Disclaimer: just a hypothetical question.

Does there exist a legal, possible procedure (as in, a finite amount of steps that are reasonably possible for the average human adult in which not a single step contains illegal actions for any of the concerned parties) through which one (assuming a human adult) can revoke any or all of the rights defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

In other words, is there a way one can give up on (any or all) of the Human Rights?

  • Define "give up". One can choose to "waive" or "not exercise" ones rights. Does that qualify as "giving up" to you?
    – sharur
    Oct 8, 2020 at 17:46
  • Giving up implies not exercising and officially stating that one doesn't want said rights and never will again.
    – Jonas
    Oct 8, 2020 at 17:57
  • You may commit a crime that is punished with death sentence and a judge might deprive you of your right to life.
    – SJuan76
    Oct 8, 2020 at 19:16
  • Lots of countries don't give death sentences anymore ...
    – Jonas
    Oct 8, 2020 at 19:40
  • You can waive the "right to life" by having a Do Not Resuscitate order placed in your medical file - thats quite a common one.
    – user28517
    Oct 8, 2020 at 20:57

2 Answers 2


Rights defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are legally irrelevant, what "counts" is rights as actually recognized by a particular nation. Article 9 ("No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile") corresponds, to a fair extent, to Due Process rights under US law, whereas article 26 (the education article) does not correspond to anything in the US Constitution, though there may be state constitution correlates. Article 28 ("Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized") isn't enforceable in any meaningful sense.

The right to a trial by a jury of one's peers is an example of a right that can be waived – that is a right that you have to option to exercise, each time the question arises. There is no mechanism in the US whereby a person can irrevocably go on record as always waiving that right. Theoretically, Congress could pass a law enabling a person to make some legal choice irrevocably: there are irrevocable financial and contractual decisions, where in the later case you may irrevocably waive your common law right to sue for damages. But the concept of fundamental constitutional rights is so important to the way that US courts think, that I doubt that a law enabling irrevocable waiver of enumerated constitutional rights would pass legal review. A constitutional amendment would be necessary: but that simply means it will be harder, not that it's impossible. Things could be different under a different constitutional framework. It might be possible to waive your Article 30 right to an 8 hour work day or voting rights per Article 66 in North Korea.


Sure - sign a contract

A contract puts legal constraints of the actions you can take including, in some cases, legally protected rights. For example, a non-disclosure agreement constrains your freedom of speech.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .