Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in
the world, from birth until death. They can never be taken away, although they
can sometimes be restricted, for example, if a person breaks the law or national
securities. The basic human rights are the right to life, the right to dignity,
fairness, equality, respect, and independence. Human rights are universal in
application, and they apply irrespective of one's origin, status, condition, or
place of residence. Human rights are enforceable without a national border.
Human beings are the same regardless of race, sex, religion, political or other
opinion, or national or social origin.
We are all born free, equal in dignity and rights. Magna Carta is primarily
considered as the oldest officiated document of human rights. The tax rights
were settled in this document. Then, Human Rights improved or enhanced in
petition of rights, 1628. The bill of rights 1689 set out certain basic civil
rights. The Virginia declaration, 1776 affirmed that all men are by nature
equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights. The Constitution
of the USA,1787 with amendments in 1789, 1865, 1869, 1919 specified the
fundamental right of a man.
The French declaration 1789, UDHR 1948, and International covenant 1966 are some
other important declarations in the evolution Of Human rights. The International
bill of human rights consist of UDHR(United Declaration of Human Rights),
ICCPR(International covenant on Civil and political rights) and
ICESCR(International covenant on Economic, social and cultural rights).
Evolution Of Human Rights
- Magna Carta:
Magna Carta also known as "Great Charter", is a charter of rights agreed to
by King John of England, on 15th June 1215, to make peace between the
unpopular king and a group of people, it promised the protection of church
- Petition of Rights, 1628:
A statement of Civil liberties sent by the English parliament of Charles 1.
Human rights were improved or enhanced in the petition.
- The Bill of Rights, 1689:
Is a landmark Act in the constitutional law of England that sets out certain
basic civil rights.
- The Virginia Declaration, 1776:
This declaration specified a number of fundamental rights of man. The
Virginia declaration of rights affirmed that all men are by nature equally
free and independent and have certain inherent rights.
- Constitution of USA 1787:
The Constitution of the USA 1787 with amendments in 1789, 1865, 1869 and
1919 specified a number of fundamental rights of man.
- The French declaration, 1789:
Inspired by the American declaration of independence, the newly formed
National Assembly proclaimed the declaration of the rights of man and
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948:
As a historic document that was adopted by the United Nations General
Assembly, UDHR is a milestone document in the history of Human rights, it
sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally
- International Covenants 1966:
The United Nations General Assembly adopted two covenants on 16th Dec. 1966,
the international covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and
International covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ICESCR).
Theories of Human Rights
To understand the concept of Human Rights, there are several theories by
- Rights Based On Natural Rights
Underlying such foundational or core rights theory is the omnipresence of
Immanuel Kant's compelling ethics. Kant's ethics maintains that person's
typically have different desires and ends, so any principle derived from
them can only be contingent.Kant's great imperative is that the central
focus of morality is personhood, namely the capacity to take responsibility
as a free and rational agent for one's system of end.Kant's theory overrides
all arbitrary distinctions of race, creed and custom and universal in
Article 1 of UDHR provides: "All Human beings are born free and equal in
dignity". The debt that "inherent dignity" and "inalienable rights" owe to
natural law philosophy is obvious.
- Rights Based On Justice
The thesis of modern philosophy is John Rawls' "A Theory of Justice".
Justice is the first virtue of social institutions,". Human rights, of
course, are an end of justice; hence, the role of justice is crucial to
understanding human rights.
No theory of Human Rights for a domestic or international order in Modern
Society can be advanced today without considering Rawls' thesis.
- Rawls' first principle:
"Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of
equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all".
Rawls' second principle:
Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that the general
conception of justice behind these principles reaches its original position.
- Rights Based On Reaction To Injustice
Professor Edmund Cahn's theory of Justice. Cahn asserts that although there
may be universal a priori truths concerning justice from which one may
deduce rights or norms, it is better to approach justice from its negative
rather than its affirmative side.
Justice means the active process of remedying or preventing what would
arouse the sense of injustice
- Rights Based On Dignity
A number of human rights theorists have tried to construct a comprehensive
system of human rights norms based on a value policy oriented approach
focused on the protection of human dignity.McDougal, Lasswell, and Chen
proceed on the premise that demands for human rights are demands for wide
sharing in all the values upon which human rights depend:
- Rights Based On Equality Of Respect & Concern
Ronald Dworkin, who offers a promising reconciliation theory between natural
rights and utilitarian theories. Dworkin starts with the basic idea of political
morality, which is that governments should care about and respect all of their
citizens in the same way. In the absence of such a premise, there is no valid
way to talk about rights and claims. The utilitarian principle that "everybody
can count for one, nobody for more than one."
- Rights Based On Cultural Relativism
No human rights principles can be said to be self-evident and recognized in all
times and all places. Moral relativism is not very influential in modern
philosophy, but cultural relativism has been used frequently as an argument
against the universality of human rights. No human rights are absolute, that the
principles that one may use for judging behavior are relative to the society in
which one is raised, and that all cultures are morally equal or valid.
Characteristics Of Human Rights
- Inherent- Human Rights are inherent because they are not granted by any
person or authority. Human rights do not have to be bought, earned or
inherited; they belong to people simply because they are human. Human rights
are inherent to each individual
- Fundamental - Human Rights are fundamental rights because without them,
the life and dignity of man will be meaningless.
- Inalienable - Human rights cannot be taken away; no one has the right to
deprive another person of them for any reason. People still have human
rights even when the laws of their countries do not recognize them, or when
they violate them - for example, when slavery is practiced, slaves still
have rights even though these rights are being violated. Human rights are
inalienable. Human Rights are inalienable because:
- They cannot be rightfully taken away from a free individual.
- They cannot be given away or forfeited.
- Imprescriptibly - Human Rights do not prescribe and cannot be lost even if
man fails to use or assert them, even by a long passage of time.
- Indivisible -To live in dignity, all human beings are entitled to
freedom, security and decent standards of living concurrently. Human rights
are indivisible. Human Rights are not capable of being divided. They cannot
be denied even when other rights have already been enjoyed.
- Universal - Human Rights are universal in application and they apply
irrespective of one's origin, status, or condition or place where one lives.
Human rights are enforceable without a national border. Human rights are the
same for all human beings regardless of race, sex, religion, political or
other opinion, national or social origin. We are all born free, and equal in
dignity and rights- human rights are universal.
- Interdependent - Human Rights are interdependent of the other because
the fulfillment or exercise of one cannot be had without the realization.
Generations Of Human Rights
Four Generations of Human Rights, are four overarching types of human rights
norms: civil-political, socio-economic, and collective developmental. The first
two, which represent potential claims of individual persons against the state,
are firmly accepted norms identified in international treaties and conventions.
The last two types, which represent potential claims of peoples and groups
against the state, are the most debated and lack both legal and political
- First Generation
First-generation human rights, sometimes called "blue" rights, deal essentially
with liberty and participation in political life. They are fundamentally civil
and political in nature: They serve negatively to protect the individual from
excesses of the state. First-generation rights include, among other things, the
right to life, equality before the law, freedom of speech, freedom of religion,
property rights, the right to a fair trial, and voting rights. Some of these
rights and the right to due process date back to the Magna Carta of 1215 and the
Rights of Englishmen, which were expressed in the English Bill of Rights in
1689. A more full set of first generation human rights was pioneered in France
by the Declaration of the Rights of Man.
- Second Generation
The second set of human rights have to do with equality, and governments started
to recognise them after World War II. They are fundamentally economic, social,
and cultural in nature. They guarantee different members of the citizenry equal
conditions and treatment. Secondary rights would include a right to be employed
in just and favorable conditions, rights to food, housing, and health care, as
well as social security and unemployment benefits. Like first-generation rights,
they were also covered by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and further
embodied in Articles 22�28 of the Universal Declaration, and the International
Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Some states have enacted some
of these economic rights.
- Third Generation
Third-generation human rights are those rights that go beyond the mere civil and
social, as expressed in many progressive documents of international law,
including the 1972 Stockholm Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the
Human Environment, the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and
other pieces of generally aspirational "soft law."
Also known as Solidarity human rights, they are rights that try to go beyond the
framework of individual rights to focus on collective concepts, such as
community or people.
- Group and collective rights
- Right to self-determination
- Right to a healthy environment Right to natural resources
- Right to communicate and communication rights
- Right to participation in cultural heritage
- Rights to intergenerational equity and sustainability
- Fourth Generation
Several analysts claim that a fourth generation of human rights is emerging,
which would include rights that cannot be included in the third generation,
future claims of first and second generation rights and new rights, especially
in relation to technological development and information and communication
technologies and cyberspace.
However, the content of it is not clear, and these analysts do not present a
unique proposal. They normally take some rights from the third generation and
include them in the fourth, such as the right to a healthy environment or
aspects related to bioethics. Some of those analysts believe that the fourth
generation is given by human rights in relation to new technologies while others
prefer to talk about.
Universal Declaration Of Human RightsUniversal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration that was adopted
by the United Nations General Assembly on 10th Dec. 1948. It declares that Human
Rights are Universal to be enjoyed by all people, no matter who they are or
where they live. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights consists of a
preamble and 30 Articles. Covering both Civil and Political Rights and Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights.
- Article 1 and 2: General
- Article 3-21:- Civil and Political Rights
- Article 22-28:- Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
UDHR can be divided into 6 parts:
- Part 1 (Article 1 and 2): They reaffirm human dignity, equality and
- Part 2 (Article 3-11): They are the rights of the individual and include
Right to life, outlawing of slavery or torture, equality before law, The
Rights to a fair trial etc.
- Part 3 (Article 12-17): They are the rights of individuals within Civil
and Political society. They include freedom of movement, the rights to
nationality, the right to marry and start a family.
- Part 4 (Article 18-21):- They are the spiritual and religious rights of
individuals, such as freedom of thought and conscience, right to your own
opinion, the right to peaceful assembly and association and the right to
vote and take part in government.
- Part 5 (Article 22 - 27):- They are the Social, Economic and Cultural
rights of the individual. They include the right to work, the right to rest
and leisure, the right to a decent standard of living and the right to
- Part 6 (Article 28 - 30):- They remind us that rights come with
obligations, and that none of the rights mentioned in the UDHR can be used to violate the
spirit of the United.
International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights (ICCPR)The ICCPR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The Covenant consists of a preamble and 53 Articles This Covenant is divided
into 6 parts Part 1,2 and 3 describe the various rights and freedoms and part
4,5 and 6 explain the implementation procedure for the effective realization of
- ICCPR is monitored by the United Nations Human Right Committee. It has it's
root in the same process that led to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was adopted on
16th December, 1966 and came into effect on 23rd March, 1976.
- Parts of ICCPR:
- Part 1 (Article 1-3 and 5):- General Right of people's self determination,
Equal right of men and women.
- Part 2 (Article 4):- Right in Emergency
- Part 3 (Article 6-27):- Substantive Rights No one shall be arbitrarily
deprived of his life.
- Sentences of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes.
- Freedom of Movement and freedom.
- Equality before law
- Part 4 (Article 28-45): They provide the procedure for the
implementation of the rights. Which will be monitored by the Human Right
- Part 5 (Article 46-47): Clarifies that the Covenant shall not be
interpreted as interfering with the operation of the United Nations or "the
inherent right of all peoples to enjoy and utilize fully and freely their
natural wealth and resources".
- Part 6 (Article 48-53): Which deals with the formalities of the
ratification and implementation of the Covenant.
- International Covenant On Economic, Social And Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
The ICESCR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and The International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
The ICESCR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and The International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Covenant is monitored by the UN
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The ICESCR has it's root in
the same process that led to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The first document became the International Covenant on Civil and Political
rights, and the second the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16th December, 1966 and
came into effect on 3rd January, 1976.
- Part 1 (Article 1) : Recognizes the rights of all peoples to self
determination including the right to "Freely determine their political
status" pursue their economic, social and cultural goals, and manage and
dispose of their own resources.
- Part 2 (Article 2-5): Establishes the principles of "progressive
realization". It also requires the right be recognized without
discrimination of any kind as to race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other.
- Part 3 (Article 6-15):- Lists the rights:
- Work, under "just and favorable conditions". unions.
- Right to form and join trade Social security, including social
- An adequate standard of living.
- Participation in cultural life.
- Part 4 (Article 16-25): Governs reporting and monitoring of the covenant
and the steps taken by the parties to implement it.
- Part 5 (Article 26-31): Governs ratification, entry into force, and
amendment of the covenant.
- Refugee Crisis
The world is witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. At the end
of 2018, conflict and persecution had displaced an unprecedented 70.8 million
people worldwide. Among them are nearly 30 million refugees, over half of whom
are under the age of 18. There are also millions of stateless people, who have
been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education,
healthcare, employment, and freedom of movement.
While global poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 2000, one in
ten people in developing regions still lives on less than US$1.90 a day - the
internationally agreed poverty line, and millions of others live on slightly
more than this daily amount.
Even in this century, discrimination and suppression are often faced by people
due to Racism. Across the globe, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people
(LGBT) continue to face endemic violence, legal discrimination, and other human
rights violations on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity
Around the world, millions of children are denied a fair chance for no reason
other than the country, gender or circumstances into which they are born. Around
the world, children make up nearly half of the almost 900 million people living
below the poverty line. Their families struggle to afford the basic health care
and nutrition needed to provide them.
- Climate Change and Human Rights
Climate change is one of the greatest threats to human rights of our generation,
posing a serious risk to the fundamentals. rights to life, health, food and an
adequate standard of living of individuals and communities across the world.
Climate change is inducing not only ecological adjustments, but is also
impacting the social, economic, political, cultural and legal aspects of
Terrorism poses a serious threat, The only to international peace and security,
but also to the enjoyment of human rights and social and economic development.
By committing acts of terror, terrorists by definition attack the values at the
heart of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Human rights are also a politically constructed concept: who defines, who gets
benefit, who loses, whose voices are heard, whose voices are silenced.
Developing and mainstreaming human rights into national law are not simply a
regular legislation process, yet there are driving forces both internal and
external factors: social, political, economy, ideology, security matters etc.