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“What do you understand by Human Rights? Discuss the relevance of Social Contract theories in the making of ideas of Human Rights.”
This essay is focusing on the Human rights, or natural rights, are the flip side of the natural duties of the social contract. This essay is clearly explains human rights that belong to an individual or group of individuals as a consequence of being human. Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. Again this essay says that social contract; the voluntary agreement among individuals by which, according to any of various theories, as of Hobbes, Locke, or Rousseau, organized society is brought into being and invested with the right to secure mutual protection and welfare or to regulate the relations among its members. This essay also says about the history of how this human rights and social contract.
Human rights, or natural rights, are the flip side of the natural duties of the social contract. They are the quid pro quo of the social contract. Human rights are the benefits negotiated by our theoretical reasonable persons and received by each of them as a result of their agreement to accept the natural duties imposed by the social contract. Human rights are the consideration for the obligations assumed under that fundamental agreement.
As the definition of Human rights, rights that belong to an individual or group of individuals as a consequence of being human. They refer to a wide continuum of values or capabilities thought to enhance human agency and declared to be universal in character, in some sense equally claimed for all human beings. Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law, general principles and other sources of international law.
As the definition of social contract, the voluntary agreement among individuals by which, according to any of various theories, as of Hobbes, Locke, or Rousseau, organized society is brought into being and invested with the right to secure mutual protection and welfare or to regulate the relations among its members. An agreement for mutual benefit between an individual or group and the government or community as a whole.<href=”#_ftn1″ name=”_ftnref1″ title=””>
The nature of human rights: Commonly accepted postulates
Despite this lack of consensus, a number of widely accepted (and interrelated) postulates can assist in the task of defining human rights. Five in particular stand out, though not even these are without controversy. Regardless of their ultimate origin or justification, human rights are understood to represent both individual and group demands for political power, wealth, enlightenment, and other cherished values or capabilities, the most fundamental of which is respect and its constituent elements of reciprocal tolerance and mutual forbearance in the pursuit of all other such values or capabilities.”<href=”#_ftn2″ name=”_ftnref2″ title=””>A human right is a relationship arising from our nature as human beings that entitles an individual to certain conduct from all others. It is a contractual right flowing from the social contract that imposes upon all others the necessary and universal duty to act or refrain from acting in a certain way. A human right, however, should not be confused with a possession, like an apple or a house. Nor should it be equated with a human power, like the power to think or see or live. Rather, a human right is a relationship between an individual and all others that entitles a person to certain conduct from every other person and from society.
For the first 20 years of its existence (1947–66), the UN Commission on Human Rights concentrated its efforts on setting human rights standards, believing itself unauthorized to deal with human rights complaints. Together with other UN bodies such as the ILO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, it drafted standards and prepared a number of international human rights instruments. Among the most important of these were the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights together with its Optional Protocols (1966; 1989).
The relevance of social contract for creating human rights
Human rights are universal since the reciprocal basic natural duties established by the social contract are general in their application to all people and at all times. However, the manifestation of these rights and duties will vary from civilization to civilization. It is equally true that where human rights are abridged or the benefits of social cooperation are denied, the willingness to observe the basic duties of the society is diminished. In fact; the denial or abridgement of human rights constitutes a breach of the social contract. It is no accident that those in a society who perceive themselves as underprivileged rebel and commit crimes against those perceived as privileged. Governments therefore become just when they enforce the basic natural duties and protect the human rights flowing therefrom that constitute the social contract. And individuals become ethical when they freely acknowledge and affirm obedience to these basic duties as a personal obligation and give their informed consent to respect and honor the human rights of all other human beings.
The Social Contract and the Constitution
A constitution is generally defined as a body of rules which regulates the system of government. In the legal sense the constitution is the supreme (positive) legal norm of a certain legal order. This means that it functions as the ultimate source for all positive law of the legal order. All inferior norms of the system can be assessed against the constitution for their validity whereas the constitution itself cannot. The constitution thereby provides the “operative system” for any legal order. However, taken in a broader sense the constitution is something more than merely a set of legal rules typically contained in a document called “the constitution”. The constitution also concerns the public morality – the moral fundamental values and structures – of the political society that it regulates and this is where the social contract comes into the picture. The substance of the social contract determines how the major social institutions should be designed and what sort of political and economic action that can be held to be consistent with the principles of justice that can be derived from the social contract.
The Legitimating Function of the Social Contract
It is plain that, following Rawls, contractarian methodology has gained prominence because it offers a method to assess objectively whether particular policies are legitimate. There could be two different avenues to assess legitimacy. The first focuses on the normative role of the state; the second on the needs of the individual. The first avenue has much in common with early social contract theorists, who sought justification for the existence and power of government. The inquiry is similar because, by delineating the normative role of the state (i.e. what it should do), one can decide if it is justified in holding the powers it holds. In the modern era, the state power most relevant to our purposes is the power to tax earned income or profits. This power has increased several times across the various countries from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, and where welfare transfers are concerned, has continued to increase since then. While classic ‘public goods’ such as defense, law enforcement, public order, and local administration have remained at about 30% of the United Kingdom GDP, for example, the vast bulk of expenditure was used to fund social security and housing (33%), health (17%), and education (15%).
A human right is a relationship arising from our nature as human beings that entitles an individual to certain conduct from all others. It is a contractual right flowing from the social contract that imposes upon all others the necessary and universal duty to act or refrain from acting in a certain way. A human right, however, should not be confused with a possession, like an apple or a house. Nor should it be equated with a human power, like the power to think or see or live. Rather, a human right is a relationship between an individual and all others that entitles a person to certain conduct from every other person and from society.
So we see that universal human rights are real, They are derived from our biological nature as social animals and the logical principle of reciprocity as applied by reasonable people through a theoretical social contract. Rights, of course, imply duties, and those duties fall as much upon governments as individuals. So rights cannot be abolished by governments or even by democratic majorities; they can only be recognized.
1. International Human Rights Law(Second Edition) Javaid Rehman
2. Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice (Second Edition) Jack Donnelly
3. Rousseau The Social Contract
4. District Court of Appeal of California, (1931). US 359. Stromberg. 283
5. Supreme Court of United States, (1942) Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson, 316 U.S. 535
6. U.S. Supreme Court, (1872)Slaughterhouse Cases – 83 U.S. 36
7. Union of Indi, (1980), 1980 AIR 1579, 1980 SCR (2) 557
1. Human rights. (2011). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved
2. Ingersoll. (2000,june1) Social contact and human rights. Retrieved from http://www.humanistsofutah.org/2000/discjun00.html.
<href=”#_ftnref1″ name=”_ftn1″ title=””>http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Social+contract?s=t
<href=”#_ftnref2″ name=”_ftn2″ title=””>The nature of human rights: Commonly accepted postulates. (2011). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/275840/human-rights/219325/The-nature-of-human-rights-Commonly-accepted-postulates.