Universal Statement of Moral Obligations
(The style of this draft is based on that of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - see notes)
Whereas the welfare of the people of the world is dependent on the most desirable moral behaviour of all individuals and organizations
Whereas disagreement between peoples may arise due to different views on the nature of forms of behaviour that are considered to be morally desirable
Whereas it is desirable that the peoples of the world should have a common basis for the determination and identification of behaviours that are considered morally desirable
Whereas there are certain principles that may universally be presumed, in general, to describe behaviour that may be regarded as morally desirable
Whereas such principles may be regarded as universal because every individual may be universally presumed to desire to be treated in accordance with such principles
Whereas a set of such principles may be described as follows:
Non-malificence Do not harm yourself or other people
Beneficence Help yourself and other people
Autonomy Allow rational individuals to make free and informed choices
Justice Treat people fairly: treat equals equally, unequals unequally
Utility Maximize the ratio of benefits to harms for all people
Fidelity Keep your promises and agreements
Honesty Do not lie, defraud, deceive or mislead
Privacy Respect personal privacy and confidentiality

Whereas a knowledge of these principles and the method of their application is desirable in avoiding behaviour in contravention of these principles
Whereas a process of moral reasoning should be employed as a guide to behaviour that best implements a balance of these principles
Whereas in this process all the available relevant information should be sought and utilized
Whereas a common observance of these principles is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge

It  is therefore here stated

This Universal Statement of Moral Obligations as a common guide to behaviour for all peoples in all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Statement constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these Obligations, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.

Article 1

All human beings are obliged with the responsibility to act in accordance with a balanced consideration of all moral principles, seeking to fulfil each of the principles to the maximum degree warranted by  circumstances, in a spirit of brotherhood

Article 2

Everyone is obliged to act reasonably in accordance with the moral obligations set forth in this Statement without exception of any kind with respect to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Article 3

The administration of justice requires an obligation to obey the law. Laws should not violate any reasoned and balanced interpretation of moral obligations formulated in accordance with this Statement. If any law is reasonably considered to pose such a violation, it is the duty of everyone to seek to change that law in accordance with the lawful means provided. Only in exceptional circumstances, determined by clear and unequivocal imperatives implied by conformity with these obligations, should any law be disobeyed.

Article 4

The moral obligations and practices implied by belief in any particular religion should not be considered to precede, override or surpass a balanced interpretation of the eight moral principles set forth in this Statement.

Article 5

Where contradictions occur in the simultaneous fulfilment of different moral principles, such that one of more the principles is violated, it must be reasonably demonstrated that exceptional circumstances prevail, necessitating the violation of that principle or principles in favour of other principles.

Article 6

All relevant information necessary for the conduct of moral decision making in accordance with this Statement should be provided and not unnecessarily withheld from those who would benefit from such information.

Article 7

It is an obligation of those in positions of power and authority over others not to exploit their power and authority for personal gain, nor use it in favour of any particular religion, in violation of the intentions of this Statement.

Article 8

Parents have an obligation to their children to educate their children the principles or moral behaviour and reasoning set out in this Statement and to provide by their own conformity with these principles an example that their children may follow.

Article 9

The obligations of beneficence,  non-malificence and justice set forth in this Statement, imply a duty to our children and to future generations, to respect nature and the environment.

Article 10

An individual's autonomy regarding choice of attire should be exercised with regard to the situation in which the attire is to be worn and in accordance with the principles set forth in this Statement.

Article 11

Acts of a sexual nature should be conducted in private between consenting adults in accordance with the principles and articles set forth in this Statement.

Article 12

It is an obligation of all people and authorities to respect and honour the individual human rights as set out in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In relation to the freedom of thought, conscience and religion therein declared, the universal moral principles here declared, in particular those relating to autonomy, justice and honesty, evaluated in the light of all scientifically verifiable information, shall prevail over any right implied by the freedom of religion.

Explanatory notes:
The preamble and proclamation are derived in similarity to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Articles 1 and 2 are based on UDHR 1 and 2. Article 3 is intended to correspond with legal considerations specified in UDHR 6-11. Article 4 implies priority over religiously derived morality. Articles 5 and 6 relate to method of implementation of the eight moral principles. Article 7 is directed against corruption and the interference of religion in politics. Article 8 is directed against religious indoctrination. Article 9 expands the notion of "people" referred to in the preamble to include future people. Article 10 is meant to suggest that the principles of autonomy and privacy, for example, and respect for the utility of others, should be exercised when deciding to wear, for example, a bikini or a burka in a bank. Article 11 is intended to suggest that sex should be conducted with regard to fidelity, honesty and privacy, and should be limited to adults. Article 12 links obligations to rights of the UDHR and clarifies the contradiction in UDHR 18.

This is a draft paper prepared by John L Perkins
Uptated January 2004. Please direct comments to the author.
Background paper