Human rights

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Human rights are those rights that all people have (or should have, or are believed to have) as humans.

Unfortunately, no consensus can be reached as to what constitutes human rights. Many non-Western countries have said that trying to impose Western concepts of human rights (such as freedom of religion or political rights) is an act of colonialism. Instead, many of them say that Western ideology does not give enough thought to rights such as clothing, stability, and work.

While almost every country in the world has signed onto the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, many of them do not live up to it.

To a large extent, human rights have become a political football in the field of international relations. In particular, the United States and China trade accusations of human rights abuses on a yearly basis.[1][2]

Contents

[edit] Origins

The concept of human rights emerged from Enlightenment-era thinkers' (and revolutionaries) ideas about "natural rights" and the "rights of man." This was mainly a reaction to absolutist monarchism, the divine right of kings, and religious oppression. The inviolability of the human body became a central concept in human rights, especially after Voltaire's campaign to overturn the verdict against Jean Calas, the French Calvinist framed for murder.[3][4]

[edit] The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Given that different cultures give differing weights to what is or is not a human right the United Nations set forth to reach consensus and, in 1948 in the aftermath of World War II proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Of the 56 participating countries there were no dissenters although there were eight abstentions.

There are 30 'Articles'[5] although not each of these directly equates to a right. In brief - and heavily paraphrased - the rights are:

  1. The right to equality and dignity[6]
  2. The right to equality before the law[7]
  3. The right to life, liberty and security of person[8]
  4. No one should be held in slavery[9]
  5. No one shall be tortured[10]
  6. The law should accept that you are a person[11]
  7. Equal protection before the law[12]
  8. The right to effective remedy when rights are violated[13]
  9. Protection against arbitrary arrest, imprisonment or exile[14]
  10. The right to equality before the law and to an impartial hearing[15]
  11. The right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty[16]
  12. The right to privacy and to protection against defamation[17]
  13. Freedom of movement[18]
  14. The right of asylum[19]
  15. The right to nationality[20]
  16. The right to marry, protection against forced marriage[21]
  17. The right to own property, individually or jointly[22]
  18. Freedom of religion[23]
  19. Freedom of opinion and expression[24]
  20. The right to peaceful assembly[25]
  21. The right to participate in democratic government[26]
  22. The right to a reasonable standard of living and social participation[27]
  23. The right to intellectual property[28]
  24. The right to live in an ordered society[29]

[edit] Objections to the UDHR

Naturally this attempt to reach consensus has its critics. In brief these can be summed up as

  • Objections to freedom of religion. This is counter to some religious beliefs - "thou shall not suffer a witch to live" for example
  • Objections to gender equality - again often on religious grounds
  • Objections by libertarians about the social contract - to quote "Enforcement of one person's economic, social, or cultural rights necessarily involves forcing others to relinquish their property, or to use it in a way prescribed by the enforcers."[30]
  • The lack of the inclusion of the right to refuse to kill - a stance taken by Amnesty International
  • Unschoolers object to the right to an education saying that it impinges on their right to bring up their children as they see fit
  • Objections based on national sovereignty. (Translation: "United Nations, you are not the boss of us!")

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

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