Declaration des Droits de l'Homme et
du Citoyen 1789
Declaration of the Rights of Man and
of the Citizen 1789
The Declaration of the Rights of
Man and of the Citizen,
Copy of the
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the
Citizen collated September 30, 1789 and
accepted by King Louis XVI.
Ministère de la
or in French Declaration des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen, was
adopted by the
National Constituent Assembly
on August 26, 1789, and reaffirmed by the
constitution of 1958.
It follows the English translation of the Declaration.
for the original
The representatives of the French people, formed into a National
Assembly, considering ignorance, forgetfulness or contempt of the
rights of man to be the only causes of public misfortunes and the
corruption of Governments, have resolved to set forth, in a solemn
Declaration, the natural, unalienable and sacred rights of man, to
the end that this Declaration, constantly present to all members of
the body politic, may remind them unceasingly of their rights and
their duties; to the end that the acts of the legislative power and
those of the executive power, since they may be continually compared
with the aim of every political institution, may thereby be the more
respected; to the end that the demands of the citizens, founded
henceforth on simple and uncontestable principles, may always be
directed toward the maintenance of the Constitution and the
happiness of all.
In consequence whereof, the National Assembly recognizes and
declares, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme
Being, the following Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social
distinctions may be based only on considerations of the common good.
The aim of every political association is the preservation of the
natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are Liberty,
Property, Safety and Resistance to Oppression.
The source of all sovereignty lies essentially in the Nation. No
corporate body, no individual may exercise any authority that does
not expressly emanate from it.
Liberty consists in being able to do anything that does not harm
others: thus, the exercise of the natural rights of every man has no
bounds other than those that ensure to the other members of society
the enjoyment of these same rights. These bounds may be determined
only by Law.
The Law has the right to forbid only those actions that are
injurious to society. Nothing that is not forbidden by Law may be
hindered, and no one may be compelled to do what the Law does not
The Law is the expression of the general will. All citizens have the
right to take part, personally or through their representatives, in
its making. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or
punishes. All citizens, being equal in its eyes, shall be equally
eligible to all high offices, public positions and employments,
according to their ability, and without other distinction than that
of their virtues and talents.
No man may be accused, arrested or detained except in the cases
determined by the Law, and following the procedure that it has
prescribed. Those who solicit, expedite, carry out, or cause to be
carried out arbitrary orders must be punished; but any citizen
summoned or apprehended by virtue of the Law, must give instant
obedience; resistance makes him guilty.
The Law must prescribe only the punishments that are strictly and
evidently necessary; and no one may be punished except by virtue of
a Law drawn up and promulgated before the offense is committed, and
As every man is presumed innocent until he has been declared guilty,
if it should be considered necessary to arrest him, any undue
harshness that is not required to secure his person must be severely
curbed by Law.
No one may be disturbed on account of his opinions, even religious
ones, as long as the manifestation of such opinions does not
interfere with the established Law and Order.
The free communication of ideas and of opinions is one of the most
precious rights of man. Any citizen may therefore speak, write and
publish freely, except what is tantamount to the abuse of this
liberty in the cases determined by Law.
To guarantee the Rights of Man and of the Citizen a public force is
necessary; this force is therefore established for the benefit of
all, and not for the particular use of those to whom it is
For the maintenance of the public force, and for administrative
expenses, a general tax is indispensable; it must be equally
distributed among all citizens, in proportion to their ability to
All citizens have the right to ascertain, by themselves, or through
their representatives, the need for a public tax, to consent to it
freely, to watch over its use, and to determine its proportion,
basis, collection and duration.
Society has the right to ask a public official for an accounting of
Any society in which no provision is made for guaranteeing rights or
for the separation of powers, has no Constitution.
Since the right to Property is inviolable and sacred, no one may be
deprived thereof, unless public necessity, legally ascertained,
obviously requires it, and just and prior indemnity has been paid.