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Human Rights: The Inherent Rights

A man is always born free. The day from his birth, he is considered as a free individual. He is not restricted within any confinements. He belongs to the society to which he is born and he should be considered as a part of that society. The society is packed with whole big bunch of individuals and to bring peace and order in the society, the basic humanitarian rights are to be necessarily included.

Concept of human rights

The meaning of the word HUMAN RIGHTS can be understood from the term itself, the rights which are justified for humanly nature or the rights for humanitarian purposes. An individual is availed with a plethora of basic human rights. The human beings have an appropriate natural human tendency of acquiring their rights and with that their selfishness or the self interest or their urge to own things of their own got expanded. With this , there became an ultimate need of implementing some responsibilities and rights of the individuals.

Human Rights are the formulation of the spirit of human civilization. From the day , the human beings started evolving their interests expanded as well. To run a smooth , disciplined and peaceful life they felt the need of holding certain rights for their well being. They even desired of living a dignified life in the society and therefore all this paved the way for human rights. Human Rights are inalienable or instinctual rights and thus these rights neither can be denied nor ignored.

Human Rights are necessary for the day to day existence. These rights enable the individuals to built their mental strength, ability and confidence. They will become more accurate and desirous to live a dignified life. Human rights cannot be restricted totally as well as partially. Human rights effect the lives of people in all aspects such as socially, culturally, economically etc. These fundamental rights award them with a respected life. Human rights are enabled in the society for the individuals to award them with equality and dignity. But still there were certain oppression for some group of people, that is somewhere privileged of some rights and some not.

For instances:
Some on the basis of racial discrimination and some on the basis of economic status etc.

Human Rights are basic fundamental rights or moral principles which provides equal protection and rights for all individual irrespective of aspects such cast, creed, sex, race, religion. Human Rights defenestrate the violations or infringements suffered by individuals which could be slavery or tortured for being an outcast, infringed the right of freedom of speech and expression etc.
Human Rights can be termed as natural rights , inherent rights, basic rights, inalienable rights. These rights are fragile in nature and are protected carefully by law. The roots of human rights can also be traced from Greek philosophy.

The human rights can also be traced back in the Persian empire of ancient Iran, which is said to be considered as one of the earliest empires. Ultimately, In the 6th century, the Achaemenid Persian empire of ancient Iran formulated a set of principles of human rights.

Cyrus the great, who was the king of the Achaemenid empire inscribed a set of principles of human rights on the Cyrus cylinder, which is said to be one of the oldest proclamation of human rights. He declared that citizens of his empire were now onwards free to profess the religious beliefs they want and along with that the slavery were abolished as well.

Human rights are those rights which could be invoked against the government and in return individuals will be awarded with the rights which were violated.
Maurice Cranston, an eminent scholar in political science (1957) stated that, Human Rights are matters of paramount importance and their violation a grave affront to justice.


Development of Human Rights in ancient India through the concept of Vedas, as well as in modern India.

Ancient sages in the Vedic period were of the view that human rights were inseparably connected with the society for the enhancement of mankind. According to them, individuals were entitled to live in the society with dignity and with the reputed status and it has been precisely said in Rigveda and Atharvaveda. As the individuals started forming their own families, there came an urge to fulfil their demands and with this implementation of human rights it became effective.

Discussing in detail about the modern period
The British came to Indian subcontinent in 1608. After that with a slow and steady pace they started capturing all the colonies in order to set up their factories. Gradually, with the promulgation of Regulating Act 1773, the British administration got a chance to interfere into the matters of Indians. The people of India started getting suppressed in all the dimensions of the society such as political, economical, cultural. There came the need of formulating a set of humanitarian rights.

The then leaders were under critical situation to save the people from such a tyranny. Several reform movements were conducted by the then famous leaders like Mahatma Gandhi such as civil disobedience movement etc. With that there came the emergence of Constitution of India bill 1895 as a ray of hope for the people of India. The bill was also referred as swaraj bill, which was brought under the guidance of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. This bill got prominence at the time of Indian nationalism.

The bill mainly concentrated on Freedom of speech, Right to privacy etc. The Motilal Nehru Report of 1928 demanded for inalienable fundamental Rights and this was basically inspired from the American Bill of Rights.

Accordingly, the constituent assembly had appointed an advisory committee on fundamental rights on Jan 24 1947. It was headed by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. They discussed the rights of all sections such as the citizens, tribal, minorities and excluded class of people. Before that sapru committee of 1945 stated that fundamental rights must be included in the constitution and accordingly they were bifurcated into two parts justifiable and non justifiable.

Justifiable rights means which is enforceable in the court of law . It is incorporated in part III and non justifiable means the directions given to the state to take all necessary measures to implement those rights. It is called as directive principles of state policies which is contained in part IV. Therefore, in such a way The Constitution of India came into existence. The main fundamental rights concentrated was Article 14 Right to Equality
  • Article 15 Prohibition of discrimination on the basis of caste creed , religion, color, sex
  • Article 19 freedom of speech and expression
  • Article 21 protection of life and personal liberty
Some of these rights were very important.
Basically, the fundamental rights in the constitution of India forms a base for human rights in India.
Development of human rights world wide through certain landmark documents

Magna Carta:

One among the main documents or bill is Magna Carta. Magna Carta which is also known as the Great English Charter, was granted by king John of England on June 15 1215. This charter is said to be the first charter of liberty. The charter was brought in order to oppress the unjust arbitrary acts and powers of the king. The charter was also a relief to those people who were forced to pay hefty amount of tax. Therefore, king john under the pressure of his subjects were compelled to sign the charter, as the subjects refused of paying such heavy taxes. The 63 clauses of the charter provided with some civil and legal rights to the people. Thus, magna carta paved the way for many other charters.

Social Contract Theory

A society is the outcome of group of people. Individuals contribute to the society and society in return contribute to the individuals. One cannot survive without the other and therefore, both are inseparable. As the individuals started to evolve , their need of expanding the society and promoting it also evolved. There felt a need of bringing societal ties with the administrative bodies in the society. Likewise, a contract was formed by the individuals of the society.

Hence, a social contract theory is an act by which the individuals agree upon to form the government. The government was formed to fulfil the justifiable demands of the people and to redress their grievances. Neither the government can unnecessarily interfere in the lives of the individuals nor the individuals can go against the governmental orders. Social contract theory connect its roots with natural law.

The main proponents of social contract theory are Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau . Thomas Hobbes were said to be the pioneer of social contract theory. But then also, some of the origins of social contract theory could be traced back from Plato as well. According to Plato, with the formulation of social contract theory, the people agreed to be tied up with the society.
In short, social contract theory formed the base of society , it brought a new dimension to the society.

English Bill of Rights 1689

As the monarchical supremacies were increasing, there felt a need to bring warmth among the subjects. Accordingly, the British parliament passed an act called English bill of rights. It was passed on December 16, 1689. The bill was signed in 1689 after the glorious revolution of 1688. After the bill got signed, the unwanted monarchical supremacy got declined and it gave rise to parliamentary powers. The parliament got the supremacy to look into the matters of the subject.

The english bill of rights was brought to overthrow the tyrannical power of King James II. He exploited the powers in his hand, which resulted in tension between king and the parliament. As a result to remove him, the act was passed and it was signed by the protestant daughter of king James II, Queen Mary II and her Dutch husband, William III (William of Orange).
They agreed to the clauses of the Act and agreed to co jointly rule along with the powers of the parliament.

Some of the key features of English Bill of Rights were:

  1. Freedom of speech and epression in parliament.
  2. Freedom to elect members to the parliament without the king or queen's interference.
  3. Arbitrary courts are to be abolished.
  4. No levying of taxes without the consent of parliament.
  5. Freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.
  6. Freedom to bear arms for self defense .
  7. Right to send petition to the king

American Declaration of Independence

The American Declaration of Independence is the proclamation by the second continental congress meeting which was held at the Pennsylvania state house, now known as The Independence Hall. The American declaration of Independence was brought to revolt against the powers of British. America was the colony of Britain. There were 13 colonies in America.

The British government made a rule that expenses procured by these colonies in their administration should be given to the British. The colonies in America were against this rule. To implement this rule, the British people brought certain measure to impose tax system.

The American colonies were of the view that there were no representatives in the British parliament and without a representative in the parliament, they will not pay the tax. No Representative, No Tax was their slogan. On July 4 1776, the America got independence. The American Declaration of Independence was chartered on July 4 1776. It was drafted by Thomas Jefferson

US Bill Of Rights:

James Madison proposed 12 amendments in the bill of rights. Among that, ten of the amendments were ratified by the state legislature. These ten amendments came to be known as Bill Of Rights. The first ten amendments of the American constitution represent the American Bill of Rights. Therefore, in this American Bill of Rights was drafted in 1791.The US bill of rights formed the base for human rights.

Some of the main amendments are as follows:

  1. Right to due process of law
  2. Freedom of religion
  3. Freedom of expression
  4. Freedom of Assembly
  5. Abolish the practice of slavery
  6. Grant the right to vote for women
  7. Right to vote for minority category.

French Declaration of the Man and Citizen:

The French Declaration of the Man and Citizen is a document formulated by the France's National constituent assembly. It was an outcome of the French revolution. It mainly concentrated on the human rights.

The so called document completely swept away the feudalism and brought equality.

It was formulated on 17 August, 1989. The slogan of French declaration of rights of citizen and man was LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY . With the emergence of this document, all political association were in pace to preserve natural rights to all men namely, Liberty, Right to property, Right to security, Resistance of oppression. The other elements of this document are taxes can be levied only with the consent of the citizen , no men can be arrested or detained except in the cases required. From this, one could infer that the human rights started getting prominence world wide and it started getting recognition by every country.

League of nations

League of nations was the first international governmental organization for human rights. The league of nation was the effect of first world war . As there were a huge destruction to the properties, threat to the life of the people, many were deprived of their basic fundamental rights. To overcome all these crisis, this organization was set up.

The organization was formed with the signing Paris peace conference at the end of first world war. Woodrow Wilson was the architect of league of nations . The league of nations was formed at the negotiations of Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Many of the rights enumerated in the league of nation is now contained in Universal Declaration Of Human Rights. The main motive of league of nations was to bring peace after the war, disarmament, settling disputes between countries through negotiations, preventing war through collective security.

International Labor Organization

International Labor Organization was also a part of league of nations. Now it has become a part of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The main motive of ILO was to provide equal employment opportunities for men and women ,also to provide liberty, security and freedom in the work place

Therefore, league which started a peace keeping organization later it did not fulfil the requirements of the people. The intra states were also not functioning in harmony with each other. This resulted in the fall of league of nations

Universal Declaration Of Human Rights:

During the second world war, after the fall of league of nation, there felt a need of a new organization for maintaining peace as the situations started getting worse during the second world war. As a result of this , United nations organization was established on 24 October 1945 . The main aim of this organization was to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, and to achieve international cooperation.

To emphasize more on human rights , the universal declaration of human rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. The Universal declaration of human rights compelled the signatory states to award the individuals with social, cultural, political, economical rights. The UDHR was framed by members of Human Rights Commission. Eleanor Roosevelt was the chairperson of Universal Declaration Of Human Rights.

During the second world war, the allies urged for the need of four main freedom- freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, freedom from fear without any distinction on caste, sex, religion, economic status. Also, the atrocities of Nazi Germany were increasing and the UN did not provide with sufficient aid to the individuals. The UDHR then took up the matters of such atrocities.

The UDHR consist of a Preamble and 30 Articles for providing equal rights to the individuals which is enumerated in the following order:
  1. Article 1- 2 deals with the basic concept of dignity, liberty and equality
  2. Article 3-5 deals with other individual rights such right to life, freedom from slavery and torture.
  3. Article 6 - 11 deals with fundamental legality of human rights with specific remedies awarded for their defense when violated.
  4. Article 12-17 deals with the rights if individuals towards community such as freedom of movement.
  5. Article 18- 21 deals with the constitutional rights with political freedom such as freedom of thought, opinion, religion, conscience, word and peaceful association
  6. Article 22- 27 deals with economic, social, cultural rights including health care rights.
  7. Article 28 - 30 deals with the ways to use this rights and where not to use this rights.

The UDHR got world wide recognition as a powerful international body which dealt with all the matters concerning human rights. The organizations like Amnesty International promoted Universal Declaration Of Human Rights. The UDHR was established in order to give emphasis to the words Freedom and Human Rights. India was also a signatory of UDHR. Gradually, the Constitution of India was adopted by the constituent assembly. The articles enumerated in the indian constitution forms a base for Human Rights in India. India was highly influenced by the UDHR. It is not binding, but is accepted by all the nations.

Under UDHR, some of the covenants were also classified under the following heads:

International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights (ICCPR)
The ICCPR is adopted by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2200A(XXI) in 1966. The covenant mainly concentrated on civil and political rights. The ICCPR has its root in International Bill of Rights

It contains 53 Articles and it is divided into six parts.
1st part- Preamble

2nd part- General Articles 1 to 3 and 5 and article 2 deals with proper execution of remedies. Article 4 deals with

  1. Right to life
  2. Rights in emergency
  3. Prohibition of torture, cruel or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment
  4. prohibition of slavery.
  5. prohibition of imprisonment merely on the ground of inability to fulfil a contractual obligation.
  6. Right of Recognition everywhere as a person before law.

3rd Part- Article 6 to 27

  1. Article 6 - Right to life
  2. Article 7- Prohibition of torture
  3. Article 8- Prohibition of slavery.
  4. Article 9-Right to liberty and security of person and freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  5. Article 11- prohibition of infringement merely on the ground of inability to fulfil a contractual obligation.
  6. Article 12- Right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose residence and right not to be arbitrarily deprived of entering his own country
  7. Article 16- Right to be recognized everywhere as a person before law.
  8. Article 19 - Right to freedom of opinion and expression
  9. Article 21- Right to peaceful assembly.
  10. Article 23- Right to marry and form a family.
  11. Article 26- Equality before law.

4th Part- Article 28 deals with establishment of human rights commission and it shall consist of 18 members. The members shall be elected and shall serve in their personal capacity.
Part 5 and 6 deals with other basic details of the covenant.

Therefore, the main aim of ICCPR was to implement civil and political rights such as freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, right to life.

International Covenant On Economic, Social And Cultural Rights


The ICESCR was also a multilateral treaty adopted by the united nations general assembly. The covenant looked upon the economic, social and cultural right such as Right to Education, Right to Health, labor rights. ICESR is also a part of International Bill Of Rights. The roots of ICESR can also be traced from the UDHR.

Right to Religion - Article 13

Right to form trade union and to join the trade union of choice- Article 8
Right to work- Article 6 are some of the important Articles. The International Covenant On Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are monitored by the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

Rosa parks, an American activist on civil rights who is called as the First lady of Civil Rights and the Mother freedom Movement were the earliest activists of civil rights. She was famous for her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott, where she was forced to give away her seats for the whites.

Her fearless move towards this approach made her world recognized icon of civil rights.

They were imprisoned, they were abused, they were harassed but then also they did not give up their fight for achieving their basic fundamental rights to the people. Therefore, Human rights are not some usual rights which took birth one fine day, it originated with the blood and sweat of such fearless and staunch activists and that is why it is said that Human Rights are inalienable and irrevocable rights

End Notes:
  • Constitution of India- Article 14
  • Constitution of India- Article 15
  • Constitution of India- Article 19
  • Constitution of India- Article 21
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    Article 1-2
    Article 3-5
    Article 6-11
    Article 12-17
    Article 18-21
    Article 22-27
    Article 28- 30
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights- 53 Articles
  • International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights
    Article 13
    Article 8
    Article 6
Books:
  • Human Rights and the law : Universal and Indian by Paras Diwan
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: Cases, Materials and Commentary by Jenny Schultz, Melissa Castan, Sarah Joseph
  • The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Commentary, Cases, and Materials, Book by Ben Saul, David Kinley, and Jacqueline Mowbray
  • The International Human Rights Movement: A History, Book by Aryah Neier

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