What are Human Rights?
Watch this video and learn about the definition of human rights
Human rights are standards that allow all people to live with dignity, freedom, equality, justice, and peace.
Every person has these rights simply because they are human beings.
They are guaranteed to everyone without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.
Human rights are essential to the full development of individuals and communities.
Many people view human rights as a set of moral principles that apply to everyone.
Example of rights that apply to children
Human rights are also part of international law, contained in treaties and declarations that spell out specific rights that countries are required to uphold.
Countries often incorporate human rights in their own national, state, and local laws.
Characteristics of Human Rights
Why are Human Rights Important?
Human rights reflect the minimum standards necessary for people to live with dignity.
Human rights give people the freedom to choose how they live, how they express themselves, and what kind of government they want to support, among many other things.
Human rights also guarantee people the means necessary to satisfy their basic needs, such as food, housing, and education, so they can take full advantage of all opportunities.
Finally, by guaranteeing life, liberty, equality, and security, human rights protect people against abuse by those who are more powerful.
Watch this video and learn more about your rights
According to the United Nations, human rights: “Ensure that a human being will be able to fully develop and use human qualities such as intelligence, talent, and conscience and satisfy his or her spiritual and other needs."
Where do Human Rights come from?
Learn about the origin and evolution of human rights in this video
The modern human rights era can be traced to struggles to end slavery, genocide, discrimination, and government oppression.
Atrocities during World War II made clear that previous efforts to protect individual rights from government violations were inadequate.
Thus was born the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as part of the emergence of the United Nations (UN).
The UDHR was the first international document that spelled out the “basic civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all human beings should enjoy.”
The declaration was ratified without opposition by the UN General
Assembly on December 10, 1948.
When it was adopted, the UDHR carried great moral weight.
In order to give the human rights listed in the UDHR the force of law, the UN drafted two treaties, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
Together, the UDHR, ICCPR, and ICESCR are known as the International Bill of Human Rights. They contain a comprehensive list of human rights that governments must respect, protect, and fulfill.
Who is Responsible for Upholding Human Rights?
Under human rights treaties, governments have the primary responsibility for protecting and promoting human rights.
However, governments are not solely responsible for ensuring human rights. The UDHR states: “Every individual and every organ of society … shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.”
This provision means that not only the government, but also businesses, civil society, and individuals are responsible for promoting and respecting human rights.
When a government ratifies a human rights treaty, it assumes a legal obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights contained in the treaty.
Governments are obligated to make sure that human rights are protected by both preventing human rights violations against people within their territories and providing effective remedies for those whose rights are violated.
What is my role?
Governments are not the only ones responsible for upholding human rights. The UDHR states:
Every individual and every organ of society … shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.
This means that not only the government, but also businesses, civil society, and individuals are responsible for promoting and respecting human rights. As individuals we are both rights-holders and duty-bearers.
This means that we have both the right to be treated equally in dignity and justice, and also have the responsibility to treat others this way.
The 30 articles of the universal declaration of human rights
Declaration adopted by the in United Nations General Assembly 1948. Drafted by a committee chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt , it was adopted without dissent but with eight abstentions. Among its 30 articles are definitions of civil and political rights (including the rights to life, liberty, and a fair trial) as well as definitions of economic, social, and cultural rights (including the right to social security and to participation in the cultural life of one's community), all of which are owed by UN member states to those under their jurisdiction. It has acquired more juridical status than originally intended and has been widely used, even by national courts, as a means of judging compliance with member states' human-rights obligations.
This video summarizes the 30 articles
1. We Are All Born Free & Equal. We are all born free. We all have our own thoughts and ideas. We should all be treated in the same way.
2. Don’t Discriminate. These rights belong to everybody, whatever our differences.
3. The Right to Life. We all have the right to life, and to live in freedom and safety.
4. No Slavery. Nobody has any right to make us a slave. We cannot make anyone our slave.
5. No Torture. Nobody has any right to hurt us or to torture us.
6. You Have Rights No Matter Where You Go. I am a person just like you!
7. We’re All Equal Before the Law. The law is the same for everyone. It must treat us all fairly.
8. Your Human Rights Are Protected by Law. We can all ask for the law to help us when we are not treated fairly.
9. No Unfair Detainment. Nobody has the right to put us in prison without good reason and keep us there, or to send us away from our country.
10. The Right to Trial. If we are put on trial this should be in public. The people who try us should not let anyone tell them what to do.
11. We’re Always Innocent Till Proven Guilty. Nobody should be blamed for doing something until it is proven. When people say we did a bad thing we have the right to show it is not true.
12. The Right to Privacy. Nobody should try to harm our good name. Nobody has the right to come into our home, open our letters, or bother us or our family without a good reason.
13. Freedom to Move. We all have the right to go where we want in our own country and to travel as we wish.
14. The Right to Seek a Safe Place to Live. If we are frightened of being badly treated in our own country, we all have the right to run away to another country to be safe.
15. Right to a Nationality. We all have the right to belong to a country.
16. Marriage and Family. Every grown-up has the right to marry and have a family if they want to. Men and women have the same rights when they are married, and when they are separated.
17. The Right to Your Own Things. Everyone has the right to own things or share them. Nobody should take our things from us without a good reason.
18. Freedom of Thought. We all have the right to believe in what we want to believe, to have a religion, or to change it if we want.
19. Freedom of Expression. We all have the right to make up our own minds, to think what we like, to say what we think, and to share our ideas with other people.
20. The Right to Public Assembly. We all have the right to meet our friends and to work together in peace to defend our rights. Nobody can make us join a group if we don’t want to.
21. The Right to Democracy. We all have the right to take part in the government of our country. Every grown-up should be allowed to choose their own leaders.
22. Social Security. We all have the right to affordable housing, medicine, education, and childcare, enough money to live on and medical help if we are ill or old.
23. Workers’ Rights. Every grown-up has the right to do a job, to a fair wage for their work, and to join a trade union.
24. The Right to Play. We all have the right to rest from work and to relax.
25. Food and Shelter for All. We all have the right to a good life. Mothers and children, people who are old, unemployed or disabled, and all people have the right to be cared for.
26. The Right to Education. Education is a right. Primary school should be free. We should learn about the United Nations and how to get on with others. Our parents can choose what we learn.
27. Copyright. Copyright is a special law that protects one’s own artistic creations and writings; others cannot make copies without permission. We all have the right to our own way of life and to enjoy the good things that art, science and learning bring.
28. A Fair and Free World. There must be proper order so we can all enjoy rights and freedoms in our own country and all over the world.
29. Responsibility. We have a duty to other people, and we should protect their rights and freedoms.
30. No One Can Take Away Your Human Rights.
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