Human rights are rights and freedoms that all people should have.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
Today, the ideas of human rights are protected as legal rights in national and international law. They are seen as universal, which means they are meant for everyone, no matter what their race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, age, sex, political beliefs (or any other kind of beliefs), intelligence, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity are.
Every person has all of these rights, it is not possible to only grant some of them:
All human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and related. The international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis.
History[change | change source]
The idea of human rights originated from ideas found in religion and philosophy in Western Europe. The modern Western idea of human rights started in the European Enlightenment. In the 16th century, some people started suggesting that everyone had the religious and political right to choose their religion and their leaders. This sort of thinking was important in the English Civil War. After the war, the philosopher John Locke argued that people should have a certain set of human rights. These ideas were also important in the American revolution and the French revolution in the 18th century.
In the 19th century, John Stuart Mill was an important philosopher who also thought about human rights. He said that people should be able to control their own bodies and minds. He talked about three special ideas:
- own property
- make contracts with other people
- make moral promises to people
- live with anyone
- get protection from laws
- have a voice in government
Laws[change | change source]
Because people believe that human rights are important, countries make laws to protect them. These laws say that governments cannot take away people's basic rights. They make sure people who take away other people's rights are punished. However, many countries in the world do not protect the human rights of their people.
Some major political groups and countries have made statements that promote human rights. Many governments and international groups punish human rights violators by refusing to trade with them, or even helping groups that want to overthrow their governments.
In 1948 the United Nations made the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is a widely respected document that lists what the United Nations believes are human rights. It is not a law, but two important agreements have been written based on its ideas:
- The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
These are United Nations human rights Covenants: agreements between people or countries. The countries who sign these two covenants agree to follow them.
In addition to those Declaration and Covenants, there are many treaties and documents made by United Nations and other international organizations. Those treaties and documents are called "International human rights law".
List of human rights[change | change source]
Not everyone agrees on what the basic human rights are. It is clear that few countries permit all these rights. Also, there are countries in which the rights are not illegal, but nothing is done to promote them. Here is a list of some of the most recognized rights:
Fundamental rights[change | change source]
Safety[change | change source]
- Safety from violence (physical, mental and sexual)
- To seek asylum if a country treats you badly
- Fair trial, and to be considered innocent until proven guilty
General life freedoms[change | change source]
- The right to get an education
- Health care (medical care)
- To believe and practice the religion a person wants
[change | change source]
- Right to marriage and family
- Equality of both males and females; women's rights
- Not be forced into marriage
- The right to express his or her sexual orientation
Political freedoms[change | change source]
- The right to express yourself: free speech
- To vote
- To peacefully protest (speak against) a government or group
- To petition
Abuses[change | change source]
Human rights abuses are when a person is hurt in a way that violates (goes against) his/her human rights. Human rights abuses are also often called human rights violations.
- Examples of human rights abuses or violations are:
- Arresting someone because they said the government is doing bad things
- Not letting people practice their religion
- Not letting a member of a country vote.
Many people, groups, and countries think protecting human rights is very important. But not everyone in the world believes in human rights. If people who do not believe in human rights have political power they can hurt many people. Even if these people have no political power, they can be violent to other people. There are many people who work to protect everyone's human rights; some of these are government groups, and some are not with any government. They are sometimes called human rights organizations. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are examples of human rights organizations.
In the UK, every Act of Parliament must comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. Nonetheless, a person can challenge an Act if it violates the Convention. However, the Government are not bound to change the law due to incompatibility, and they have the power to pass a law that contravenes with the Human Rights, if they wish.
Related pages[change | change source]
- United Nations Human Rights Council
- United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
- United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights
- World peace
- Women's rights
- Children's rights