History of the concept
Although ideas of rights and liberty have existed in some form for much of human history, there is agreement that the earlier conceptions do not closely resemble the modern conceptions of human rights. According to Jack Donnelly, in the ancient world, "traditional societies typically have had elaborate systems of duties... conceptions of justice, political legitimacy, and human flourishing that sought to realise human dignity, flourishing, or well-being entirely independent of human rights. These institutions and practices are alternative to, rather than different formulations of, human rights".
 The history of human rights can be traced to past documents, particularly
Constitution of Medina (622),
Al-Risalah al-Huquq (late 7th to early 8th century),
Magna Carta (1215), the
German Peasants' War
Twelve Articles (1525), the
English Bill of Rights (1689), the French
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789), and the
Bill of Rights in the
United States Constitution (1791).
The modern sense of human rights can be traced to
Renaissance Europe and the
Protestant Reformation, alongside the disappearance of the
feudal authoritarianism and religious conservativism that dominated the
Middle Ages. One theory is that human rights were developed during the
early Modern period, alongside the European secularisation of Judeo-Christian ethics.
 The most commonly held view is that the concept of human rights evolved in the West, and that while earlier cultures had important ethical concepts, they generally lacked a concept of human rights. For example, McIntyre argues there is no word for "right" in any language before 1400.
 Medieval charters of liberty such as the English
Magna Carta were not charters of human rights, rather they were the foundation
 and constituted a form of limited political and legal agreement to address specific political circumstances, in the case of Magna Carta later being recognised in the course of early modern debates about rights.
 One of the oldest records of human rights is the
statute of Kalisz (1264), giving privileges to the Jewish minority in the
Kingdom of Poland such as protection from discrimination and hate speech.
Samuel Moyn suggests that the concept of human rights is intertwined with the modern sense of
citizenship, which did not emerge until the past few hundred years.
The earliest conceptualisation of human rights is credited to ideas about
natural rights emanating from
natural law. In particular, the issue of universal rights was introduced by the examination of extending rights to indigenous peoples by Spanish clerics, such as
Francisco de Vitoria and
Bartolomé de Las Casas. In the
Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, who maintained an Aristotelian view of humanity as divided into classes of different worth, argued with Las Casas, who argued in favour of equal rights to freedom from slavery for all humans regardless of race or religion.
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.
 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
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.
In the 19th century, human rights became a central concern over the issue of
 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,
 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,
 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
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
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. Analyst Belinda Cooper argued that human rights organisations flourished in the 1990s, possibly as a result of the dissolution of the
eastern Cold War blocs.
 Ludwig Hoffmann argues that human rights became more widely emphasised in the latter half of the twentieth century because it "provided a language for political claim making and counter-claims, liberal-democratic, but also socialist and post colonialist.
- Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam
The CDHR was signed by member states of the OIC in 1990 at the 19th Conference of Foreign Ministers held in Cairo, Egypt. It was seen as the answer to the UDHR. In fact, the CDHR was "patterned after the UN-sponsored UDHR of 1948".
 The object of the CDHR was to "serve as a guide for member states on human rights issues. CDHR translated the Qur'anic teachings as follows: "All men are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities, without any discrimination on the basis of race, colour, language, belief, sex, religion, political affiliation, social status or other considerations. True religion is the guarantee for enhancing such dignity along the path to human integrity.
 On top of references to the Qur'an, the CDHR also referenced prophetic teachings and Islamic legal tradition.