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Human Rights (UDHR)

Human rights
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

— Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[16]


Human rights are moral principles or norms[1] that describe certain standards of human behaviour and are
regularly protected as natural and legal rights in municipal and international law.[2] They are commonly understood
as inalienable,[3] fundamental rights "to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human
being"[4] and which are "inherent in all human beings",[5] regardless of their nation, location, language, religion,
Contents
ethnic origin or any other status.[3] They are applicable everywhere and at every time in the sense of being universal,[1] History of the concept
and they are egalitarian in the sense of being the same for everyone.[3] They are regarded as requiring empathy and 16th–18th century
the rule of law[6] and imposing an obligation on persons to respect the human rights of others,[1][3] and it is generally 19th century
20th century
considered that they should not be taken away except as a result of due process based on specific circumstances;[3] for
example, human rights may include freedom from unlawful imprisonment, torture and execution.[7] Philosophy
Criticism
The doctrine of human rights has been highly influential within international law, global and regional institutions.[3] Classification
Actions by states and non-governmental organisations form a basis of public policy worldwide. The idea of human Indivisibility
rights[8] suggests that "if the public discourse of peacetime global society can be said to have a common moral Categorisation
language, it is that of human rights". The strong claims made by the doctrine of human rights continue to provoke Three generations
considerable scepticism and debates about the content, nature and justifications of human rights to this day. The International protection and promotion
precise meaning of the term right is controversial and is the subject of continued philosophical debate;[9] while there United Nations Charter
is consensus that human rights encompasses a wide variety of rights[5] such as the right to a fair trial, protection Universal Declaration of Human Rights
International treaties
against enslavement, prohibition of genocide, free speech[10] or a right to education (including the right to
Customary international law
comprehensive sexuality education, among others), there is disagreement about which of these particular rights
International humanitarian law
should be included within the general framework of human rights;[1] some thinkers suggest that human rights should
United Nations system
be a minimum requirement to avoid the worst-case abuses, while others see it as a higher standard.[1][11] In the light Political bodies
of emerging neurotechnologies, four new rights were identified: the right to cognitive liberty, the right to mental Security Council
privacy, the right to mental integrity, and the right to psychological continuity.[12][13] General Assembly
Human Rights Council
Many of the basic ideas that animated the human rights movement developed in the aftermath of the Second World Treaty bodies
War and the events of the Holocaust,[6] culminating in the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Regional human rights regimes
Paris by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Ancient peoples did not have the same modern-day conception Human rights promotion
of universal human rights.[14] The true forerunner of human rights discourse was the concept of natural rights which Non-governmental actors
appeared as part of the medieval natural law tradition that became prominent during the European Enlightenment Non-governmental organisations
with such philosophers as John Locke, Francis Hutcheson and Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui and which featured Human rights defenders
prominently in the political discourse of the American Revolution and the French Revolution.[6] From this foundation, Corporations
the modern human rights arguments emerged over the latter half of the 20th century,[15] possibly as a reaction to Violations
slavery, torture, genocide and war crimes,[6] as a realisation of inherent human vulnerability and as being a Substantive rights
precondition for the possibility of a just society.[5] Right to life
Freedom from torture
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of Freedom from slavery
Right to a fair trial
the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world ...
Freedom of speech
— 1st sentence of the Preamble to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
Freedom of movement

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Rights debates The Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, who ruled from 268 to 232 BCE, established the largest empire in South Asia.
Right to keep and bear arms Following the reportedly destructive Kalinga War, Ashoka adopted Buddhism and abandoned an expansionist policy
Future generations
in favor of humanitarian reforms. The Edicts of Ashoka were erected throughout his empire, containing the 'Law of
Sexual orientation and gender identity
Piety'.[22] These laws prohibited slavery, religious discrimination, and cruelty against both humans and animals.[23]
Trade
Water and sanitation Later documents pertaining to human rights can be referenced in the Constitution of Medina (622), Al-Risalah al-
Sexual and reproductive rights
Huquq (late 7th to early 8th century), Magna Carta (1215), the German Peasants' War Twelve Articles (1525), the
World Health Organisation
English Bill of Rights (1689), the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789), and the Bill of
Information and communication technologies
Rights in the United States Constitution (1791).[1]
Right to non-refoulement vs. right to asylum

Relationship with other topics The statute of Kalisz (1264), bestowed privileges to the Jewish minority in the Kingdom of Poland such as protection
The environment from discrimination and hate speech.[24] Samuel Moyn suggests that the concept of human rights is intertwined with
National security the modern sense of citizenship, which did not emerge until the past few hundred years.[25]
Relativism and universalism
See also
References 16th–18th century
Bibliography 17th-century English philosopher John Locke discussed natural rights in
Books his work, identifying them as being "life, liberty, and estate (property)",
Articles and argued that such fundamental rights could not be surrendered in the
Online social contract. In Britain in 1689, the English Bill of Rights and the
Miscellaneous
Scottish Claim of Right each made illegal a range of oppressive
Further reading governmental actions.[26] Two major revolutions occurred during the
External links 18th century, in the United States (1776) and in France (1789), leading to
the United States Declaration of Independence and the French
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen respectively, both of
History of the concept which articulated certain human rights. Additionally, the Virginia
Declaration of Rights of 1776 encoded into law a number of fundamental
The history of human rights has not been entirely progressive. Many
civil rights and civil freedoms.
established rights would be replaced by other less tolerant systems. Stable
institutions may be uprooted such as in cases of conflict such as war and
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are
terrorism.[17]
created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with Declaration of the Rights of Man and
The earliest conceptualisation of human rights is credited to ideas about certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, of the Citizen approved by the
natural rights emanating from natural law. Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. National Assembly of France, 26
August 1789
The Northeast African civilization of Ancient Egypt[18] supported basic The Cyrus Cylinder, created by king — United States Declaration of
Cyrus the Great, is sometimes
human rights.[19] For example, Pharaoh Bocchoris (725-720 BC) Independence, 1776
argued to be the world's first charter
promoted individual rights, suppressed imprisonment for debt, and of human rights.
reformed laws relating to the transferral of property.[19] These were followed by developments in philosophy of human rights by philosophers such as Thomas Paine, John
Stuart Mill and G.W.F. Hegel during the 18th and 19th centuries. The term human rights probably came into use
The first recording of human rights were inscribed by Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, into some time between Paine's The Rights of Man and William Lloyd Garrison's 1831 writings in The Liberator, in which
the Cyrus Cylinder. The Cyrus Cylinder is a clay tablet created in 539 B.C. soon after the Achaemenid conquest of the he stated that he was trying to enlist his readers in "the great cause of human rights". Although the term had been
Neo-Babylonian Empire. It proclaimed all of his subject to be free and banned the practice of slavery. Additionally it used by at least one author as early as 1742.[27]
stated the freedom to practice one's faith without persecution and forced conversions.[20][21]

19th century

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In the 19th century, human rights became a central concern over the issue of slavery.[6] A number of reformers, The CDHR was signed by member states of the OIC in 1990 at the 19th Conference of Foreign Ministers held in Cairo,
notably British Member of Parliament William Wilberforce, worked towards the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade Egypt. It was seen as the answer to the UDHR. In fact, the CDHR was "patterned after the UN-sponsored UDHR of
and abolition of slavery. This was achieved across the British Empire by the Slave Trade Act 1807, which was enforced 1948".[31] The object of the CDHR was to "serve as a guide for member states on human rights issues. CDHR
internationally by the Royal Navy under treaties Britain negotiated with other nations,[28] and the Slavery Abolition translated the Qur'anic teachings as follows: "All men are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations
Act 1833. In the United States, all the northern states had abolished the institution of slavery between 1777 and 1804, and responsibilities, without any discrimination on the basis of race, colour, language, belief, sex, religion, political
although southern states clung tightly to the "peculiar institution". Conflict and debates over the expansion of slavery affiliation, social status or other considerations. True religion is the guarantee for enhancing such dignity along the
to new territories constituted one of the reasons for the southern states' secession and the American Civil War. During path to human integrity.[31] The CDHR referenced Islamic Sharia [32] which includes Quran, Hadith, prophetic
the reconstruction period immediately following the war, several amendments to the United States Constitution were teachings and Islamic legal tradition.
made. These included the 13th amendment, banning slavery, the 14th amendment, assuring full citizenship and civil
rights to all people born in the United States, and the 15th amendment, guaranteeing African Americans the right to
Philosophy
vote. In Russia, the reformer Tsar Alexander II ended serfdom in 1861,[6] although the freed serfs often faced
restrictions of their mobility within the nation. The philosophy of human rights attempts to examine the underlying basis of the concept of human rights and
critically looks at its content and justification. Several theoretical approaches have been advanced to explain how and
Many groups and movements have achieved profound social changes over the course of the 20th century in the name why human rights have become a part of social expectations.
of human rights. In Europe and North America, labour unions brought about laws granting workers the right to strike,
establishing minimum work conditions and forbidding or regulating child labour. The women's rights movement One of the oldest Western philosophies of human rights is that they are a product of a natural law, stemming from
succeeded in gaining for many women the right to vote. National liberation movements in many countries succeeded different philosophical or religious grounds. Other theories hold that human rights codify moral behaviour which is a
in driving out colonial powers. One of the most influential was Mahatma Gandhi's movement to free his native India human social product developed by a process of biological and social evolution (associated with Hume). Human rights
from British rule. Movements by long-oppressed racial and religious minorities succeeded in many parts of the world, are also described as a sociological pattern of rule setting (as in the sociological theory of law and the work of Weber).
among them the civil rights movement, and more recent movements, on behalf of women and minorities in the United These approaches include the notion that individuals in a society accept rules from legitimate authority in exchange
States. for security and economic advantage (as in Rawls) – a social contract. The two theories that dominate contemporary
human rights discussion are the interest theory and the will theory. Interest theory argues that the principal function
The establishment of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the 1864 Lieber Code and the first of the Geneva of human rights is to protect and promote certain essential human interests, while will theory attempts to establish
Conventions in 1864 laid the foundations of International humanitarian law, to be further developed following the two the validity of human rights based on the unique human capacity for freedom.[33] Other positions attempt to
World Wars. categorise rights into basic types, rather than make claims about the function or derivation of particular rights.[34]

20th century Criticism


The World Wars, and the huge losses of life and gross abuses of human rights that took place during them, were a The claims made by human rights to universality have led to criticism. Philosophers who have criticised the concept of
driving force behind the development of modern human rights instruments. The League of Nations was established in human rights include Jeremy Bentham, Edmund Burke, Friedrich Nietzsche and Karl Marx. Canadian political
1919 at the negotiations over the Treaty of Versailles following the end of World War I. The League's goals included philosophy professor Charles Blattberg argues that discussion of human rights, being abstract, demotivates people
disarmament, preventing war through collective security, settling disputes between countries through negotiation and from upholding the values that rights are meant to affirm.[35] The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy gives particular
diplomacy, and improving global welfare. Enshrined in its charter was a mandate to promote many of the rights later attention to two types of criticisms: the one questioning universality of human rights and the one denying them
included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. objective ground.[36] Alain Pellet, a French scholar on international law, criticises "human rightism" approach as
denying the principle of sovereignty and claiming a special place for human rights among the branches of
At the 1945 Yalta Conference, the Allied Powers agreed to create a new body to supplant the League's role; this was to
international law;[37] French journalist Alain de Benoist questions human rights premises of human equality.[38]
be the United Nations. The United Nations has played an important role in international human-rights law since its
American scholar David Kennedy had listed pragmatic worries and polemical charges concerning human rights in
creation. Following the World Wars, the United Nations and its members developed much of the discourse and the
2002 in Harvard Human Rights Journal.[39]
bodies of law that now make up international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Analyst Belinda
Cooper argued that human rights organisations flourished in the 1990s, possibly as a result of the dissolution of the
western and eastern Cold War blocs.[29] Ludwig Hoffmann argues that human rights became more widely emphasised Classification
in the latter half of the twentieth century because it "provided a language for political claim making and counter-
Human rights can be classified and organised in several different ways. At an international level the most common
claims, liberal-democratic, but also socialist and post colonialist.[30]
categorisation of human rights has been to split them into civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural
Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam rights.

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Civil and political rights are enshrined in articles 3 to 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and in aspirations or goals, as opposed to real 'legal' rights
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Economic, social and cultural rights are enshrined ideologically divisive/political, meaning that there is no consensus on what should or should not be provided as a
right
in articles 22 to 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and in the International Covenant on
non-justiciable, meaning that their provision, or the breach of them, cannot be judged in a court of law
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
positive, meaning that they require active provision of entitlements by the state (as opposed to the state being
required only to prevent the breach of rights)
progressive, meaning that they will take significant time to implement
Indivisibility resource-intensive, meaning that they are expensive and difficult to provide
The UDHR included both economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights because it was based on the socialist, as opposed to capitalist
principle that the different rights could only successfully exist in combination: vague, meaning they cannot be quantitatively measured, and whether they are adequately provided or not is
difficult to judge.

The ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can Similarly civil and political rights are categorized as:

only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as capitalist
well as his social, economic and cultural rights. cost-free
immediate, meaning they can be immediately provided if the state decides to
— International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International justiciable
Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, 1966 negative, meaning the state can protect them simply by taking no action
non-ideological/non-political
This is held to be true because without civil and political rights the public cannot assert their economic, social and precise, meaning their provision is easy to judge and measure
cultural rights. Similarly, without livelihoods and a working society, the public cannot assert or make use of civil or real 'legal' rights
political rights (known as the full belly thesis). Australian politician Olivia Ball and British scholar Paul Gready argue that for both civil and political rights and
economic, social and cultural rights, it is easy to find examples which do not fit into the above categorisation. Among
The indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights has been confirmed by the 1993 Vienna Declaration and
several others, they highlight the fact that maintaining a judicial system, a fundamental requirement of the civil right
Programme of Action:
to due process before the law and other rights relating to judicial process, is positive, resource-intensive, progressive
and vague, while the social right to housing is precise, justiciable and can be a real 'legal' right.[40]
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. Three generations
Another categorisation, offered by Czech-French scholar Karel Vasak, is that there are three generations of human
— Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, World Conference on Human
rights: first-generation civil and political rights (right to life and political participation), second-generation economic,
Rights, 1993
social and cultural rights (right to subsistence) and third-generation solidarity rights (right to peace, right to clean

This statement was again endorsed at the 2005 World Summit in New York (paragraph 121). environment). Out of these generations, the third generation is the most debated and lacks both legal and political
recognition. This categorisation is at odds with the indivisibility of rights, as it implicitly states that some rights can
Although accepted by the signatories to the UDHR, most do not in practice give equal weight to the different types of exist without others. Prioritisation of rights for pragmatic reasons is however a widely accepted necessity. American
rights. Some Western cultures have often given priority to civil and political rights, sometimes at the expense of human rights scholar Philip Alston argues:
economic and social rights such as the right to work, to education, health and housing. Similarly the ex Soviet bloc
countries and Asian countries have tended to give priority to economic, social and cultural rights, but have often failed If every possible human rights element is deemed to be essential or necessary, then nothing will be
to provide civil and political rights. treated as though it is truly important.[41]

Categorisation He, and others, urge caution with prioritisation of rights:

Opponents of the indivisibility of human rights argue that economic, social and cultural rights are fundamentally
[T]he call for prioritizing is not to suggest that any obvious violations of rights can be ignored.
different from civil and political rights and require completely different approaches. Economic, social and cultural
rights are argued to be:
— Philip Alston[41]

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Priorities, where necessary, should adhere to core concepts (such as reasonable attempts at progressive obligation for the members of the United Nations.[43] Overall, the references to human rights in the charter are
realization) and principles (such as non-discrimination, equality and participation. general and vague. The charter does not contain specific legal rights, nor does it mandate any enforcement procedures
to protect these rights.[46] According to Shaw, the importance of human rights on the global stage can be traced to the
— Olivia Ball, Paul Gready[42] importance of human rights within the United Nations framework and the UN Charter can be seen as the starting
point for the development of a broad array of declarations, treaties, implementation and enforcement mechanisms,
Some human rights are said to be "inalienable rights". The term inalienable rights (or unalienable rights) refers to "a
UN organs, committees and reports on the protection of human rights.[46] The rights espoused in the UN charter were
set of human rights that are fundamental, are not awarded by human power, and cannot be surrendered."
codified and defined in a non-binding context within the International Bill of Human Rights, composing the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant
International protection and promotion on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

In the aftermath of the atrocities of World War II, there was increased concern for the social and legal protection of
human rights as fundamental freedoms. The foundation of the United Nations and the provisions of the United Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Nations Charter provided a basis for a comprehensive system of international law and practice for the protection of
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by
human rights. Since then, international human rights law has been characterised by a linked system of conventions,
the United Nations General Assembly[16] in 1948, partly in response to the
treaties, organisations, and political bodies, rather than any single entity or set of laws.[43] However, American analyst
atrocities of World War II. It is generally viewed as the preeminent statement
Pierre Leval suggested that respect for fundamental human rights in the world today (in 2013) is "dismal" within some
of international rights and has been identified as being a culmination of
nations:[44]
centuries of thinking along both secular and religious lines.[48] Although the
UDHR is a non-binding resolution, it is now considered by some to have
Despotic regimes murder, mutilate, and rape civilian populations and arbitrarily imprison and torture
acquired the force of international customary law which may be invoked in
political opponents. Human traffickers, almost invariably operating with the protection of corrupt local
appropriate circumstances by national and other tribunals. The UDHR urges
officials and police, enslave children and young women in the sex trade. So long as the regimes that
member nations to promote a number of human, civil, economic and social "It is not a treaty...[In the future, it]
sponsor and protect these criminals remain in power, their crimes go unrecognized. may well become the
rights, asserting these rights as part of the "foundation of freedom, justice
and peace in the world." The declaration was the first international legal international Magna Carta."[47]
— Pierre N. Leval in Foreign Affairs, 2013[44] Eleanor Roosevelt with the
effort to limit the behaviour of states and press upon them duties to their
Spanish text of the Universal
citizens. Declaration in 1949.
United Nations Charter
...recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and
The provisions of the United Nations Charter provided a basis for the development of international human rights
inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the
protection in the opinion of British barrister Ian Brownlie.[43] The preamble of the charter provides that the members
foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
"reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the equal rights of men and women" and Article 1(3) of the United
Nations charter states that one of the purposes of the UN is: "to achieve international cooperation in solving
— Preamble to the Universal Declaration of
international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging
Human Rights, 1948
respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or
religion".[45] Article 55 provides that: The UDHR was framed by members of the Human Rights Commission, with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt as
Chair, who began to discuss an International Bill of Rights in 1947. The members of the Commission did not
The United Nations shall promote: a) higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of immediately agree on the form of such a bill of rights, and whether, or how, it should be enforced. The Commission
economic and social progress and development; b) solutions of international economic, social, health, proceeded to frame the UDHR and accompanying treaties, but the UDHR quickly became the priority.[49] Canadian
and related problems; c) international cultural and educational cooperation; d) universal respect for, law professor John Humphrey and French lawyer René Cassin were responsible for much of the cross-national
and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, research and the structure of the document respectively, where the articles of the declaration were interpretative of
language, or religion. the general principle of the preamble. The document was structured by Cassin to include the basic principles of
dignity, liberty, equality and brotherhood in the first two articles, followed successively by rights pertaining to
Of particular importance is Article 56 of the charter: "All Members pledge themselves to take joint and separate action individuals; rights of individuals in relation to each other and to groups; spiritual, public and political rights; and
in co-operation with the Organization for the achievement of the purposes set forth in Article 55." This is a binding
treaty provision applicable to both the organization and its members and has been taken to constitute a legal

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economic, social and cultural rights. According to Cassin, the final three articles place rights in the context of limits, Since then numerous other treaties (pieces of legislation) have been offered at the international level. They are
duties and the social and political order in which they are to be realised.[49] Humphrey and Cassin intended the rights generally known as human rights instruments. Some of the most significant, referred to (with ICCPR and ICESCR) as
in the UDHR to be legally enforceable through some means, as is reflected in the third clause of the preamble:[49] "the seven core treaties", are:

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (adopted 1979, entry into
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion force: 1981)
against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) (adopted 1966, entry into force:
1969)
— Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) (adopted 2006, entry into force: 2008)
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (adopted 1989, entry into force: 1989)
Some of the UDHR was researched and written by a committee of international experts on human rights, including United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) (adopted 1984, entry into force: 1987)
representatives from all continents and all major religions, and drawing on consultation with leaders such as International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families
Mahatma Gandhi.[50][51] The inclusion of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights[49][52] was predicated on (ICRMW or more often MWC) (adopted 1990, entry into force: 2003)

the assumption that all human rights are indivisible and that the different types of rights listed are inextricably linked.
This principle was not then opposed by any member states (the declaration was adopted unanimously, Byelorussian Customary international law
SSR, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Ukrainian SSR, Union of South Africa, USSR, Yugoslavia.); however, this
In addition to protection by international treaties, customary international law may protect some human rights, such
principle was later subject to significant challenges.[52]
as the prohibition of torture, genocide and slavery and the principle of non-discrimination.[59]
The Universal Declaration was bifurcated into treaties, a Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and another on social,
economic, and cultural rights, due to questions about the relevance and propriety of economic and social provisions in
International humanitarian law
covenants on human rights. Both covenants begin with the right of people to self-determination and to sovereignty
over their natural resources.[53] This debate over whether human rights are more fundamental than economic rights The Geneva Conventions came into being between 1864 and 1949 as a result of efforts by Henry Dunant, the
has continued to the present day. The United States declared after the World Food Summit that a right to be free from founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The conventions safeguard the human rights of individuals
hunger does not give rise to any international obligations which has been interpreted as a negative duty.[54] involved in armed conflict, and build on the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, the international community's first
attempt to formalise the laws of war and war crimes in the nascent body of secular international law. The conventions
The drafters of the Covenants initially intended only one instrument. The original drafts included only political and were revised as a result of World War II and readopted by the international community in 1949.
civil rights, but economic and social rights were also proposed. The disagreement over which rights were basic human
rights resulted in there being two covenants. The debate was whether economic and social rights are aspirational, as
contrasted with basic human rights which all people possess purely by being human, because economic and social United Nations system
rights depend on wealth and the availability of resources. In addition, which social and economic rights should be Under the mandate of the UN charter, and the multilateral UN human rights treaties, the United Nations (UN) as an
recognised depends on ideology or economic theories, in contrast to basic human rights, which are defined purely by intergovernmental body seeks to apply international jurisdiction for universal human-rights legislation.[60] Within the
the nature (mental and physical abilities) of human beings. It was debated whether economic rights were appropriate UN machinery, human-rights issues are primarily the concern of the United Nations Security Council and the United
subjects for binding obligations and whether the lack of consensus over such rights would dilute the strength of Nations Human Rights Council, and there are numerous committees within the UN with responsibilities for
political-civil rights. There was wide agreement and clear recognition that the means required to enforce or induce safeguarding different human-rights treaties. The most senior body of the UN in the sphere of human rights is the
compliance with socioeconomic undertakings were different from the means required for civil-political rights.[55][56] Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The United Nations has an international mandate to:

This debate and the desire for the greatest number of signatories to human-rights law led to the two covenants. The
achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or
Soviet bloc and a number of developing countries had argued for the inclusion of all rights in a so-called Unity
humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for
Resolution. Both covenants allowed states to derogate some rights. Those in favour of a single treaty could not gain
fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, gender, language, or religion.
sufficient consensus.[57][58]
— Article 1–3 of the United Nations Charter
International treaties
In 1966, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Political bodies

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) were adopted by the United Nations, between them making the
rights contained in the UDHR binding on all states that have signed this treaty, creating human-rights law. Security Council

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The United Nations Security Council has the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and In addition to the political bodies whose mandate flows from the UN charter, the UN has set up a number of treaty-
security and is the only body of the UN that can authorise the use of force. It has been criticised for failing to take based bodies, comprising committees of independent experts who monitor compliance with human rights standards
action to prevent human rights abuses, including the Darfur crisis, the Srebrenica massacre and the Rwandan and norms flowing from the core international human rights treaties. They are supported by and are created by the
Genocide.[61] For example, critics blamed the presence of non-democracies on the Security Council for its failure treaty that they monitor, With the exception of the CESCR, which was established under a resolution of the Economic
regarding.[62] and Social Council to carry out the monitoring functions originally assigned to that body under the Covenant, they are
technically autonomous bodies, established by the treaties that they monitor and accountable to the state parties of
On April 28, 2006 the Security Council adopted resolution 1674 that reaffirmed the responsibility to protect
those treaties - rather than subsidiary to the United Nations. Though in practice they are closely intertwined with the
populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity" and committed the Security
United Nations system and are supported by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) and the UN
Council to action to protect civilians in armed conflict.[63]
Centre for Human Rights.[71]

The Human Rights Committee promotes participation with the standards of the ICCPR. The members of the
General Assembly committee express opinions on member countries and make judgments on individual complaints against
The United Nations General Assembly, under Article 13 of the UN countries which have ratified an Optional Protocol to the treaty. The judgments, termed "views", are not legally
binding. The member of the committee meets around three times a year to hold sessions [72]
Charter, has the power to initiate studies and make recommendations on
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights monitors the ICESCR and makes general comments on
human rights issues.[64] Under this provision, the general assembly ratifying countries performance. It will have the power to receive complaints against the countries that opted into
passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and since the Optional Protocol once it has come into force. It is important to note that unlike the other treaty bodies, the
economic committee is not an autonomous body responsible to the treaty parties, but directly responsible to the
then a wide variety of other human rights instruments.[64] The assembly
Economic and Social Council and ultimately to the General Assembly. This means that the Economic Committee
has several subsidiary organs that deal with specific human rights issues, faces particular difficulties at its disposal only relatively "weak" means of implementation in comparison to other
such as the Special Committee on Decolonisation and the Special treaty bodies.[73] Particular difficulties noted by commentators include: perceived vagueness of the principles of
the treaty, relative lack of legal texts and decisions, ambivalence of many states in addressing economic, social
Commission against Apartheid (no longer operational). In addition the The UN General Assembly
and cultural rights, comparatively few non-governmental organisations focused on the area and problems with
general assembly has set up a number of subsidiary organs that consider obtaining relevant and precise information.[73][74]
human rights issues in a number of high-profile contexts: such as the UN The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination monitors the CERD and conducts regular reviews of
Council on Namibia, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practises in the Occupied territories and the countries' performance. It can make judgments on complaints against member states allowing it, but these are
not legally binding. It issues warnings to attempt to prevent serious contraventions of the convention.
Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable rights of the Palestine People.[65]
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women monitors the CEDAW. It receives states'
reports on their performance and comments on them, and can make judgments on complaints against countries
which have opted into the 1999 Optional Protocol.
Human Rights Council The Committee Against Torture monitors the CAT and receives states' reports on their performance every four
The United Nations Human Rights Council, created at the 2005 World Summit to replace the United Nations years and comments on them. Its subcommittee may visit and inspect countries which have opted into the
Optional Protocol.
Commission on Human Rights, has a mandate to investigate violations of human rights.[66] The Human Rights
The Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors the CRC and makes comments on reports submitted by
Council is a subsidiary body of the General Assembly[67] and reports directly to it. It ranks below the Security Council, states every five years. It does not have the power to receive complaints.
which is the final authority for the interpretation of the United Nations Charter.[68] Forty-seven of the one hundred The Committee on Migrant Workers was established in 2004 and monitors the ICRMW and makes comments on
ninety-one member states sit on the council, elected by simple majority in a secret ballot of the United Nations reports submitted by states every five years. It will have the power to receive complaints of specific violations only
once ten member states allow it.
General Assembly. Members serve a maximum of six years and may have their membership suspended for gross
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was established in 2008 to monitor the Convention on
human rights abuses. The Council is based in Geneva, and meets three times a year; with additional meetings to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It has the power to receive complaints against the countries which have
respond to urgent situations.[69] opted into the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Committee on Enforced Disappearances monitors the ICPPED. All States parties are obliged to submit
Independent experts (rapporteurs) are retained by the Council to investigate alleged human rights abuses and to reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. The Committee examines each report and
addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of "concluding observations”.
provide the Council with reports.
Each treaty body receives secretariat support from the Human Rights Council and Treaties Division of Office of the
The Human Rights Council may request that the Security Council take action when human rights violations occur. High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva except CEDAW, which is supported by the Division for
This action may be direct actions, may involve sanctions, and the Security Council may also refer cases to the the Advancement of Women (DAW). CEDAW formerly held all its sessions at United Nations headquarters in New
International Criminal Court (ICC) even if the issue being referred is outside the normal jurisdiction of the ICC.[70] York but now frequently meets at the United Nations Office in Geneva; the other treaty bodies meet in Geneva. The
Human Rights Committee usually holds its March session in New York City.

Treaty bodies

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Regional human rights regimes Human rights defender are people who, individually or with others, act peacefully to promote or protect human
rights.[81] They can defend rights as part of their jobs or in a voluntary capacity and can act at local, national or
International human rights regimes are in several cases "nested" within more comprehensive and overlapping
international level. They can be journalists, environmentalists, whistle-blowers, trade unionists, lawyers, teachers,
regional agreements. These regional regimes can be seen as relatively independently coherent human rights sub-
housing campaigners, and so on. As a result of their activities, they can sometimes be the subject of reprisals and
regimes.[75] Three principal regional human rights instruments can be identified; the African Charter on Human and
attacks of all kinds, including smears, surveillance, harassment, false charges, arbitrary detention, restrictions on the
Peoples' Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights (the Americas) and the European Convention on Human
right to freedom of association, and physical attacks.[82]
Rights. The European Convention on Human Rights has since 1950 defined and guaranteed human rights and
fundamental freedoms in Europe.[76] All 47 member states of the Council of Europe have signed the Convention and
are therefore under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.[76] Corporations
Multinational companies play an increasingly large role in the world, and have been responsible for numerous human
Human rights promotion rights abuses.[83] Although the legal and moral environment surrounding the actions of governments is reasonably
well developed, that surrounding multinational companies is both controversial and ill-defined. Multinational
Human rights continue to be promoted around the world through governmental organisations and museums
companies' primary responsibility is to their shareholders, not to those affected by their actions. Such companies may
including the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
be larger than the economies of some of the states within which they operate, and can wield significant economic and
political power. No international treaties exist to specifically cover the behaviour of companies with regard to human
Non-governmental actors rights, and national legislation is very variable. Jean Ziegler, a Swiss professor and Special Rapporteur of the UN
Commission on Human Rights on the right to food stated in a report in 2003:

Non-governmental organisations [T]he growing power of transnational corporations and their extension of power through privatization,
International non-governmental human rights organisations such deregulation and the rolling back of the State also mean that it is now time to develop binding legal
as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Service norms that hold corporations to human rights standards and circumscribe potential abuses of their
for Human Rights and FIDH monitor what they see as human rights position of power.
issues around the world and promote their views on the subject. Human
rights organisations have been said to "translate complex international — Jean Ziegler[84]
issues into activities to be undertaken by concerned citizens in their own
In August 2003 the Human Rights Commission's Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights
community".[77] Human rights organisations frequently engage in
produced draft Norms on the responsibilities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises with
lobbying and advocacy in an effort to convince the United Nations,
Visitors to an LGBT Pride event in regard to human rights.[85] These were considered by the Human Rights Commission in 2004, but have no binding
supranational bodies and national governments to adopt their policies on Greece interact with members of a
status on corporations and are not monitored.[86]
human rights. Many human-rights organisations have observer status at non-governmental human rights
the various UN bodies tasked with protecting human rights. A new (in organisation.
2009) non-governmental human-rights conference is the Oslo Freedom Violations
Forum, a gathering described by The Economist as "on its way to
Human rights violations occur when actions by state (or non-state) actors abuse, ignore, or deny basic human
becoming a human-rights equivalent of the Davos economic forum." The same article noted that human-rights
rights (including civil, political, cultural, social, and economic rights). Furthermore, violations of human rights can
advocates are more and more divided amongst themselves over how violations of human rights are to be defined,
occur when any state or non-state actor breaches any part of the UDHR treaty or other international human rights or
notably as regards the Middle East.[78]
humanitarian law.[87] In regard to human rights violations of United Nations laws, Article 39 of the United Nations
There is criticism of human-rights organisations who use their status but allegedly move away from their stated goals. Charter designates the UN Security Council (or an appointed authority) as the only tribunal that may determine UN
For example, Gerald M. Steinberg, an Israel-based academic, maintains that NGOs take advantage of a "halo effect" human rights violations.
and are "given the status of impartial moral watchdogs" by governments and the media.[79] Such critics claim that this
Human rights abuses are monitored by United Nations committees, national institutions and governments and by
may be seen at various governmental levels, including when human-rights groups testify before investigation
many independent non-governmental organisations, such as Amnesty International, International Federation of
committees.[80]
Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, World Organisation Against Torture, Freedom House, International Freedom
of Expression Exchange and Anti-Slavery International. These organisations collect evidence and documentation of
Human rights defenders alleged human rights abuses and apply pressure to enforce human rights laws.

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Wars of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide, are breaches of International Freedom from slavery is internationally recognised as a human right. Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human
humanitarian law and represent the most serious of human rights violations. Rights states:

In efforts to eliminate violations of human rights, building awareness and protesting inhumane treatment has often
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their
led to calls for action and sometimes improved conditions. The UN Security Council has interceded with peace
forms.[94]
keeping forces, and other states and treaties (NATO) have intervened in situations to protect human rights.

Despite this, the number of slaves today (in 2010) is higher than at any point in history,[95] remaining as high as 12
Substantive rights million[96] to 27 million,[97][98][99] Most are debt slaves, largely in South Asia, who are under debt bondage incurred by
lenders, sometimes even for generations.[100] Human trafficking is primarily for prostituting women and children into
sex industries.[101]
Right to life
Groups such as the American Anti-Slavery Group, Anti-Slavery International, Free the Slaves, the Anti-Slavery
Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be Society, and the Norwegian Anti-Slavery Society continue to campaign to rid the world of slavery.
arbitrarily deprived of his life.

— Article 6.1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Right to a fair trial

The right to life is the essential right that a human being has the right not to be killed by another human being. The Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial
concept of a right to life is central to debates on the issues of abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, self defence tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.[102]
and war. According to many human rights activists, the death penalty violates this right.[88] The United Nations has
called on states retaining the death penalty to establish a moratorium on capital punishment with a view to its
The right to a fair trial has been defined in numerous regional and international human rights instruments. It is one of
abolition.[89] States which do not do so face considerable moral and political pressure.
the most extensive human rights and all international human rights instruments enshrine it in more than one
article.[103] The right to a fair trial is one of the most litigated human rights and substantial case law has been
Freedom from torture established on the interpretation of this human right.[104] Despite variations in wording and placement of the various

Throughout history, torture has been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and fair trial rights, international human rights instrument define the right to a fair trial in broadly the same terms.[105]

coercion. In addition to state-sponsored torture, individuals or groups may be motivated to inflict torture on others The aim of the right is to ensure the proper administration of justice. As a minimum the right to fair trial includes the

for similar reasons to those of a state; however, the motive for torture can also be for the sadistic gratification of the following fair trial rights in civil and criminal proceedings:[106]

torturer, as in the Moors murders.


the right to be heard by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal
the right to a public hearing
Since the mid-20th century, torture is prohibited under international law and the domestic laws of most countries. It
the right to be heard within a reasonable time
is considered to be a violation of human rights, and is declared to be unacceptable by Article 5 of the UN Universal
the right to counsel
Declaration of Human Rights. Signatories of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocols I and II of
the right to interpretation[106]
June 8, 1977 officially agree not to torture captured persons in armed conflicts, whether international or internal.
Torture is also prohibited by the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which has been ratified by 157
countries.[90] Freedom of speech
Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship. The term freedom of expression is sometimes
National and international legal prohibitions on torture derive from a consensus that torture and similar ill-treatment
used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the
are immoral, as well as impractical.[91] Despite these international conventions, organisations that monitor abuses of
medium used. In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly
human rights (e.g., Amnesty International, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims) report
subject to limitations, such as on libel, slander, obscenity, incitement to commit a crime, etc. The right to freedom of
widespread use condoned by states in many regions of the world.[92] Amnesty International estimates that at least 81
expression is recognised as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and
world governments currently practise torture, some of them openly.[93]
recognised in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Article 19 of the ICCPR states that "[e]veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference" and
Freedom from slavery

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"everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart The right to keep and bear arms for defence is described in the philosophical and political writings of Aristotle, Cicero,
information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or John Locke, Machiavelli, the English Whigs and others.[113] In countries with an English common law tradition, a
through any other media of his choice". long-standing common law right to keep and bear arms has long been recognised, as pre-existing in common law,
prior even to the existence of national constitutions.[114]

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion


Future generations

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to In 1997, UNESCO adopted the Declaration on the Responsibilities of the Present Generation Towards the Future
change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or Generation. The Declaration opens with the words:
private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Mindful of the will of the peoples, set out solemnly in the Charter of the United Nations, to 'save
— Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights succeeding generations from the scourge of war' and to safeguard the values and principles enshrined in
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and all other relevant instruments of international law.
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion are closely related rights that protect the freedom of an individual or
community, in public or private, to think and freely hold conscientious beliefs and to manifest religion or belief in — Declaration on the Responsibilities of the Present Generation Towards the
teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognised also to include the freedom to change Future Generation
religion or not to follow any religion.[107] The freedom to leave or discontinue membership in a religion or religious
group—in religious terms called "apostasy"—is also a fundamental part of religious freedom, covered by Article 18 of Article 1 of the declaration states "the present generations have the responsibility of ensuring that the needs and
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[108] interests of present and future generations are fully safeguarded". The preamble to the declaration states that "at this
point in history, the very existence of humankind and its environment are threatened" and the declaration covers a
Human rights groups such as Amnesty International organises campaigns to protect those arrested and or
variety of issues including protection of the environment, the human genome, biodiversity, cultural heritage, peace,
incarcerated as a prisoner of conscience because of their conscientious beliefs, particularly concerning intellectual,
development, and education. The preamble recalls that the responsibilities of the present generations towards future
political and artistic freedom of expression and association.[109] In legislation, a conscience clause is a provision in a
generations has been referred to in various international instruments, including the Convention for the Protection of
statute that excuses a health professional from complying with the law (for example legalising surgical or
the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (UNESCO 1972), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
pharmaceutical abortion) if it is incompatible with religious or conscientious beliefs.[110]
Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), the Rio Declaration on Environment and
Development (UN Conference on Environment and Development, 1992), the Vienna Declaration and Programme of
Freedom of movement Action (World Conference on Human Rights, 1993) and a number of UN General Assembly resolutions relating to the
protection of the global climate for present and future generations adopted since 1990.[115]
Freedom of movement asserts that a citizen of a state in which that citizen is present has the liberty to travel, reside in,
and/or work in any part of the state where one pleases within the limits of respect for the liberty and rights of
others,[111] and to leave that state and return at any time. Sexual orientation and gender identity

Sexual orientation and gender identity rights relate to the expression of sexual orientation and gender identity based
on the right to respect for private life and the right not to be discriminated against on the ground of "other status" as
Rights debates
defined in various human rights conventions, such as article 17 and 26 in the United Nations International Covenant
Events and new possibilities can affect existing rights or require new ones. Advances of technology, medicine, and on Civil and Political Rights and article 8 and article 14 in the European Convention on Human Rights.
philosophy constantly challenge the status quo of human rights thinking.
As of 2011, homosexual behaviour is illegal in 76 countries and punishable by execution in seven countries.[117] The
Right to education criminalisation of private, consensual, adult sexual relations, especially in countries where corporal or capital
punishment is involved, is one of the primary concerns of LGBT human rights advocates.[118]
UN agencies, such as UNESCO, promote the right to education as a fundamental right. Education encompasses
several thematic areas, including comprehensive sexuality education, which is also considered to be relevant for Other issues include: government recognition of same-sex relationships, LGBT adoption, sexual orientation and
human rights.[112] military service, immigration equality, anti-discrimination laws, hate crime laws regarding violence against LGBT
people, sodomy laws, anti-lesbianism laws, and equal age of consent for same-sex activity.[119][120][121][122][123][124]
Right to keep and bear arms

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A global charter for sexual orientation and gender identity rights has The most clear definition of the human right to water has been issued by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and
been proposed in the form of the 'Yogyakarta Principles', a set of 29 Cultural Rights. This treaty body interpreting legal obligations of State parties to the International Covenant on
principles whose authors say they apply International Human Rights Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) issued in 2002 a non-binding interpretation affirming that access to
Law statutes and precedent to situations relevant to LGBT people's water was a condition for the enjoyment of the right to an adequate standard of living and inextricably related to the
experience.[125] The principles were presented at a United Nations right to the highest attainable standard of health (see ICESCR Art. 11 & 12) and therefore a human right:
event in New York on November 7, 2007, co-sponsored by Argentina,
Brazil and Uruguay. The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and
affordable water for personal and domestic uses.
The principles have been acknowledged with influencing the French
proposed UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity, — United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
which focuses on ending violence, criminalisation and capital
punishment and does not include dialogue about same-sex marriage or Asia's first Genderqueer Pride Parade On July 28, 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared water and sanitation as human rights. Since then, all
at Madurai with Anjali Gopalan. On 11 States have at least ratified one human rights convention which explicitly or implicitly recognises the right, and they
right to start a family.[126][127] The proposal was supported by 67 of the
December 2013, homosexuality was
then 192 member countries of the United Nations, including all EU all have signed at least one political declaration recognising this right.[135]
criminalised in India by a Supreme
member states and the United States. An alternative statement Court ruling.[116]
opposing the proposal was initiated by Syria and signed by 57 member Sexual and reproductive rights
nations, including all 27 nations of the Arab League as well as Iran and
Human rights include women's rights and sexual and reproductive rights. Sexual and reproductive rights are part of a
North Korea.[128][129]
continuum of human rights, which includes the rights to life, health and education, the rights to equality and non-
discrimination, and the right to decide the timing, number and spacing of one's children.[136][137]
Trade
Reproductive and sexual rights as part of human rights was affirmed internationally at the Programme of Action of
Although both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994.[136] It was the first among
Cultural Rights emphasise the importance of a right to work, neither of these documents explicitly mention free trade
international development frameworks to address issues related to sexuality, sexual and reproductive health, and
as a mechanism for ensuring this fundamental right. And yet trade plays a key role in providing jobs.[130]
reproductive rights.[138]
Some experts argue that trade is inherent to human nature and that when governments inhibit international trade
The ICPD Programme of Action in paragraph 7.2 "defines an individual's sexual and reproductive health as complete
they directly inhibit the right to work and the other indirect benefits, like the right to education, that increased work
well-being related to sexual activity and reproduction. Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) encompass
and investment help accrue.[131] Others have argued that the ability to trade does not affect everyone equally—often
both entitlements and freedoms. This includes the definition of reproductive rights in paragraph 7.3 of the ICPD PoA,
groups like the rural poor, indigenous groups and women are less likely to access the benefits of increased trade.[132]
which clarifies that these are not a new set of rights but human rights in existing human rights instruments related to
On the other hand, others think that it is no longer primarily individuals but companies that trade, and therefore it sexual and reproductive autonomy and the attainment of sexual and reproductive health.[139] Additionally, the 1995
cannot be guaranteed as a human right. Additionally, trying to fit too many concepts under the umbrella of what Beijing Platform for Action (PfA) expands this definition to cover both sexuality and reproduction by affirming in
qualifies as a human right has the potential to dilute their importance. Finally, it is difficult to define a right to trade as paragraph 96 the right to exercise control over and make decisions about one’s sexuality, including sexual and
either "fair"[133] or "just" in that the current trade regime produces winners and losers but its reform is likely to reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence."[138]
produce (different) winners and losers.[134]

World Health Organisation


Water and sanitation Reproductive rights were first established as a subset of human rights at the United Nations 1968 International
The right to water has been recognised in a wide range of international documents, including treaties, declarations Conference on Human Rights.[140] The sixteenth article of the resulting Proclamation of Teheran states, "Parents have
and other standards. For instance, the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and the spacing of their children."[140][141]
Women (CEDAW) requires State parties to ensure to women the right to "enjoy adequate living conditions,
Reproductive rights may include some or all of the following rights: the right to legal or safe abortion, the right to
particularly in relation to … water supply". The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) requires States
control one's reproductive functions, the right to quality reproductive healthcare, and the right to education and
parties to combat disease and malnutrition "through the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-
access in order to make reproductive choices free from coercion, discrimination, and violence.[142]
water".

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Reproductive rights may also be understood to include education about contraception and sexually transmitted The onset of various environmental issues, especially climate change, has created potential conflicts between different
infections, and freedom from coerced sterilisation and contraception, protection from gender-based practices such as human rights. Human rights ultimately require a working ecosystem and healthy environment, but the granting of
female genital cutting (FGC) and male genital mutilation (MGM).[137][140][142][143] certain rights to individuals may damage these. Such as the conflict between right to decide number of offspring and
the common need for a healthy environment, as noted in the tragedy of the commons.[153] In the area of
environmental rights, the responsibilities of multinational corporations, so far relatively unaddressed by human rights
Information and communication technologies
legislation, is of paramount consideration.
In October 2009, Finland's Ministry of Transport and Communications announced that every person in Finland
would have the legal right to Internet access.[144] Since July 2010, the government has legally obligated Environmental rights revolve largely around the idea of a right to a livable environment both for the present and the
telecommunications companies to offer broadband Internet access to every permanent residence and office. The future generations.
connection must be "reasonably priced" and have a downstream rate of at least 1 Mbit/s.[145]

In March 2010, the BBC, having commissioned an opinion poll, reported that "almost four in five people around the National security
world believe that access to the internet is a fundamental right".[146] The poll, conducted by the polling company With the exception of non-derogable human rights (international conventions class the right to life, the right to be free
GlobeScan for the BBC World Service, collated the answers of 27,973 adult citizens across 26 countries to find that from slavery, the right to be free from torture and the right to be free from retroactive application of penal laws as
79% of adults either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with the statement: "access to the internet should be a non-derogable),[154] the UN recognises that human rights can be limited or even pushed aside during times of
fundamental right of all people".[147] national emergency – although

Right to non-refoulement vs. right to asylum the emergency must be actual, affect the whole population and the threat must be to the very existence
of the nation. The declaration of emergency must also be a last resort and a temporary measure.
Non-refoulement is the right not to be returned to a place of persecution and is the foundation for international
refugee law, as outlined in the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.[148] Both the right to non-
— United Nations. The Resource[154]
refoulement and the right to asylum have taken centre stage in recent debates over the treatment of refugees. A
central worry about the right to asylum is that it can limit a state's power to handle a mass influx of refugees.[149]
Rights that cannot be derogated for reasons of national security in any circumstances are known as peremptory norms
Processing asylum applications can take a considerable amount of time, and this amount rises with the number of
or jus cogens. Such United Nations Charter obligations are binding on all states and cannot be modified by treaty.
refugees applying. This creates an incentive for more refugees to apply, since they are allowed to stay in the country
during the application process. One potential solution to the problem of mass influx is proposed by U.S.-based Examples of national security being used to justify human rights violations include the Japanese American internment
political philosopher Andy Lamey. Lamey proposes a portable procedural model that focuses on the right to non- during World War II,[155] Stalin's Great Purge,[156] and the modern-day abuses of terror suspects rights by some
refoulement.[150] Crucially, the procedural rights defended by this model can be applied outside national borders, countries, often in the name of the War on Terror.[157][158]
within any rights respecting country; this allows the burden of mass influx to be shared by a plurality of countries
without violating the procedural rights of the refugee.
Relativism and universalism
The UDHR enshrines universal rights that apply to all humans equally, whichever geographical location, state, race or
Relationship with other topics culture they belong to. However, in academia there is a dispute between scholars that advocate moral relativism and
scholars that advocate moral universalism. Relativists do not argue against human rights, but concede that human
rights are socially constructed and are shaped by cultural and environmental contexts. Universalists argue that human
The environment
rights have always existed, and apply to all people regardless of culture, race, sex, or religion.
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 right (as seen in both Article 24 of the African Charter More specifically, proponents of cultural relativism argue for acceptance of different cultures, which may have
on Human and Peoples' Rights, and Article 11 of the San Salvador Protocol to the American Convention on Human practices conflicting with human rights. Relativists caution that universalism could be used as a form of cultural,
Rights).[151][152] The second conception is the idea that environmental human rights can be derived from other economic or political imperialism. The White Man's Burden is used as an example of imperialism and the destruction
human rights, usually – the right to life, the right to health, the right to private family life and the right to property of local cultures justified by the desire to spread Eurocentric values.[159] In particular, the concept of human rights is
(among many others). This second theory enjoys much more widespread use in human rights courts around the often claimed to be fundamentally rooted in a politically liberal outlook which, although generally accepted in Europe,
world, as those rights are contained in many human rights documents. Japan or North America, is not necessarily taken as standard elsewhere.

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Opponents of relativism argue that some practices exist that violate the Defenders of moral universalism argue that relativistic arguments neglect the fact that modern human rights are new
norms of all human cultures. A common example is female genital to all cultures, dating back no further than the UDHR in 1948. They argue that the UDHR was drafted by people from
mutilation, which occurs in different cultures in Africa, Asia and South many different cultures and traditions, including a US Roman Catholic, a Chinese Confucian philosopher, a French
America. It is not mandated by any religion, but has become a tradition in zionist and a representative from the Arab League, amongst others, and drew upon advice from thinkers such as
many cultures. It is considered a violation of women's and girl's rights by Mahatma Gandhi.[52] Michael Ignatieff has argued that cultural relativism is almost exclusively an argument used by
much of the international community, and is outlawed in some countries. those who wield power in cultures which commit human rights abuses, and that those whose human rights are
compromised are the powerless.[163] This reflects the fact that the difficulty in judging universalism versus relativism
The former Prime Ministers of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, and of Malaysia, Relativists argue that human lies in who is claiming to represent a particular culture.
Mahathir bin Mohamad both claimed in the 1990s that Asian values were rights must avoid pushing the
significantly different from Western values and included a sense of loyalty values of a single culture at the Although the argument between universalism and relativism is far from complete, it is an academic discussion in that
and foregoing personal freedoms for the sake of social stability and expense of others. "The White all international human rights instruments adhere to the principle that human rights are universally applicable. The
prosperity, and therefore authoritarian government is more appropriate in Man's Burden" is seen as an 2005 World Summit reaffirmed the international community's adherence to this principle:
example of the West using the
Asia than democracy. Lee Kuan Yew argued that:
spread of Western culture as a
justification for colonisation. The universal nature of human rights and freedoms is beyond question.
What Asians value may not necessarily be what Americans or
Europeans value. Westerners value the freedoms and liberties — 2005 World Summit, paragraph 121
of the individual. As an Asian of Chinese cultural background,
my values are for a government which is honest, effective, and See also
efficient.
Children's rights
— Lee Kuan Yew, Democracy, Human Rights Fundamental rights

and the Realities, Tokyo, Nov 10, 1992[160] Human rights in cyberspace
Human rights group
Human rights in the United States
In response, critics have pointed out that cultural relativism could be used as
Human rights literature
a justification for authoritarianism. An example is in 1981, when the Iranian
Human Rights Watch
representative to the United Nations, Said Rajaie-Khorassani, articulated the
Universalists argue that some International human rights law
position of his country regarding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights International human rights instruments
practices violate the norms of all
by saying that the UDHR was "a secular understanding of the Judeo- human cultures. They point out Intersex human rights
Christian tradition", which could not be implemented by Muslims without that although Female genital List of human rights organisations
trespassing the Islamic law.[161] The Asian Values argument was criticised by mutilation is prevalent in Africa, LGBT rights
Mahathir's former deputy: no religion supports the practice, Minority rights
and the tradition is in violation of Public international law
women's rights. International Year of Human Rights
To say that freedom is Western or unAsian is to offend our
European Court of Human Rights
traditions as well as our forefathers, who gave their lives in the
struggle against tyranny and injustices.
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Miscellaneous
Books
Roosevelt, Eleanor (December 9, 1948). On the Adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (http://w
Beitz, Charles R. (2009). The idea of human rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-957245-8. ww.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/eleanorrooseveltdeclarationhumanrights.htm) (Speech). Third regular
Moyn, Samuel (2010). The last utopia: human rights in history (http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=978 session of the United Nations General Assembly. Paris, France.
0674064348). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-06434-8. "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3ae6b3712c.html). UN General
Donnelly, Jack (2003). Universal human rights in theory and practice (2nd ed.). Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Assembly. December 10, 1948. 217 A (III)
ISBN 978-0-8014-8776-7.
Ball, Olivia; Gready, Paul (2006). The no-nonsense guide to human rights. New Internationalist. Oxford.
ISBN 978-1-904456-45-2. Further reading
Freeman, Michael (2002). Human rights : an interdisciplinary approach. Cambridge: Polity Press. ISBN 978-0-
7456-2355-9. Abouharb, R. and D. Cingranelli (2007). "Human Rights and Structural Adjustment". New York: Cambridge
Doebbler, Curtis F. J (2006). Introduction to international human rights law. Cd Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9743570- University Press.
2-7. Barzilai, G (2003), Communities and Law: Politics and Cultures of Legal Identities. The University of Michigan
Keys, Barbara J. (2014). Reclaiming American Virtue: The Human Rights Revolution of the 1970s. Cambridge, Press, 2003. ISBN 0-47211315-1
Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. Barsh, R. (1993). “Measuring Human Rights: Problems of Methodology and Purpose.” Human Rights Quarterly
Shaw, Malcolm (2008). International Law (6th ed.). Leiden: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-511-45559- 15: 87-121.
9. Chauhan, O.P. (2004). Human Rights: Promotion and Protection. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD. ISBN 81-261-
Ishay, Micheline R. (2008). The history of human rights : from ancient times to the globalization era. Berkeley, 2119-X
Calif.: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-25641-5. Forsythe, David P. (2000). Human Rights in International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brownlie, Ian (2003). Principles of Public International Law (6th ed.). OUP. ISBN 978-0-19-955683-0. International Progress Organization. ISBN 3-900704-08-2
Glendon, Mary Ann (2001). A world made new : Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Forsythe, Frederick P. (2009). Encyclopedia of Human Rights (New York: Oxford University Press)
Rights. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-46310-8. Ishay, M. (2004). The history of human rights: From ancient times to the globalization era. Los Angeles,
Sepúlveda, Magdalena; van Banning, Theo; Gudmundsdóttir, Gudrún; Chamoun, Christine; van Genugten, California: University California Press.
Willem J.M. (2004). Human rights reference handbook (3rd ed. rev. ed.). Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica: University of Joseph, Peter (2017). The New Human Rights Movement: Reinventing the Economy to End Oppression.
Peace. ISBN 978-9977-925-18-9.[4] (https://web.archive.org/web/20120328001040/http://www.hrea.org/erc/Libra BenBella Books. ISBN 1942952651
ry/display_doc.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hrc.upeace.org%2Ffiles%2Fhuman%2520rights%2520reference Landman, Todd (2006). Studying Human Rights. Oxford and London: Routledge ISBN 0-415-32605-2
%2520handbook.pdf&external=N)
Renouard, Joe. Human Rights in American Foreign Policy: From the 1960s to the Soviet Collapse (U of
Ignatieff, Michael (2001). Human rights as politics and idolatry (3. print. ed.). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Pennsylvania Press, 2016). 324 pp.
Press. ISBN 978-0-691-08893-8.
Robertson, Arthur Henry; Merrills, John Graham (1996). Human Rights in the World: An Introduction to the Study
of the International Protection of Human Rights. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-4923-7.

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Steinberg, Gerald M., Anne Herzberg and Jordan Berman (2012). Best Practices for Human Rights and
Humanitarian NGO Fact-Finding. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers / Brill ISBN 9789004218116
Steiner, J. & Alston, Philip. (1996). International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics, Morals. Oxford:
Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-825427-X
Shute, Stephen & Hurley, Susan (eds.). (1993). On Human Rights: The Oxford Amnesty Lectures. New York:
BasicBooks. ISBN 0-465-05224-X

External links
"Human rights" (http://www.iep.utm.edu/hum-rts/). Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
United Nations: Human Rights (https://www.un.org/en/sections/priorities/human-rights/index.html)
UN Practitioner's Portal on HRBA Programming (http://www.hrbaportal.org) UN centralised webportal on the
Human Rights-Based Approach to Development Programming
Simple Guide to the UN Treaty Bodies (http://www.ishr.ch/guides-to-the-un-system/simple-guide-to-treaty-bodies)
(International Service for Human Rights)
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/) U.S. Department of State.
International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) (http://ictj.org/)
The International Institute of Human Rights (http://www.iidh.org)
IHRLaw.org (http://www.ihrlaw.org) International Human Rights Law – comprehensive online resources and news
Human rights (https://curlie.org/Society/Issues/Human_Rights_and_Liberties) at Curlie (based on DMOZ)

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