Discuss the relevance of Social Contract theories in the making of ideas of Human Rights

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Discuss the relevance of Social Contract theories in the making of ideas of Human Rights

INTRODUCTION ( What is Human Right)

Human rights are the most fundamental of all rights for a person which is deemed to that person on the basis that the underlying person is a human. These rights are granted by all the state and countries regardless of who the person is or where the person came from. The last big known meeting for the decision of human rights was on 10th December 1948 at the UN General Assembly where the majority agreed upon international human rights or ways in which to keep one’s human rights at best.

Social Contract Theory

In simple terms, it is the morality consisting in the set of rules governing behavior, that rational people would accept, on the condition that others accept them as well. It is the unspoken contract that we all as citizens get into with the government based on the belief that the government in turn would work for the best interest of the people. There have been a few social contract theories, most notably of which is the theory of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. His famous saying “man was born free, but he is everywhere in chains” is a brilliant way of showing that we as individuals are always born with certain rights that allow us to be free. It is only when we forego some of those rights in order to become a member of a group of people called society, do we let go of all those individual rights for better collective rights as humans and citizens. For example, when a person becomes a citizen of Bangladesh and enjoys all the citizens rights, that person is also foregoing their chance of ever going to Israel. Such utilitarian view is now the main focus of social contract theories rather than Thomas Hobbe’s political and John Locke’s moral view of the social contract.


There are a total of 30 human right articles that was finally decided by the UN General Assembly on 10th December 1948:-

(a) 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.

Social contract theory suggests the foregoing of certain individual rights for collective individualistic benefits. This article pertains to the social contract in the sense that they give away their freedom to do whatever they want to social contract in order to achieve a better security among the world.

(b) Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion national or social origin, property, birth or other status

Everyone human has some common basic rights regardless of which economic class they belong to. When they have entered into a social contract as such, they are entitled to those rights regardless of the mentioned above distinctions.

(c) Everyone has the right, liberty and security of a person

Social Contract theory talks about better group security than individual security by shedding off some personal human rights and allowing your governance by another party.

(d) No one shall be held in slavery of servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms

(e) No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

Social contract’s membership allows you not to face such cruel fate anywhere ever.

(f) Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law

Members of social contract are all equal in front of the law under which they have submitted themselves while going in this contract

(g) All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.

Members of social contract are all equal in front of the law under which they have submitted themselves while going in this contract

(h) Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Members of social contract are all equal in front of the law under which they have submitted themselves while going in this contract

(i) No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile

The terms of social contract allows a person to face such consequences in times of need

(j) Everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Social Contract’s idea of handing over rights to gain new rights is applicable is this human right.

(k) 1.Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense

2. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Members of social contract are all equal in front of the law under which they have submitted themselves while going in this contract (l) No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks

(m) 1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

2.Everyone has the right to leave any country, including is own and to return to his country.

(n) 1.Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

2. The right may not be invoked on the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts of contrary to the purposes and principles of the UN.

(o) 1. Everyone has the right to a nationality

2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

(p) 1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and found a family. They are entitled to equal right as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.

(q) 1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

(r) Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

(s) Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

(t) 1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

2. No one may be compelled to belong to an association

(u) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

(v) Everyone as a member of society has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international cooperation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each state of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

(w) Everyone has the right to work to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

(x) Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay

(y) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing,, housing and medical care and necessary social services and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

(z) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

(A) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

(B) Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

(C) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible

(D) Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any state group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

The theories of social contract of Jean-Jacques Rousseau,John Locke and Thomas Hobbes are some of the underlying ideas in the makings of human rights. John Locke’s moral view that has helped make the law of moral issues of such as rights to education for all in human rights, with Thomas Hobbes political social contract views making the human rights of taking part in the government and also freedom of opinion. Along with Jean- Jacques Rousseau’s utilitarian view of social contract that is relevant to the entire ideas of human rights as the core reason for all these rights is to help individuals and groups get more by sacrificing less of their rights.


The most fundamental of all rights, human rights are innate rights we have from birth. Social contract theories that discuss how humans interact with each other by giving away innate rights to a group in exchange of protection and identity are highly relevant with the ideas of human rights that aims to remove any sort of disparity from a person and treat that being as a human being first.





K.B.Uddin, Fifty Years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I.R. Micheline The History of Human Rights