What are Human Rights?
Human Rights are entitlements and freedoms which belong to all persons simply because they are human beings. These rights are guaranteed to everyone without any kind of distinction. It does not take into consideration race, colour, sex, place or residence, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, political opinions, religion or any other status.
The Importance of Recognising Human Rights
Human rights are important because they reflect the minimum standards necessary for people to live in dignity. They give people the freedom to choose how they live, how they express themselves, what kind of government they want to support, how they want to worship or not worship among other things. They also provide the means necessary to satisfy people’s basic needs such as food, housing and education so they take full advantage of all opportunities. Human rights are important because they guarantee life, liberty, security and equality and protect people from being abused by those who are more powerful.
Responsibility to Protect Rights: The State | The Citizen
Governments have the primary responsibility for protecting and promoting human rights. However, it is not the responsibility of the government alone. Every citizen has a role to play. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) states that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction. This means that not only governments but business, civil society and individuals are responsible for promoting and respecting human rights.
Principles of Human Rights
Universal – Human rights belong to all people
Inalienable – Human Rights cannot be taken away
Indivisible – Human rights cannot be treated in isolation
Interdependent – Human rights are dependent on one another
Non-Discriminatory – Human rights should be respected without prejudice
Categories of Human Rights
Civil and Political Rights – These rights guarantee free and equal participation in civil and political life without discrimination or repression. Some examples include: The right to be treated as an equal to anyone else in society, freedom of movement, freedom of speech and the right to vote.
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – These rights require the state to guarantee basic necessities and growth opportunities. Some examples include: The right to participate in an economy that benefits all and to desirable work, the right to education, health care, food, clothing, shelter and social security.
Collective Rights – These are rights held by a group rather than its members separately. They affirm the collective identity of groups in society and create a society where people of different identities can exist. Some examples include: The right to a health environment, the right to speak ones language and educate children in that language and the rights of indigenous peoples.