“Fundamental human rights and freedoms are inalienable and shall be enjoyed by everyone since the day of birth.
Human rights and freedom are “rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled”. Proponents of the notion usually declare that everyone is gifted with certain entitlements simply by reason of being human. Human rights are thus conceived in a universalist and democratic fashion. Such entitlements can be present as shared norms of authentic human moralities, as reasonable moral norms or expected rights supported by strong reasons, or as legal rights either at a national level or within international law. However, there is no agreement as to the clear-cut nature of what in particular should or should not be regarded as a human right in any of the foregoing senses, and the theoretical concept of human rights has been a subject of intense philosophical argument and analysis.
The modern conception of human rights developed in the outcome of the Second World War, in part as a response to the Holocaust, culminating in its implementation by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. However, while the phrase “human rights and freedom” is relatively contemporary the academic basics of the modern concept can be traced through the history of philosophy and the concepts of natural law rights and liberties as far back as the city states of Classical Greece and the expansion of Roman Law. The true forerunner of human rights discourse was the clarified concept of natural rights established by figures such as John Locke and Immanuel Kant and through the political empire in the United States Bill of Rights and the announcement of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
—Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
History of human rights and freedom
Although ideas of human rights and liberty have existed for much of human history, it is blurred to what degree such concepts can be explained as “human rights and freedom” in the modern sense. The concept of human rights definitely existed in pre-modern cultures; ancient philosophers such as Aristotle wrote widely on the rights (to dikaion in ancient Greek, roughly a ‘just claim’) of citizens to property and input in public interaction. However, neither the Greeks nor the Romans had any notion of universal human rights; slavery, for example, was justified both in ancient and modern times as a natural circumstance. Medieval charters of liberty such as the English Magna Carta were not charters of human rights, let alone broad charters of rights: they instead constituted a form of partial political and legal contract to address specific political situsationss, in the case of Magna Carta later being mythologised in the course of early modern debates about rights.
The basis of most modern legal explanations of human rights can be traced back to modern European history. The Twelve Articles (1525) are considered to be the initial record of human rights in Europe. They were part of the peasants’ burden elevated on the way to the Swabian League in the German Peasants’ War in Germany. In Britain in 1683, the English Bill of Rights (or “An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown”) and the Scottish Claim of Right each made illegitimate a range of harsh governmental manners. Two major revolutions took place during the 18th century, in the United States (1776) and in France (1789), leading to the approval of the United States Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen correspondingly, both of which recognized certain legal rights. Furthermore, the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776 encoded into law a number of fundamental civil rights and civil freedoms.
The devolopment of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the 1864 Lieber Code and the first of the Geneva Conventions in 1864 established the foundations of International humanitarian law, to be further developed following the World Wars.
The World Wars and the enormous losses of life and disgusting abuses of human rights that took place during them were a motivating force behind the improvement of modern human rights instruments. The League of Nations was established in 1919 at the consultation over the Treaty of Versailles following the end of World War I. The League’s goals was integrated disarmament, preventing war through collective security, settling disputes among countries through conciliation, diplomacy and improving global wellbeing. Enshrined in its agreement was a mandate to endorse many of the rights that were later included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Underlying Philosophy of human rights and freedom
The philosophy of human rights challenges to observe the underlying basis of the concept of human rights and critically looks at its content and justification.
One of the oldest Western philosophies on human rights is that they are from natural law from various philosophical or religious foundations. Other presumptions hold that human rights codify moral conduct which is a human social creation developed by a process of biological and social evolution. Human rights are also stated as a sociological model of rule setting. These theories include the belief that individuals in a society understand rules from legitimate power in exchange for security and economic benefit (as in Rawls) – a social contract. The two theories that best explains modern human rights debate are the interest theory and the will theory. Interest theory argues that the that the major function of human rights is to defend and endorse certain vital human interests, while will theory tries to institute the validity of human rights based on the unique human capacity for freedom.
Concepts in human rights and freedom
Indivisibility and categorization
The most familiar categorization of human rights is to divide them into civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights.
The UDHR included both economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights since it was based on the standard that the different rights could only effectively exist in combination:
“The ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his social, economic and cultural rights”
—International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, 1966
This is held to be proper since without civil and political rights the community cannot emphasize on their economic, social and cultural rights. likewise, without livelihoods and a working society, the public cannot assert or make use of civil or political rights.
“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”
—Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, World Conference on Human Rights, 1993
Although established by the signatories to the UDHR, most do not in practice give the same weight to the different types of rights. Some Western cultures have often given priority to civil and political rights, sometimes at the expense of economic and social rights such as the right to work, to education, health and housing. For example, in the United States there is no universal access to healthcare free at the point of use.
Challengers of the indivisibility of human rights argue that economic, social and cultural rights are primarily diverse from civil and political rights and need completely different approaches.
In The No-Nonsense Guide to Human Rights Olivia Ball and Paul Gready argue that for mutually civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights it is simple to find examples which do not fit into the standard categorisation of the theory. Amongst some others, they emphasize the fact that maintaining a judicial system, a fundamental requirement of the civil right to due procedure before the law and other rights relating to judicial procedure, is optimistic, resource-intensive, progressive and vague, while the social right to housing is precise, justiciable and can be a genuine ‘legal’ right.
Another classification, presented by Karel Vasak, is that there are three generations of human rights:
First-generation civil and political rights (right to life and political participation).
Second-generation economic, social and cultural rights (right to subsistence).
Third-generation solidarity rights (right to peace, right to clean environment).
From generations, the third generation is the most argued and requires both legal and political acknowledgment. This classification is at odds with the indivisibility of rights, as it absolutely states that some rights can exist without others. Prioritisation of rights for practical reasons is however a widely accepted obligation. Human rights expert Philip Alston says:
“If every possible human rights element is deemed to be essential or necessary, then nothing will be treated as though it is truly important.”
Universalism vs. cultural relativism
The UDHR protects universal rights that apply to all humans evenly, whichever geographical location, state, race or culture they belong to. Proponents of cultural relativism debate for the approval of diverse cultures, which may have exercises conflicting with human rights.
For instance female genital mutilation takes place in different societies in Africa, Asia and South America. It is not ordered by any religion, but has turn into a habit in many cultures. It is considered a abuse of women’s and girl’s rights by much of the international community, and is forbidden in some countries.
Universalism has been explained by some as cultural, economic or political imperialism. In particular, the notion of human rights is often claimed to be primarily rooted in a politically moderate outlook which, although normally accepted in Europe, Japan or North America, is not necessarily taken as standard elsewhere.
Cultural relativism is a self-detonating point; if cultural relativism is factual, then universalism must also be accurate. Relativistic opinions tend to abandon the fact that contemporary human rights are new to all cultures. They consider the fact that the UDHR was drafted by people from many diverse cultures and traditions, including a US Roman Catholic, a Chinese Confucian philosopher, a French zionist and a agents from the Arab League, amongst others, and drew upon advice from thinkers such as Mahatma Gandhi.
Michael Ignatieff has argued that cultural relativism is almost completely an argument used by those who exercise authority in cultures which execute human rights abuses, and that those whose human rights are cooperated are the weak. This mirrors the fact that the complexity in judging universalism versus relativism lies in who is claiming to stand for a particular culture.
Human rights vs. national security
With the exception of non-derogable human rights the UN distinguishs that human rights can be narrowed down or even pushed away during times of national emergency – although
“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”
—United Nations. The Resource
Rights that cannot be derogated for reasons of national security in any circumstances are known as peremptory norms or jus cogens. Examples of national security being used to justify human rights violations include the Japanese American internment during World War II, Stalin’s Great Purge, and the actual and alleged modern-day abuses of terror suspects rights by some western countries, often in the name of the War on Terror.
Human rights violations
Human rights violations take place when any state or non-state actor breaks any part of the UDHR treaty or other international human rights or humanitarian law. Human rights mistreatment are monitored by United Nations committees, national institutions and governments and by many independent non-governmental organizations, for example Amnesty International, International Federation of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, World Organisation Against Torture, Freedom House, International Freedom of Expression Exchange and Anti-Slavery International. These organisations gather proof and documents of alleged human rights abuses and apply force to enforce human rights laws.
There are a ample variety of databases accessible which attempt to compute, in a precise fashion, precisely what violations governments execute against those within their territorial jurisdiction. When a government restricts a geographical region to journalists, it raises doubts of human rights violations. Seven regions are at present closed to foreign journalists:
1. Chechnya, Russia
2. Myanmar (Burma)
3. North Korea
4. Papua, Indonesia
5. Peshawar, Pakistan
6. Jaffna Peninsula, Srilanka
Currently debated rights and freedom
Events and new possibilities can affect existing rights or require new ones. Advances of technology, medicine, and philosophy constantly challenge the status quo of human rights thinking.
There are two basic starts of environmental human rights in the present human rights system. The primary is that the right to a healthy or ample environment is itself a human right. The second origin is the idea that environmental human rights can be imitative from other human rights, frequently – the right to life, the right to health, the right to personal family life and the right to property (among many others). This second theory enjoys much more extensive use in human rights courts around the world, as those rights are restricted in many human rights documents.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) rights
LGBT rights are rights that speak about sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
In 77 countries, homosexuality is treated as a criminal offense, punishable in seven countries.The decriminalization of private, consensual, adult sexual relations, particularly in countries where corporal or capital punishment is exercised, remains one of the most important concerns of LGBT human rights advocates. Other concerns include but are not restricted to: government recognition of same-sex relationships, LGBT embracing, sexual orientation and military service, immigration equality, anti-discrimination laws, hate crime laws regarding aggression against LGBT people, sodomy laws, anti-lesbianism laws, and equal age of consent for same-sex activity.
Although mutually the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights emphasize the significance of a right to work, neither of these documents openly mention trade as a means for ensuring this fundamental right. And yet trade plays a key position in providing jobs.
Some experts argue that trade is intrinsic to human nature and that when governments hold back international trade they directly inhibit the right to work and the other oblique benefits, like the right to education, that amplified work and investment help ensue. Others have argued that the capability to trade does not affect everyone evenly—often groups similar to the rural poor, indigenous groups and women are less likely to access the profit of increased trade.
There is no existing universal human right to water, obligatory or not, preserved by the United Nations or any other multilateral body. In November 2002, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights declared a non-binding statement affirming that access to water was a human right:
“the human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights.”
—United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Crime and Punishment
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declared that everyone has the “right to life”.According to many Human Rights leaders, the death penalty abuses these rights. The United Nations has called on retentions states to establish a suspension on capital punishment with a view to its ending. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights prohibits torment and other brutal, inhuman, and degrading punishment. Countries have argued that “enhanced interrogation methods”, which amount to torture, are needed for national security. Human rights activists have also disapproved of some methods used to punish criminal offenders.
Fetal rights are the legal or moral rights of human fetuses. The term is used most often in the context of the abortion debate, as the basis for an argument in support of the pro-life stance.
Reproductive rights are rights related to reproduction and reproductive health. The precise meaning of the expression “reproductive rights” is the subject of heated debate. Reproductive rights may as well be understood to include schooling about contraception and STD, liberty from coerced sterilization and contraception, defence from gender-based practices such as female genital cutting (FGC) and male genital mutilation (MGM).
Human rights and freedom have a long historical heritage. The main philosophical base of human rights is a belief in the subsistence of a form of justice valid for all peoples, everywhere from the moment of birth. In this form, the modern doctrine of human rights has come to occupy centre stage in geo-political affairs. The tone of human rights is understood and utilized by many peoples in very different circumstances. Human rights are best reflection of as prospective moral guarantees for each human being to lead a simple good life. The degree to which this objective has not been realized represents a unpleasant failure by the modern world to institute a morally compelling order based upon human rights. Arguably, the most convincing motivation for the existence of human may rest upon the exercise of imagination where every childs right will be reserved.
1) Houghton Mifflin Company (2006)
2) Nickel, James (2009). “Human Rights”. In Zalta, Edward N.. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
3) Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of December 10, 1948.
4) Freeman, Michael (2002). Human rights: an interdisciplinary approach. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 15–17. ISBN 9780745623559.
5) Freeman, The Magna Carta was very important in the late middle ages. pp. 18–19
6) Fagan, Andrew. “Human Rights”. Internet Encylopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
7) Light (2002)
8) Ball, Gready (2007) p.37
9) Alston (2005)
10) Ball, Gready (2007) p.34
11) Ignatief, M. (2001) p.68
12) The Resource Part II: Human Rights in Times of Emergencies. United Nations. Retrieved 2007-12-31.
13) Children of the Camps | Internment Timeline. Pbs.org. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
14) The Great Purge. Cusd.chico.k12.ca.us. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
15) Fox News Report. Fox News. 2007-12-10.
16) “UK Law Lords Rule Indefinite Detention Breaches Human Rights”. Human Rights Watch
17) “Do journalists have the right to work in Chechnya without accreditation?”. Medialaw.ru. 2000-01-20. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
18) “Indonesia: Police Abuse Endemic in Closed Area of Papua | Human Rights Watch”. Hrw.org. 2007-07-05. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
19) “Radical Islamists no longer welcome in Pakistani tribal areas | McClatchy”. Mcclatchydc.com. 2008-03-20. Retrieved 2010-08-29
20) Fagan, Andrew. “Human Rights”. Internet
21) “World Day against Death Penalty”. ILGA. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
22) http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/partners/22.html”security and privacy by criminalizing harmless private relations between consenting adults”
23) “John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner v. State of Texax”. Retrieved 2008-10-12.
24) “Should trade be considered a human right?”. COPLA. December 9, 2008.
25) Fernandez, Soraya (December 9, 2008). “Protecting access to markets”. COPLA.
26) Jones, Nicola and Hayley Baker (March 2008). “Untangling links between trade, poverty and gender”. Overseas Development Institute.
27) Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Article 5
28) “Amnesty International”. Amnesty.org. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
29) Cook, Rebecca J.; Mahmoud F. Fathalla (September 1996). “Advancing Reproductive Rights Beyond Cairo and Beijing”. International Family Planning Perspectives (Guttmacher Institute) 22 (3): 115–121. doi:10.2307/2950752. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
30) Freedman, Lynn P.; Stephen L. Isaacs (Jan. – Feb. 1993). “Human Rights and Reproductive Choice”. Studies in Family Planning (Population Council) 24 (1): 18–30. doi:10.2307/2939211. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
31) “National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers”. Nocirc.org. 1993-12-10. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
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 Houghton Mifflin Company (2006)
 Nickel, James (2009). “Human Rights”. In Zalta, Edward N.. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
 Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of December 10, 1948.
 Freeman, Michael (2002). Human rights: an interdisciplinary approach. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 15–17. ISBN 9780745623559.
 Freeman, The Magna Carta was very important in the late middle ages. pp. 18–19
 Fagan, Andrew. “Human Rights”. Internet Encylopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
 Light (2002)
 Ball, Gready (2007) p.37
 Alston (2005)
 Ball, Gready (2007) p.34
 Ignatief, M. (2001) p.68
 The Resource Part II: Human Rights in Times of Emergencies. United Nations. Retrieved 2007-12-31.
 Children of the Camps | Internment Timeline. Pbs.org. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
 The Great Purge. Cusd.chico.k12.ca.us. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
Fox News Report. Fox News. 2007-12-10.
 “UK Law Lords Rule Indefinite Detention Breaches Human Rights”. Human Rights Watch.
 “Do journalists have the right to work in Chechnya without accreditation?”. Medialaw.ru. 2000-01-20. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
 “Indonesia: Police Abuse Endemic in Closed Area of Papua | Human Rights Watch”. Hrw.org. 2007-07-05. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
 “Radical Islamists no longer welcome in Pakistani tribal areas | McClatchy”. Mcclatchydc.com. 2008-03-20. Retrieved 2010-08-29
 Fagan, Andrew. “Human Rights”. Internet
 “World Day against Death Penalty”. ILGA. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
 http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/partners/22.html”security and privacy by criminalizing harmless private relations between consenting adults”
 “John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner v. State of Texax”. Retrieved 2008-10-12.
 “Should trade be considered a human right?”. COPLA. December 9, 2008.
 Fernandez, Soraya (December 9, 2008). “Protecting access to markets”. COPLA.
 Jones, Nicola and Hayley Baker (March 2008). “Untangling links between trade, poverty and gender”. Overseas Development Institute.
 Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Article 5
 “Amnesty International”. Amnesty.org. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
 Cook, Rebecca J.; Mahmoud F. Fathalla (September 1996). “Advancing Reproductive Rights Beyond Cairo and Beijing”. International Family Planning Perspectives (Guttmacher Institute) 22 (3): 115–121. doi:10.2307/2950752. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
 Freedman, Lynn P.; Stephen L. Isaacs (Jan. – Feb. 1993). “Human Rights and Reproductive Choice”. Studies in Family Planning (Population Council) 24 (1): 18–30. doi:10.2307/2939211. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
 “National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers”. Nocirc.org. 1993-12-10. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
 Cook, Rebecca J.; Mahmoud F. Fathalla (September 1996). “Advancing Reproductive Rights Beyond Cairo and Beijing”. International Family Planning Perspectives (Guttmacher Institute) 22 (3): 115–121. doi:10.2307/2950752. Retrieved 2007-12-08.