Rights and duties are interrelated in every social and political activity of man.  While rights exalt individual liberty, duties express the dignity of that liberty.


Duties of a juridical nature presuppose others of a moral nature which support them in principle and constitute their basis.


Inasmuch as spiritual development is the supreme end of human existence and the highest expression thereof, it is the duty of man to serve that end with all his strength and resources.


Since culture is the highest social and historical expression of that spiritual development, it is the duty of man to preserve, practice and foster culture by every means within his power.


And, since moral conduct constitutes the noblest flowering of culture, it is the duty of every man always to hold it in high respect.





Article I.  Every human being has the right to life, liberty and the security of his person.


Right to life, liberty and personal security.

Article II.  All persons are equal before the law and have the rights and duties established in this Declaration, without distinction as to race, sex, language, creed or any other factor.


Right to equality before law.

Article III.  Every person has the right freely to profess a religious faith, and to manifest and practice it both in public and in private.


Right to religious freedom and worship.

Article IV.  Every person has the right to freedom of investigation, of opinion, and of the expression and dissemination of ideas, by any medium whatsoever.


Right to freedom of investigation, opinion, expression and dissemination.

Article V.  Every person has the right to the protection of the law against abusive attacks upon his honor, his reputation, and his private and family life.


Right to protection of honor, personal reputation, and private and family life.

Article VI.  Every person has the right to establish a family, the basic element of society, and to receive protection therefore.


Right to a family and to protection thereof.

Article VII.  All women, during pregnancy and the nursing period, and all children have the right to special protection, care and aid.


Right to protection for mothers and children.

Article VIII.  Every person has the right to fix his residence within the territory of the state of which he is a national, to move about freely within such territory, and not to leave it except by his own will.


Right to residence and movement.

Article IX.  Every person has the right to the inviolability of his home.


Right to inviolability of the home.

Article X.  Every person has the right to the inviolability and transmission of his correspondence.

Right to the inviolability and transmission of correspondence.

Article XI.  Every person has the right to the preservation of his health through sanitary and social measures relating to food, clothing, housing and medical care, to the extent permitted by public and community resources.


Right to the preservation of
health and to well-being.

Article XII.  Every person has the right to an education, which should be based on the principles of liberty, morality and human solidarity.


Right to education.

Likewise every person has the right to an education that will prepare him to attain a decent life, to raise his standard of living, and to be a useful member of society.



The right to an education includes the right to equality of opportunity in every case, in accordance with natural talents, merit and the desire to utilize the resources that the state or the community is in a position to provide.



Every person has the right to receive, free, at least a primary education.



Article XIII.  Every person has the right to take part in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts, and to participate in the benefits that result from intellectual progress, especially scientific discoveries.


Right to the benefits of culture.

He likewise has the right to the protection of his moral and material interests as regards his inventions or any literary, scientific or artistic works of which he is the author.



Article XIV.  Every person has the right to work, under proper conditions, and to follow his vocation freely, insofar as existing conditions of employment permit.


Right to work and to fair remuneration.

Every person who works has the right to receive such remuneration as will, in proportion to his capacity and skill, assure him a standard of living suitable for himself and for his family.



Article XV.  Every person has the right to leisure time, to wholesome recreation, and to the opportunity for advantageous use of his free time to his spiritual, cultural and physical benefit.


Right to leisure time and to the use thereof.

Article XVI.  Every person has the right to social security which will protect him from the consequences of unemployment, old age, and any disabilities arising from causes beyond his control that make it physically or mentally impossible for him to earn a living.


Right to social security.

Article XVII.  Every person has the right to be recognized everywhere as a person having rights and obligations, and to enjoy the basic civil rights.


Right to recognition of juridical personality and civil rights.

Article XVIII.  Every person may resort to the courts to ensure respect for his legal rights.  There should likewise be available to him a simple, brief procedure whereby the courts will protect him from acts of authority that, to his prejudice, violate any fundamental constitutional rights.


Right to a fair trial.

Article XIX.  Every person has the right to the nationality to which he is entitled by law and to change it, if he so wishes, for the nationality of any other country that is willing to grant it to him.


Right to nationality.

Article XX.  Every person having legal capacity is entitled to participate in the government of his country, directly or through his representatives, and to take part in popular elections, which shall be by secret ballot, and shall be honest, periodic and free.


Right to vote and to participate in government.

Article XXI.  Every person has the right to assemble peaceably with others in a formal public meeting or an informal gathering, in connection with matters of common interest of any nature.


Right of assembly.

Article XXII.  Every person has the right to associate with others to promote, exercise and protect his legitimate interests of a political, economic, religious, social, cultural, professional, labor union or other nature.


Right of association.

Article XXIII.  Every person has a right to own such private property as meets the essential needs of decent living and helps to maintain the dignity of the individual and of the home.


Right to property.

Article XXIV.  Every person has the right to submit respectful petitions to any competent authority, for reasons of either general or private interest, and the right to obtain a prompt decision thereon.


Right of petition.

Article XXV.  No person may be deprived of his liberty except in the cases and according to the procedures established by pre-existing law.


Right of protection from arbitrary arrest.

No person may be deprived of liberty for nonfulfillment of obligations of a purely civil character.



Every individual who has been deprived of his liberty has the right to have the legality of his detention ascertained without delay by a court, and the right to be tried without undue delay or, otherwise, to be released.  He also has the right to humane treatment during the time he is in custody.



Article XXVI.  Every accused person is presumed to be innocent until proved guilty.


Right to due process of law.

Every person accused of an offense has the right to be given an impartial and public hearing, and to be tried by courts previously established in accordance with pre-existing laws, and not to receive cruel, infamous or unusual punishment.



Article XXVII.  Every person has the right, in case of pursuit not resulting from ordinary crimes, to seek and receive asylum in foreign territory, in accordance with the laws of each country and with international agreements.


Right of asylum.

Article XXVIII.  The rights of man are limited by the rights of others, by the security of all, and by the just demands of the general welfare and the advancement of democracy.

Scope of the rights of man.



Article XXIX.  It is the duty of the individual so to conduct himself in relation to others that each and every one may fully form and develop his personality.


Duties to society.

Article XXX.  It is the duty of every person to aid, support, educate and protect his minor children, and it is the duty of children to honor their parents always and to aid, support and protect them when they need it.


Duties toward children and parents.

Article XXXI.  It is the duty of every person to acquire at least an elementary education.


Duty to receive instruction.

Article XXXII.  It is the duty of every person to vote in the popular elections of the country of which he is a national, when he is legally capable of doing so.


Duty to vote.

Article XXXIII.  It is the duty of every person to obey the law and other legitimate commands of the authorities of his country and those of the country in which he may be.


Duty to obey the law.

Article XXXIV.  It is the duty of every able-bodied person to render whatever civil and military service his country may require for its defense and preservation, and, in case of public disaster, to render such services as may be in his power.


Duty to serve the community and the nation.

It is likewise his duty to hold any public office to which he may be elected by popular vote in the state of which he is a national.



Article XXXV.  It is the duty of every person to cooperate with the state and the community with respect to social security and welfare, in accordance with his ability and with existing circumstances.


Duties with respect to social security and welfare.

Article XXXVI.  It is the duty of every person to pay the taxes established by law for the support of public services.


Duty to pay taxes.

Article XXXVII.  It is the duty of every person to work, as far as his capacity and possibilities permit, in order to obtain the means of livelihood or to benefit his community.

Duty to work.


(Adopted by the Ninth International Conference of American States, Bogotá, Colombia, 1948)