Human rights

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For other uses, see Human rights (disambiguation). Human rights_sentence_0

Human rights are moral principles or norms that describe certain standards of human behaviour and are regularly protected in municipal and international law. Human rights_sentence_1

They are commonly understood as inalienable, fundamental rights "to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being" and which are "inherent in all human beings", regardless of their age, ethnic origin, location, language, religion, ethnicity, or any other status. Human rights_sentence_2

They are applicable everywhere and at every time in the sense of being universal, and they are egalitarian in the sense of being the same for everyone. Human rights_sentence_3

They are regarded as requiring empathy and the rule of law and imposing an obligation on persons to respect the human rights of others, and it is generally considered that they should not be taken away except as a result of due process based on specific circumstances. Human rights_sentence_4

The doctrine of human rights has been highly influential within international law and global and regional institutions. Human rights_sentence_5

Actions by states and non-governmental organisations form a basis of public policy worldwide. Human rights_sentence_6

The idea of human rights suggests that "if the public discourse of peacetime global society can be said to have a common moral language, it is that of human rights". Human rights_sentence_7

The strong claims made by the doctrine of human rights continue to provoke considerable scepticism and debates about the content, nature and justifications of human rights to this day. Human rights_sentence_8

The precise meaning of the term right is controversial and is the subject of continued philosophical debate; while there is consensus that human rights encompasses a wide variety of rights such as the right to a fair trial, protection against enslavement, prohibition of genocide, free speech or a right to education, there is disagreement about which of these particular rights should be included within the general framework of human rights; some thinkers suggest that human rights should be a minimum requirement to avoid the worst-case abuses, while others see it as a higher standard. Human rights_sentence_9

Many of the basic ideas that animated the human rights movement developed in the aftermath of the Second World War and the events of the Holocaust, culminating in the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Paris by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Human rights_sentence_10

Ancient peoples did not have the same modern-day conception of universal human rights. Human rights_sentence_11

The true forerunner of human rights discourse was the concept of natural rights which appeared as part of the medieval natural law tradition that became prominent during the European Enlightenment with such philosophers as John Locke, Francis Hutcheson and Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui and which featured prominently in the political discourse of the American Revolution and the French Revolution. Human rights_sentence_12

From this foundation, the modern human rights arguments emerged over the latter half of the 20th century, possibly as a reaction to slavery, torture, genocide and war crimes, as a realisation of inherent human vulnerability and as being a precondition for the possibility of a just society. Human rights_sentence_13

History Human rights_section_0

Main article: History of human rights Human rights_sentence_14

Ancient peoples did not have the same modern-day conception of universal human rights. Human rights_sentence_15

The true forerunner of human-rights discourse was the concept of natural rights which appeared as part of the medieval natural law tradition that became prominent during the European Enlightenment. Human rights_sentence_16

From this foundation, the modern human rights arguments emerged over the latter half of the 20th century. Human rights_sentence_17

17th-century English philosopher John Locke discussed natural rights in his work, identifying them as being "life, liberty, and estate (property)", and argued that such fundamental rights could not be surrendered in the social contract. Human rights_sentence_18

In Britain in 1689, the English Bill of Rights and the Scottish Claim of Right each made illegal a range of oppressive governmental actions. Human rights_sentence_19

Two major revolutions occurred during the 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 which articulated certain human rights. Human rights_sentence_20

Additionally, the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776 encoded into law a number of fundamental civil rights and civil freedoms. Human rights_sentence_21

1800 to World War I Human rights_section_1

Philosophers such as Thomas Paine, John Stuart Mill and Hegel expanded on the theme of universality during the 18th and 19th centuries. Human rights_sentence_22

In 1831 William Lloyd Garrison wrote in a newspaper called The Liberator that he was trying to enlist his readers in "the great cause of human rights" so the term human rights probably came into use sometime between Paine's The Rights of Man and Garrison's publication. Human rights_sentence_23

In 1849 a contemporary, Henry David Thoreau, wrote about human rights in his treatise On the Duty of Civil Disobedience which was later influential on human rights and civil rights thinkers. Human rights_sentence_24

United States Supreme Court Justice David Davis, in his 1867 opinion for Ex Parte Milligan, wrote "By the protection of the law, human rights are secured; withdraw that protection and they are at the mercy of wicked rulers or the clamor of an excited people." Human rights_sentence_25

Many groups and movements have managed to achieve profound social changes over the course of the 20th century in the name of human rights. Human rights_sentence_26

In Western 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. Human rights_sentence_27

The women's rights movement succeeded in gaining for many women the right to vote. Human rights_sentence_28

National liberation movements in many countries succeeded in driving out colonial powers. Human rights_sentence_29

One of the most influential was Mahatma Gandhi's movement to free his native India from British rule. Human rights_sentence_30

Movements by long-oppressed racial and religious minorities succeeded in many parts of the world, among them the civil rights movement, and more recent diverse identity politics movements, on behalf of women and minorities in the United States. Human rights_sentence_31

The foundation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the 1864 Lieber Code and the first of the Geneva Conventions in 1864 laid the foundations of International humanitarian law, to be further developed following the two World Wars. Human rights_sentence_32

Between World War I and World War II Human rights_section_2

The League of Nations was established in 1919 at the negotiations over the Treaty of Versailles following the end of World War I. Human rights_sentence_33

The League's goals included disarmament, preventing war through collective security, settling disputes between countries through negotiation, diplomacy and improving global welfare. Human rights_sentence_34

Enshrined in its Charter was a mandate to promote many of the rights which were later included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human rights_sentence_35

The League of Nations had mandates to support many of the former colonies of the Western European colonial powers during their transition from colony to independent state. Human rights_sentence_36

Established as an agency of the League of Nations, and now part of United Nations, the International Labour Organization also had a mandate to promote and safeguard certain of the rights later included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): Human rights_sentence_37

After World War II Human rights_section_3

On the issue of "universal", the declarations did not apply to domestic discrimination or racism. Human rights_sentence_38

Henry J. Richardson III has argued: Human rights_sentence_39

Human rights_description_list_0

  • All major governments at the time of drafting the U.N. charter and the Universal declaration did their best to ensure, by all means known to domestic and international law, that these principles had only international application and carried no legal obligation on those governments to be implemented domestically. All tacitly realized that for their own discriminated-against minorities to acquire leverage on the basis of legally being able to claim enforcement of these wide-reaching rights would create pressures that would be political dynamite.Human rights_item_0_0

Universal Declaration of Human Rights Human rights_section_4

Main article: Universal Declaration of Human Rights Human rights_sentence_40

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a non-binding declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, partly in response to the barbarism of World War II. Human rights_sentence_41

The UDHR urges member states to promote a number of human, civil, economic and social rights, asserting these rights are part of the "foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world". Human rights_sentence_42

The declaration was the first international legal effort to limit the behavior of states and press upon them duties to their citizens following the model of the rights-duty duality. Human rights_sentence_43

The UDHR was framed by members of the Human Rights Commission, with Eleanor Roosevelt as Chair, who began to discuss an International Bill of Rights in 1947. Human rights_sentence_44

The members of the Commission did not immediately agree on the form of such a bill of rights, and whether, or how, it should be enforced. Human rights_sentence_45

The Commission proceeded to frame the UDHR and accompanying treaties, but the UDHR quickly became the priority. Human rights_sentence_46

Canadian law professor John Humprey and French lawyer Rene Cassin were responsible for much of the cross-national research and the structure of the document respectively, where the articles of the declaration were interpretative of the general principle of the preamble. Human rights_sentence_47

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 individuals; rights of individuals in relation to each other and to groups; spiritual, public and political rights; and economic, social and cultural rights. Human rights_sentence_48

The final three articles place, according to Cassin, rights in the context of limits, duties and the social and political order in which they are to be realized. Human rights_sentence_49

Humphrey and Cassin intended the rights in the UDHR to be legally enforceable through some means, as is reflected in the third clause of the preamble: Human rights_sentence_50

Some of the UDHR was researched and written by a committee of international experts on human rights, including representatives from all continents and all major religions, and drawing on consultation with leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi. Human rights_sentence_51

The inclusion of both civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights was predicated on the assumption that basic human rights are indivisible and that the different types of rights listed are inextricably linked. Human rights_sentence_52

Though this principle was not opposed by any member states at the time of adoption (the declaration was adopted unanimously, with the abstention of the Soviet bloc, Apartheid South Africa and Saudi Arabia), this principle was later subject to significant challenges. Human rights_sentence_53

The onset of the Cold War soon after the UDHR was conceived brought to the fore divisions over the inclusion of both economic and social rights and civil and political rights in the declaration. Human rights_sentence_54

Capitalist states tended to place strong emphasis on civil and political rights (such as freedom of association and expression), and were reluctant to include economic and social rights (such as the right to work and the right to join a union). Human rights_sentence_55

Socialist states placed much greater importance on economic and social rights and argued strongly for their inclusion. Human rights_sentence_56

Because of the divisions over which rights to include, and because some states declined to ratify any treaties including certain specific interpretations of human rights, and despite the Soviet bloc and a number of developing countries arguing strongly for the inclusion of all rights in a so-called Unity Resolution, the rights enshrined in the UDHR were split into two separate covenants, allowing states to adopt some rights and derogate others. Human rights_sentence_57

Though this allowed the covenants to be created, it denied the proposed principle that all rights are linked which was central to some interpretations of the UDHR. Human rights_sentence_58

Although the UDHR is a non-binding resolution, it is now considered to be a central component of international customary law which may be invoked under appropriate circumstances by state judiciaries and other judiciaries. Human rights_sentence_59

Human Rights Treaties Human rights_section_5

In 1966, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on 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. Human rights_sentence_60

However, they came into force only in 1976, when they were ratified by a sufficient number of countries (despite achieving the ICCPR, a covenant including no economic or social rights, the US only ratified the ICCPR in 1992). Human rights_sentence_61

The ICESCR commits 155 state parties to work toward the granting of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) to individuals. Human rights_sentence_62

Since then numerous other treaties (pieces of legislation) have been offered at the international level. Human rights_sentence_63

They are generally known as human rights instruments. Human rights_sentence_64

Some of the most significant are: Human rights_sentence_65

Human rights_unordered_list_1

International bodies Human rights_section_6

The United Nations Human rights_section_7

Main article: United Nations Human rights_sentence_66

The United Nations (UN) is the only multilateral governmental agency with universally accepted international jurisdiction for universal human rights legislation. Human rights_sentence_67

All UN organs have advisory roles to the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations Human Rights Council, and there are numerous committees within the UN with responsibilities for safeguarding different human rights treaties. Human rights_sentence_68

The most senior body of the UN with regard to human rights is the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Human rights_sentence_69

The United Nations has an international mandate to: Human rights_sentence_70

Protection at the international level Human rights_section_8

Human Rights Council Human rights_section_9

Main article: United Nations Human Rights Council Human rights_sentence_71

The UN Human Rights Council, created in 2005, has a mandate to investigate alleged human rights violations. Human rights_sentence_72

47 of the 193 UN member states sit on the Council, elected by simple majority in a secret ballot of the United Nations General Assembly. Human rights_sentence_73

Members serve a maximum of six years and may have their membership suspended for gross human rights abuses. Human rights_sentence_74

The Council is based in Geneva, and meets three times a year; with additional meetings to respond to urgent situations. Human rights_sentence_75

Independent experts (rapporteurs) are retained by the Council to investigate alleged human rights abuses and to report to the Council. Human rights_sentence_76

The Human Rights Council may request that the Security Council refer cases to the International Criminal Court (ICC) even if the issue being referred is outside the normal jurisdiction of the ICC. Human rights_sentence_77

UN treaty bodies Human rights_section_10

In addition to the political bodies whose mandate flows from the UN charter, the UN has set up a number of treaty-based bodies, comprising committees of independent experts who monitor compliance with human rights standards and norms flowing from the core international human rights treaties. Human rights_sentence_78

They are supported by and are created by the treaty that they monitor, With the exception of the CESCR, which was established under a resolution of the Economic 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 those treaties – rather than subsidiary to the United Nations, though in practice they are closely intertwined with the United Nations system and are supported by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) and the UN Centre for Human Rights. Human rights_sentence_79

Human rights_unordered_list_2

  • The Human Rights Committee promotes participation with the standards of the ICCPR. The members of the committee express opinions on member countries and make judgments on individual complaints against 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 sessionsHuman rights_item_2_8
  • The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights monitors the ICESCR and makes general comments on ratifying countries performance. It will have the power to receive complaints against the countries that opted into 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 Economic and Social Council and ultimately to the General Assembly. This means that the Economic Committee faces particular difficulties at its disposal only relatively "weak" means of implementation in comparison to other treaty bodies. 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 and cultural rights, comparatively few non-governmental organisations focused on the area and problems with obtaining relevant and precise information.Human rights_item_2_9
  • The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination monitors the CERD and conducts regular reviews of 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.Human rights_item_2_10
  • 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_item_2_11
  • The Committee Against Torture monitors the CAT and receives states' reports on their performance every four years and comments on them. Its subcommittee may visit and inspect countries which have opted into the Optional Protocol.Human rights_item_2_12
  • The Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors the CRC and makes comments on reports submitted by states every five years. It does not have the power to receive complaints.Human rights_item_2_13
  • The Committee on Migrant Workers was established in 2004 and monitors the ICRMW and makes comments on 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.Human rights_item_2_14
  • The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was established in 2008 to monitor the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It has the power to receive complaints against the countries which have opted into the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.Human rights_item_2_15
  • The Committee on Enforced Disappearances monitors the ICPPED. All States parties are obliged to submit 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".Human rights_item_2_16

Each treaty body receives secretariat support from the Human Rights Council and Treaties Division of Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva except CEDAW, which is supported by the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW). Human rights_sentence_80

CEDAW formerly held all its sessions at United Nations headquarters in New York but now frequently meets at the United Nations Office in Geneva; the other treaty bodies meet in Geneva. Human rights_sentence_81

The Human Rights Committee usually holds its March session in New York City. Human rights_sentence_82

Regional human rights regimes Human rights_section_11

See also: List of human rights articles by country and National human rights institutions Human rights_sentence_83

There are many regional agreements and organizations promoting and governing human rights. Human rights_sentence_84

Africa Human rights_section_12

Main article: Human rights in Africa Human rights_sentence_85

The African Union (AU) is a supranational union consisting of fifty-five African states. Human rights_sentence_86

Established in 2001, the AU's purpose is to help secure Africa's democracy, human rights, and a sustainable economy, especially by bringing an end to intra-African conflict and creating an effective common market. Human rights_sentence_87

The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) is a quasi-judicial organ of the African Union tasked with promoting and protecting human rights and collective (peoples') rights throughout the African continent as well as interpreting the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and considering individual complaints of violations of the Charter. Human rights_sentence_88

The Commission has three broad areas of responsibility: Human rights_sentence_89

Human rights_unordered_list_3

In pursuit of these goals, the Commission is mandated to "collect documents, undertake studies and researches on African problems in the field of human and peoples, rights, organise seminars, symposia and conferences, disseminate information, encourage national and local institutions concerned with human and peoples' rights and, should the case arise, give its views or make recommendations to governments" (Charter, Art. Human rights_sentence_90

45). Human rights_sentence_91

With the creation of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (under a protocol to the Charter which was adopted in 1998 and entered into force in January 2004), the Commission will have the additional task of preparing cases for submission to the Court's jurisdiction. Human rights_sentence_92

In a July 2004 decision, the AU Assembly resolved that the future Court on Human and Peoples' Rights would be integrated with the African Court of Justice. Human rights_sentence_93

The Court of Justice of the African Union is intended to be the "principal judicial organ of the Union" (Protocol of the Court of Justice of the African Union, Article 2.2). Human rights_sentence_94

Although it has not yet been established, it is intended to take over the duties of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, as well as act as the supreme court of the African Union, interpreting all necessary laws and treaties. Human rights_sentence_95

The Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights entered into force in January 2004 but its merging with the Court of Justice has delayed its establishment. Human rights_sentence_96

The Protocol establishing the Court of Justice will come into force when ratified by 15 countries. Human rights_sentence_97

There are many countries in Africa accused of human rights violations by the international community and NGOs. Human rights_sentence_98

Americas Human rights_section_13

The Organization of American States (OAS) is an international organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. Human rights_sentence_99

Its members are the thirty-five independent states of the Americas. Human rights_sentence_100

Over the course of the 1990s, with the end of the Cold War, the return to democracy in Latin America, and the thrust toward globalization, the OAS made major efforts to reinvent itself to fit the new context. Human rights_sentence_101

Its stated priorities now include the following: Human rights_sentence_102

Human rights_unordered_list_4

  • Strengthening democracyHuman rights_item_4_20
  • Working for peaceHuman rights_item_4_21
  • Protecting human rightsHuman rights_item_4_22
  • Combating corruptionHuman rights_item_4_23
  • The rights of Indigenous PeoplesHuman rights_item_4_24
  • Promoting sustainable developmentHuman rights_item_4_25

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the IACHR) is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States, also based in Washington, D.C. Human rights_sentence_103

Along with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in San José, Costa Rica, it is one of the bodies that comprise the inter-American system for the promotion and protection of human rights. Human rights_sentence_104

The IACHR is a permanent body which meets in regular and special sessions several times a year to examine allegations of human rights violations in the hemisphere. Human rights_sentence_105

Its human rights duties stem from three documents: Human rights_sentence_106

Human rights_unordered_list_5

The Inter-Americal Court of Human Rights was established in 1979 with the purpose of enforcing and interpreting the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights. Human rights_sentence_107

Its two main functions are thus adjudicatory and advisory. Human rights_sentence_108

Under the former, it hears and rules on the specific cases of human rights violations referred to it. Human rights_sentence_109

Under the latter, it issues opinions on matters of legal interpretation brought to its attention by other OAS bodies or member states. Human rights_sentence_110

Asia Human rights_section_14

Main articles: Human rights in Asia, Human rights in East Asia, Human rights in Central Asia, and Human Rights in the Middle East Human rights_sentence_111

There are no Asia-wide organisations or conventions to promote or protect human rights. Human rights_sentence_112

Countries vary widely in their approach to human rights and their record of human rights protection. Human rights_sentence_113

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a geo-political and economic organization of 10 countries located in Southeast Asia, which was formed in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Human rights_sentence_114

The organisation now also includes Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. Human rights_sentence_115

In October 2009, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights was inaugurated, and subsequently, the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration was adopted unanimously by ASEAN members on 18 November 2012. Human rights_sentence_116

The Arab Charter on Human Rights (ACHR) was adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States on 22 May 2004. Human rights_sentence_117

Europe Human rights_section_15

Main article: Human rights in Europe Human rights_sentence_118

See also: Human rights in the Soviet Union Human rights_sentence_119

The Council of Europe, founded in 1949, is the oldest organisation working for European integration. Human rights_sentence_120

It is an international organisation with legal personality recognised under public international law and has observer status with the United Nations. Human rights_sentence_121

The seat of the Council of Europe is in Strasbourg in France. Human rights_sentence_122

The Council of Europe is responsible for both the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights. Human rights_sentence_123

These institutions bind the Council's members to a code of human rights which, though strict, are more lenient than those of the United Nations charter on human rights. Human rights_sentence_124

The Council also promotes the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the European Social Charter. Human rights_sentence_125

Membership is open to all European states which seek European integration, accept the principle of the rule of law and are able and willing to guarantee democracy, fundamental human rights and freedoms. Human rights_sentence_126

The Council of Europe is an organisation that is not part of the European Union, but the latter is expected to accede to the European Convention and potentially the Council itself. Human rights_sentence_127

The EU has its own human rights document; the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Human rights_sentence_128

The European Convention on Human Rights defines and guarantees since 1950 human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. Human rights_sentence_129

All 47 member states of the Council of Europe have signed this Convention and are therefore under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Human rights_sentence_130

In order to prevent torture and inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 3 of the Convention), the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture was established. Human rights_sentence_131

Philosophies of human rights Human rights_section_16

Several theoretical approaches have been advanced to explain how and why human rights become part of social expectations. Human rights_sentence_132

One of the oldest Western philosophies on human rights is that they are a product of a natural law, stemming from different philosophical or religious grounds. Human rights_sentence_133

Other theories hold that human rights codify moral behavior which is a human social product developed by a process of biological and social evolution (associated with Hume). Human rights_sentence_134

Human rights are also described as a sociological pattern of rule setting (as in the sociological theory of law and the work of Weber). Human rights_sentence_135

These approaches include the notion that individuals in a society accept rules from legitimate authority in exchange for security and economic advantage (as in Rawls) – a social contract. Human rights_sentence_136

Natural rights Human rights_section_17

Main articles: Natural law and Natural rights Human rights_sentence_137

Natural law theories base human rights on a "natural" moral, religious or even biological order which is independent of transitory human laws or traditions. Human rights_sentence_138

Socrates and his philosophic heirs, Plato and Aristotle, posited the existence of natural justice or natural right (dikaion physikon, δικαιον φυσικον, Latin ius naturale). Human rights_sentence_139

Of these, Aristotle is often said to be the father of natural law, although evidence for this is due largely to the interpretations of his work of Thomas Aquinas. Human rights_sentence_140

The development of this tradition of natural justice into one of natural law is usually attributed to the Stoics. Human rights_sentence_141

Some of the early Church fathers sought to incorporate the until then pagan concept of natural law into Christianity. Human rights_sentence_142

Natural law theories have featured greatly in the philosophies of Thomas Aquinas, Francisco Suárez, Richard Hooker, Thomas Hobbes, Hugo Grotius, Samuel von Pufendorf, and John Locke. Human rights_sentence_143

In the Seventeenth Century Thomas Hobbes founded a contractualist theory of legal positivism on what all men could agree upon: what they sought (happiness) was subject to contention, but a broad consensus could form around what they feared (violent death at the hands of another). Human rights_sentence_144

The natural law was how a rational human being, seeking to survive and prosper, would act. Human rights_sentence_145

It was discovered by considering humankind's natural rights, whereas previously it could be said that natural rights were discovered by considering the natural law. Human rights_sentence_146

In Hobbes' opinion, the only way natural law could prevail was for men to submit to the commands of the sovereign. Human rights_sentence_147

In this lay the foundations of the theory of a social contract between the governed and the governor. Human rights_sentence_148

Hugo Grotius based his philosophy of international law on natural law. Human rights_sentence_149

He wrote that "even the will of an omnipotent being cannot change or abrogate" natural law, which "would maintain its objective validity even if we should assume the impossible, that there is no God or that he does not care for human affairs." Human rights_sentence_150

(De iure belli ac pacis, Prolegomeni XI). Human rights_sentence_151

This is the famous argument etiamsi daremus (non-esse Deum), that made natural law no longer dependent on theology. Human rights_sentence_152

John Locke incorporated natural law into many of his theories and philosophy, especially in Two Treatises of Government. Human rights_sentence_153

Locke turned Hobbes' prescription around, saying that if the ruler went against natural law and failed to protect "life, liberty, and property," people could justifiably overthrow the existing state and create a new one. Human rights_sentence_154

The Belgian philosopher of law Frank van Dun is one among those who are elaborating a secular conception of natural law in the liberal tradition. Human rights_sentence_155

There are also emerging and secular forms of natural law theory that define human rights as derivative of the notion of universal human dignity. Human rights_sentence_156

The term "human rights" has replaced the term "natural rights" in popularity, because the rights are less and less frequently seen as requiring natural law for their existence. Human rights_sentence_157

Other theories of human rights Human rights_section_18

The philosopher John Finnis argues that human rights are justifiable on the grounds of their instrumental value in creating the necessary conditions for human well-being. Human rights_sentence_158

Interest theories highlight the duty to respect the rights of other individuals on grounds of self-interest: Human rights_sentence_159

The biological theory considers the comparative reproductive advantage of human social behavior based on empathy and altruism in the context of natural selection. Human rights_sentence_160

Concepts in human rights Human rights_section_19

Indivisibility and categorization of rights Human rights_section_20

The most common categorization of human rights is to split them into civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights. Human rights_sentence_161

Civil and political rights are enshrined in articles 3 to 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the ICCPR. Human rights_sentence_162

Economic, social and cultural rights are enshrined in articles 22 to 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the ICESCR. Human rights_sentence_163

The UDHR included both economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights because it was based on the principle that the different rights could only successfully exist in combination: Human rights_sentence_164

This is held to be true because without civil and political rights the public cannot assert their economic, social and cultural rights. Human rights_sentence_165

Similarly, without livelihoods and a working society, the public cannot assert or make use of civil or political rights (known as the full belly thesis) Human rights_sentence_166

Although accepted by the signatories to the UDHR, most of them do not in practice give equal weight to the different types of rights. Human rights_sentence_167

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. Human rights_sentence_168

For example, in the United States there is no universal access to healthcare free at the point of use. Human rights_sentence_169

That is not to say that Western cultures have overlooked these rights entirely (the welfare states that exist in Western Europe are evidence of this). Human rights_sentence_170

Similarly the ex Soviet bloc countries and Asian countries have tended to give priority to economic, social and cultural rights, but have often failed to provide civil and political rights. Human rights_sentence_171

Another categorization, offered 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) and third-generation solidarity rights (right to peace, right to clean environment). Human rights_sentence_172

Out of these generations, the third generation is the most debated and lacks both legal and political recognition. Human rights_sentence_173

This categorisation is at odds with the indivisibility of rights, as it implicitly states that some rights can exist without others. Human rights_sentence_174

Prioritisation of rights for pragmatic reasons is however a widely accepted necessity. Human rights_sentence_175

Human rights expert Philip Alston argues: Human rights_sentence_176

He, and others, urge caution with prioritisation of rights: Human rights_sentence_177

Some human rights are said to be "inalienable rights". Human rights_sentence_178

The term inalienable rights (or unalienable rights) refers to "a set of human rights that are fundamental, are not awarded by human power, and cannot be surrendered". Human rights_sentence_179

The adherence to the principle of indivisibility by the international community was reaffirmed in 1995: Human rights_sentence_180

This statement was again endorsed at the 2005 World Summit in New York (paragraph 121). Human rights_sentence_181

Universalism vs cultural relativism Human rights_section_21

Main articles: Cultural relativism, Moral relativism, Moral universalism, and Universal ethic Human rights_sentence_182

The UDHR enshrines, by definition, rights that apply to all humans equally, whichever geographical location, state, race or culture they belong to. Human rights_sentence_183

Proponents of cultural relativism suggest that human rights are not all universal, and indeed conflict with some cultures and threaten their survival. Human rights_sentence_184

Rights which are most often contested with relativistic arguments are the rights of women. Human rights_sentence_185

For example, Female genital mutilation occurs in different cultures in Africa, Asia and South America. Human rights_sentence_186

It is not mandated by any religion, but has become a tradition in many cultures. Human rights_sentence_187

It is considered a violation of women's and girl's rights by much of the international community, and is outlawed in some countries. Human rights_sentence_188

Universalism has been described by some as cultural, economic or political imperialism. Human rights_sentence_189

In particular, the concept of human rights is often claimed to be fundamentally rooted in a politically liberal outlook which, although generally accepted in Europe, Japan or North America, is not necessarily taken as standard elsewhere. Human rights_sentence_190

For example, in 1981, the Iranian representative to the United Nations, Said Rajaie-Khorassani, articulated the position of his country regarding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by saying that the UDHR was "a secular understanding of the Judeo-Christian tradition", which could not be implemented by Muslims without trespassing the Islamic law. Human rights_sentence_191

The former Prime Ministers of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, and of Malaysia, Mahathir bin Mohamad both claimed in the 1990s that Asian values were significantly different from western values and included a sense of loyalty and foregoing personal freedoms for the sake of social stability and prosperity, and therefore authoritarian government is more appropriate in Asia than democracy. Human rights_sentence_192

This view is countered by Mahathir's former deputy: Human rights_sentence_193

and also by Singapore's opposition leader Chee Soon Juan who states that it is racist to assert that Asians do not want human rights. Human rights_sentence_194

An appeal is often made to the fact that influential human rights thinkers, such as John Locke and John Stuart Mill, have all been Western and indeed that some were involved in the running of Empires themselves. Human rights_sentence_195

Relativistic arguments tend to neglect the fact that modern human rights are new to all cultures, dating back no further than the UDHR in 1948. Human rights_sentence_196

They also don't account for the fact that the UDHR was drafted by people from many different cultures and traditions, including a US Roman Catholic, a Chinese Confucian philosopher, a French Zionist and a representative from the Arab League, amongst others, and drew upon advice from thinkers such as Mahatma Gandhi. Human rights_sentence_197

Michael Ignatieff has argued that cultural relativism is almost exclusively an argument used by those who wield power in cultures which commit human rights abuses, and that those whose human rights are compromised are the powerless. Human rights_sentence_198

This reflects the fact that the difficulty in judging universalism versus relativism lies in who is claiming to represent a particular culture. Human rights_sentence_199

Although the argument between universalism and relativism is far from complete, it is an academic discussion in that all international human rights instruments adhere to the principle that human rights are universally applicable. Human rights_sentence_200

The 2005 World Summit reaffirmed the international community's adherence to this principle: Human rights_sentence_201

State and non-state actors Human rights_section_22

Companies, NGOs, political parties, informal groups, and individuals are known as non-State actors. Human rights_sentence_202

Non-State actors can also commit human rights abuses, but are not subject to human rights law other than International Humanitarian Law, which applies to individuals. Human rights_sentence_203

Multi-national companies play an increasingly large role in the world, and are responsible for a large number of human rights abuses. Human rights_sentence_204

Although the legal and moral environment surrounding the actions of governments is reasonably well developed, that surrounding multi-national companies is both controversial and ill-defined. Human rights_sentence_205

Multi-national companies' primary responsibility is to their shareholders, not to those affected by their actions. Human rights_sentence_206

Such companies are often larger than the economies of the states in which they operate, and can wield significant economic and political power. Human rights_sentence_207

No international treaties exist to specifically cover the behavior of companies with regard to human rights, and national legislation is very variable. Human rights_sentence_208

Jean Ziegler, Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights on the right to food stated in a report in 2003: Human rights_sentence_209

In August 2003 the Human Rights Commission's Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights produced draft Norms on the responsibilities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises with regard to human rights. Human rights_sentence_210

These were considered by the Human Rights Commission in 2004, but have no binding status on corporations and are not monitored. Human rights_sentence_211

Additionally, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 10 aims to substantially reduce inequality by 2030 through the promotion of appropriate legislation. Human rights_sentence_212

Human rights law Human rights_section_23

Main articles: Human rights law and International human rights instruments Human rights_sentence_213

Human rights vs national security Human rights_section_24

See also: National security, Anti-terrorism legislation, and War on terror Human rights_sentence_214

Realism and national loyalties have been described as a destructive influence on the human rights movement because they deny people's innately similar human qualities. Human rights_sentence_215

With the exception of non-derogable human rights (international conventions class the right to life, the right to be free from slavery, the right to be free from torture and the right to be free from retroactive application of penal laws as non-derogable), the UN recognises that human rights can be limited or even pushed aside during times of national emergency – although Human rights_sentence_216

Rights that cannot be derogated for reasons of national security in any circumstances are known as peremptory norms or jus cogens. Human rights_sentence_217

Such International law obligations are binding on all states and cannot be modified by treaty. Human rights_sentence_218

Legal instruments and jurisdiction Human rights_section_25

The human rights enshrined in the UDHR, the Geneva Conventions and the various enforced treaties of the United Nations are enforceable in law. Human rights_sentence_219

In practice, many rights are very difficult to legally enforce due to the absence of consensus on the application of certain rights, the lack of relevant national legislation or of bodies empowered to take legal action to enforce them. Human rights_sentence_220

There exist a number of internationally recognized organisations with worldwide mandate or jurisdiction over certain aspects of human rights: Human rights_sentence_221

Human rights_unordered_list_6

  • The International Court of Justice is the United Nations' primary judiciary body. It has worldwide jurisdiction. It is directed by the Security Council. The ICJ settles disputes between nations. The ICJ does not have jurisdiction over individuals.Human rights_item_6_29
  • The International Criminal Court is the body responsible for investigating and punishing war crimes, and Crimes against humanity when such occur within its jurisdiction, with a mandate to bring to justice perpetrators of such crimes that occurred after its creation in 2002. A number of UN members have not joined the court and the ICC does not have jurisdiction over their citizens, and others have signed but not yet ratified the Rome Statute, which established the court.Human rights_item_6_30

The ICC and other international courts (see Regional human rights above exist to take action where the national legal system of a state is unable to try the case itself. Human rights_sentence_222

If national law is able to safeguard human rights and punish those who breach human rights legislation, it has primary jurisdiction by complementarity. Human rights_sentence_223

Only when all local remedies have been exhausted does international law take effect. Human rights_sentence_224

In over 110 countries National human rights institutions (NHRIs) have been set up to protect, promote or monitor human rights with jurisdiction in a given country. Human rights_sentence_225

Although not all NHRIs are compliant with the Paris Principles, the number and effect of these institutions is increasing. Human rights_sentence_226

The Paris Principles were defined at the first International Workshop on National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Paris on 7–9 October 1991, and adopted by United Nations Human Rights Commission Resolution 1992/54 of 1992 and the General Assembly Resolution 48/134 of 1993. Human rights_sentence_227

The Paris Principles list a number of responsibilities for national institutions. Human rights_sentence_228

Universal jurisdiction is a controversial principle in international law whereby states claim criminal jurisdiction over persons whose alleged crimes were committed outside the boundaries of the prosecuting state, regardless of nationality, country of residence, or any other relation with the prosecuting country. Human rights_sentence_229

The state backs its claim on the grounds that the crime committed is considered a crime against all, which any state is authorized to punish. Human rights_sentence_230

The concept of universal jurisdiction is therefore closely linked to the idea that certain international norms are erga omnes, or owed to the entire world community, as well as the concept of jus cogens. Human rights_sentence_231

In 1993 Belgium passed a law of universal jurisdiction to give its courts jurisdiction over crimes against humanity in other countries, and in 1998 Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London following an indictment by Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon under the universal jurisdiction principle. Human rights_sentence_232

The principle is supported by Amnesty International and other human rights organisations as they believe certain crimes pose a threat to the international community as a whole and the community has a moral duty to act, but others, including Henry Kissinger (who has himself been accused of war crimes by several commentators), argue that state sovereignty is paramount, because breaches of rights committed in other countries are outside states' sovereign interest and because states could use the principle for political reasons. Human rights_sentence_233

Human rights violations Human rights_section_26

See also: Genocides in history Human rights_sentence_234


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human rights.