Human rights

Human rights are moral principles or norms[1] that describe certain standards of human behaviour and are regularly protected as natural and legal rights in municipal and international law.[2] They are commonly understood as inalienable,[3] fundamental rights "to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being"[4] and which are "inherent in all human beings",[5] regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethnic origin or any other status.[3] They are applicable everywhere and at every time in the sense of being universal,[1] and they are egalitarian in the sense of being the same for everyone.[3] They are regarded as requiring empathy and the rule of law[6] and imposing an obligation on persons to respect the human rights of others,[1][3] and it is generally considered that they should not be taken away except as a result of due process based on specific circumstances;[3] for example, human rights may include freedom from unlawful imprisonment, torture and execution.[7]

The doctrine of human rights has been highly influential within international law, global and regional institutions.[3] Actions by states and non-governmental organisations form a basis of public policy worldwide. The idea of human rights[8] 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". 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. The precise meaning of the term right is controversial and is the subject of continued philosophical debate;[9] while there is consensus that human rights encompasses a wide variety of rights[5] such as the right to a fair trial, protection against enslavement, prohibition of genocide, free speech[10] or a right to education, there is disagreement about which of these particular rights should be included within the general framework of human rights;[1] 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.[1][11]

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,[6] culminating in the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Paris by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world ...

— 1st sentence of the Preamble to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

— Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[12]

History of the concept

Ancient peoples did not have the same modern-day conception of universal human rights.[13] 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.[6] From this foundation, the modern human rights arguments emerged over the latter half of the 20th century.[14]

16th–18th century

Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen approved by the National Assembly of France, 26 August 1789

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. In Britain in 1689, the English Bill of Rights and the Scottish Claim of Right each made illegal a range of oppressive governmental actions.[15] 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. Additionally, the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776 encoded into law a number of fundamental civil rights and civil freedoms.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

— United States Declaration of Independence, 1776

These were followed by developments in philosophy of human rights by philosophers such as Thomas Paine, John Stuart Mill and G.W.F. Hegel during the 18th and 19th centuries. The term human rights probably came into use some time between Paine's The Rights of Man and William Lloyd Garrison's 1831 writings in The Liberator, in which he stated that he was trying to enlist his readers in "the great cause of human rights". Although the term had been used by at least one author as early as 1742.[16]

19th century

In the 19th century, human rights became a central concern over the issue of slavery.[6] A number of reformers, notably British Member of Parliament William Wilberforce, worked towards the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade and abolition of slavery. This was achieved across the British Empire by the Slave Trade Act 1807, which was enforced internationally by the Royal Navy under treaties Britain negotiated with other nations,[17] and the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. In the United States, all the northern states had abolished the institution of slavery between 1777 and 1804, although southern states clung tightly to the "peculiar institution". Conflict and debates over the expansion of slavery to new territories constituted one of the reasons for the southern states' secession and the American Civil War. During the reconstruction period immediately following the war, several amendments to the United States Constitution were made. These included the 13th amendment, banning slavery, the 14th amendment, assuring full citizenship and civil rights to all people born in the United States, and the 15th amendment, guaranteeing African Americans the right to vote. In Russia, the reformer Tsar Alexander II ended serfdom in 1861,[6] although the freed serfs often faced restrictions of their mobility within the nation.

Many groups and movements have achieved profound social changes over the course of the 20th century in the name of human rights. In 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. The women's rights movement succeeded in gaining for many women the right to vote. National liberation movements in many countries succeeded in driving out colonial powers. One of the most influential was Mahatma Gandhi's movement to free his native India from British rule. Movements by long-oppressed racial and religious minorities succeeded in many parts of the world, among them the civil rights movement, and more recent movements, on behalf of women and minorities in the United States.

The establishment 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.

20th century

The World Wars, and the huge losses of life and gross abuses of human rights that took place during them, were a driving force behind the development of modern human rights instruments. The League of Nations was established in 1919 at the negotiations over the Treaty of Versailles following the end of World War I. The League's goals included disarmament, preventing war through collective security, settling disputes between countries through negotiation and diplomacy, and improving global welfare. Enshrined in its charter was a mandate to promote many of the rights later included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

At the 1945 Yalta Conference, the Allied Powers agreed to create a new body to supplant the League's role; this was to be the United Nations. The United Nations has played an important role in international human-rights law since its creation. Following the World Wars, the United Nations and its members developed much of the discourse and the bodies of law that now make up international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Menseregte
Alemannisch: Menschenrechte
العربية: حقوق الإنسان
aragonés: Dreitos humans
asturianu: Derechos humanos
azərbaycanca: İnsan hüquqları
Bân-lâm-gú: Jîn-koân
башҡортса: Кеше хоҡуҡтары
беларуская: Правы чалавека
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Правы чалавека
български: Права на човека
bosanski: Ljudska prava
brezhoneg: Gwirioù mab-den
буряад: Хүнэй эрхэ
català: Drets humans
čeština: Lidská práva
Cymraeg: Hawliau dynol
davvisámegiella: Olmmošvuoigatvuođat
Esperanto: Homaj rajtoj
estremeñu: Derechus Umanus
فارسی: حقوق بشر
Fiji Hindi: Insaan ke adhikaar
føroyskt: Mannarættindi
Gaeilge: Cearta daonna
한국어: 인권
हिन्दी: मानवाधिकार
hrvatski: Ljudska prava
Bahasa Indonesia: Hak asasi manusia
interlingua: Derectos human
íslenska: Mannréttindi
italiano: Diritti umani
Basa Jawa: Hak manungsa
Kabɩyɛ: Ɛyʊ waɖɛ
къарачай-малкъар: Адамны эркинликлери
Kiswahili: Haki za binadamu
Кыргызча: Адам укуктары
Latina: Iura humana
latviešu: Cilvēktiesības
lietuvių: Žmogaus teisės
la .lojban.: remna selcru
magyar: Emberi jogok
मैथिली: मानवाधिकार
македонски: Човекови права
Bahasa Melayu: Hak asasi manusia
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Ìng-guòng
монгол: Хүний эрх
မြန်မာဘာသာ: လူ့အခွင့်အရေး
नेपाल भाषा: मनु अधिकार
日本語: 人権
norsk nynorsk: Menneskerettar
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Inson huquqlari
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਮਨੁੱਖੀ ਹੱਕ
پنجابی: انسانی حق
ភាសាខ្មែរ: សិទ្ធិមនុស្ស
Piemontèis: Drit ëd l'Òm
português: Direitos humanos
rumantsch: Dretgs umans
Runa Simi: Runa hayñi
русиньскый: Людьскы права
sicilianu: Dritti umani
Simple English: Human rights
slovenčina: Ľudské práva
slovenščina: Človekove pravice
Soomaaliga: Xuquuqda dadka
српски / srpski: Људска права
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Ljudska prava
татарча/tatarça: Кеше хокуклары
Türkçe: İnsan hakları
українська: Права людини
Tiếng Việt: Nhân quyền
文言: 人權
吴语: 人權
ייִדיש: מענטשן רעכט
粵語: 人權
žemaitėška: Žmuogaus teisės
中文: 人权