Human Rights &
[Algiers] Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples
4 July 1976
Adopted on 4 July 1976 by a group of
non-governmental participants, which included labour unionists,
liberation activists and NGOs. Reprinted in
Issa G Shivji The Concept of Human Rights in Africa (1989)
We live at a time of great hopes and deep despair; a time of
conflicts and contradictions;
a time when liberation struggles have
succeeded in arousing the peoples of the world against the domestic
and international structures of imperialism and in overturning
a time of struggle and victory in which new ideals
of justice among and within nations have been adopted; a time when
the General Assembly of the United Nations has given increasing
expression, from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the
Charter on the Economic Rights and Duties of States, to the quest
for a new international, political and economic order.
But this is also a time of frustration and defeat, as new forms of
imperialism evolve to oppress and exploit the peoples of the world.
Imperialism, using vicious methods, with the complicity of
governments that it has itself often installed, continues to
dominate a part of the world.
Through direct or indirect
intervention, through multi-national enterprises, through
manipulation of corrupt local politicians, with the assistance of
military regimes based on police repression, torture and physical
extermination of opponents, through a set of practices that has
become known as neo-colonialism, imperialism extends its
stranglehold over many peoples.
Aware of expressing the aspirations of our era, we met in Algiers to
proclaim that all the peoples of the world have an equal right to
liberty, the right to free themselves from any foreign interference
and to choose their own government, the right if they are under
subjection, to fight for their liberation and the right to benefit
from other peoples' assistance in their struggle.
Convinced that the effective respect for human rights necessarily
implies respect for the rights of peoples, we have adopted the
Universal Declaration for the Rights of Peoples.
May all those who, throughout the world, are fighting the great
battle, at times through armed struggle for the freedom of all
peoples, find in this Declaration the assurance of the legitimacy of
SECTION I: RIGHT TO EXISTENCE
Every people has the right to existence.
Every people has the right to the respect of its national and
Every people has the right to retain peaceful possession of its
territory and to return to it if it is expelled.
None shall be subjected, because of his national or cultural
identity, to massacre, torture, persecution, deportation, expulsion
or living conditions such as may compromise the identity or
integrity of the people to which he belongs.
SECTION II: RIGHT TO POLITICAL SELF-DETERMINATION
Every people has an imprescriptible and unalienable right to
self-determination. It shall determine its political status freely
and without any foreign interference.
Every people has the right to break free from any colonial or
foreign domination, whether direct or indirect, and from any racist
Every people has the right to have democratic government
representing all the citizens without distinction as to race, sex,
belief or colour, and capable of ensuring effective respect for the
human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.
SECTION III: ECONOMIC RIGHTS OF PEOPLES
Every people has an exclusive right over its natural wealth and
resources. It has the right to recover them if they have been
despoiled, as well as any unjustly paid indemnities.
Scientific and technical progress being part of the common heritage
of mankind, every people has the right to participate in it.
Every people has the right to a fair evaluation of its labour and to
equal and just terms in international trade.
Every people has the right to choose its own economic and social
system and pursue its own path to economic development freely and
without any foreign interference.
The economic rights set forth shall be exercised in a spirit of
solidarity amongst the peoples of the world and with due regard for
their respective interests.
SECTION IV: RIGHT TO CULTURE
Every people has the right to speak its own language and preserve
and develop its own culture, thereby contributing to the enrichment
of the culture of mankind.
Every people has the right to its artistic, historical and cultural
Every people has the right not to have an alien culture imposed upon
SECTION V: RIGHT TO ENVIRONMENT AND COMMON RESOURCES
Every people has the right to the conservation, protection and
improvement of its environment.
Every people has the right to make use of the common heritage of
mankind, such as the high seas, the sea-bed, and outer space.
In the exercise of the preceding rights every people shall take
account of the necessity for coordinating the requirements of its
economic development with solidarity amongst all the peoples of the
SECTION VI: RIGHTS OF MINORITIES
When a people constitutes a minority within a state it has the right
to respect for its identity, traditions, language and cultural
The members of a minority shall enjoy without discrimination the
same rights as the other citizens of the state and shall participate
on an equal footing with them in public life.
These rights shall be exercised with due respect for the legitimate
interests of the community as a whole and cannot authorise impairing
the territorial integrity and political unity of the state, provided
the state acts in accordance with all the principles set forth in
SECTION VII: GUARANTEES AND SANCTIONS
Any disregard for the provisions of this Declaration constitutes a
breach of obligations towards the international community as a
Any prejudice resulting from disregard for this Declaration must be
totally compensated by whoever caused it.
Any enrichment to the detriment of the people in violation of the
provisions of this Declaration shall give rise to the restitution of
profits thus obtained. The same shall be applied to all excessive
profits on investments of foreign origin.
Any unequal treaties, agreements or contracts concluded in disregard
of the fundamental rights of peoples shall have no effect.
External financial charges which become excessive and unbearable for
the people shall cease to be due.
The gravest violations of the fundamental rights of peoples,
especially of their right to existence, constitute international
crimes for which their perpetrators shall carry personal penal
Any people whose fundamental rights are seriously disregarded has
the right to enforce them, specially by political or trade union
struggle and even, in the last resort, by the use of force.
Liberation movements shall have access to international
organisations and their combatants are entitled to the protection of
the humanitarian law of war.
The re-establishment of the fundamental rights of peoples when they
are seriously disregarded, is a duty incumbent upon all members of
the international community.