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Human Rights

Rights to which people are entitled simply because they are human beings, regardless of their nationality, race, ethnicity, gender, or religion.

Tina S
Tina S
Jan 4, 2010
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Human rights are "basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled."


The doctrine of human rights aims to identify the necessary positive and negative prerequisites for a "universal" minimal standard of justice, tolerance & human dignity that can be considered a public moral imperative.

In other words, Human rights are international norms that help to protect all people everywhere from severe political, legal, and social abuses. 

What are the human rights?

Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, gender, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.

These rights exist in morality and in law at the national and international levels. They are addressed primarily to governments, requiring compliance and enforcement. The main sources of the contemporary conception of human rights are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations, 1948b) and the many human rights documents and treaties that followed in international organizations such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Organization of American States, and the African Union.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Human rights are universal and belong to everyone equally. The origin of Principles one and two is in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The aim of this Declaration was to set basic minimum international standards for the protection of the rights and freedoms of the individual.
 
This Declaration sets out a list of over two dozen specific human rights that countries should respect and protect. 

These specific rights can be divided into six or more families:
 
security rights that protect people against crimes such as murder, massacre and torture;due process rights that protect against abuses of the legal system such as imprisonment without trial, secret trials, and excessive punishments; 

liberty rights that protect freedoms in areas such as belief, expression, association, assembly, and movement; 
 
political rights that protect the liberty to participate in politics through actions such as communicating, assembling, protesting, voting, and serving in public office; 

equality rights that guarantee equal citizenship, equality before the law, and nondiscrimination; and 

social (or "welfare") rights that require provision of education to all children and protections against severe poverty and starvation. 

Another family that might be included is group rights.

The Universal Declaration does not include group rights, but subsequent treaties do. Group rights include protections of ethnic groups against genocide and the ownership by countries of their national territories and resources.

Human rights are political norms dealing mainly with how people should be treated by their governments and institutions.

Which Rights are Human Rights?

Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law, general principles and other sources of international law. 

International human rights law lays down obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.

Human rights arise in regard to many families of human rights. 

Discussed below are (1) civil and political rights; (2) social, economic and cultural rights; (3) minority and group rights; and (4) environmental rights.

Civil and Political Rights
 
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and expression. This right includes freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through any other medium of one's choice. (American Convention on Human Rights, article 13.1)
 
Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests (European Convention, article 11).

Every citizen shall have the right to participate freely in the government of his country, either directly or through freely chosen representatives in accordance with the provisions of the law. 2. Every citizen shall have the right of equal access to the public service of his country. 3. Every individual shall have the right of access to public property and services in strict equality of all persons before the law (African Charter, article 13).
 
Social, Economic and Cultural rights
 
The Declaration begins by laying down its basic premise that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." The Declaration then goes on to give content to its understanding of equality by prohibiting any distinction in the enjoyment of human rights on such grounds as race, cooler, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
 
Touching other aspects of the daily lives of people, the Declaration proclaims the right to social security and to the economic, social and cultural right indispensable to human dignity and the free development of each individual's personality. These rights are to be realised through national efforts and international co-operation in accordance with conditions in each state.
 
Minority and Group Rights
 
Human rights documents emphasize that all people, including women and members of minority ethnic and religious groups, have the same basic rights and should be able to enjoy them without discrimination. The right to freedom from discrimination figures prominently in the Universal Declaration and subsequent treaties. 
Some standard individual rights are especially important to ethnic and religious minorities, including rights to freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and freedom from discrimination. 

Environmental rights
 
There are two basic conceptions of environmental human rights in the current human rights system. 
The first is that the right to a healthy or adequate environment is itself a human.
 
The second conception is the idea that environmental human rights can be derived from other human rights, usually - the right to life, the right to health, the right to private family life and the right to property (among many others). This second theory enjoys much more widespread use in human rights courts around the world, as those rights are contained in many human rights documents.
 
Environmental Rights revolve largely around the idea of a right to a livable environment both for the present and the future generations.

Both Rights and Obligations

Human rights entail both rights and obligations. States assume obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfill human rights. The obligation to respect means that States must refrain from interfering with or curtailing the enjoyment of human rights. 
 
The obligation to protect requires States to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses. The obligation to fulfill means that States must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights. At the individual level, while we are entitled our human rights, we should also respect the human rights of others.

Crime and Punishment
 
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the "right to life". According to many Human Rights activists, the death penalty violates these rights. The United Nations also called on retentionist states to establish a moratorium on Capital Punishment with a view to abolition. States which do not face considerable moral and political pressure. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights also prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment. 
 
Countries have argued that "enhanced interrogation methods", which amount to torture, are needed for national security. Human rights activists have also criticized some methods used to punish criminal offenders. For example, Corporal Punishment is also an issue.
 
One example is Caning, used in Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore is considered to be cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.
 
In Mexico, Life Imprisonment without parole is also considered to be cruel and unusual punishment. Other issues, such as Police Brutality and impunity for Human Rights violators are also serious issues.

 
 

 

Author's note: Shormy
Keywords: Human Rights,Universal Declaration,political,social,economic,citizen,minority,obligations,enhanced interrogation methods,punishment,imprisonment,violators,Council of Europe.



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