Human Rights: Definition, Meaning And Details

Human Rights, Introduction:

Armours could be linked to Human Rights because they protect,  they are like rules, they restrict human’s behaviour and sense of judgement, and human rights could be appealed to. They are abstract – like emotions; and like emotions, they belong to everyone and they exist no matter what happens.
They are like nature because they can be violated; and like the spirit because they cannot be destroyed. Like time, they treat us all in the same way – rich and poor, old and young, white and black, tall and short. They offer us respect, and they charge us to treat others with respect. Like goodness, truth and justice, we may sometimes disagree about their definition, but we recognise them when we see them. That’s Human Rights, its simply for all.

 

A Brief History About The Human Rights:

Human Rights may be traced to after it’s Universal Declaration by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948, the concept of Human Rights assumed a significance of its own though earlier than the date afore mentioned, International Labour Organisation in 1920 also initiated the Conventions on the rights of workers to form unions and organisations, abolition of forced labour and right to collective bargaining.

The UN Charter in 1945 affirmed faith in the fundamental human rights and appointed a Commission on Human Rights under Mrs. E. Roosevelt. This declaration was the outcome of the latter’s deliberations A.A. Said aptly remarked “The concept of Human Rights may be difficult to define but impossible to ignore”. The Human Rights are concerned with the dignity of the individual—the level of self esteem that secures personal identity and promotes human community.

The human rights as proclaimed by the UN Assembly find their origin in the concept of natural rights as espoused by political philosophers like Locke and Paine. Vincent holds “Human rights are the rights that everyone has and everyone equally by virtue of their very humanity. They are grounded in our appeal to human nature “.

 

Meaning Or Definition Of Human Rights:

What is a right? A right is a claim that we are justified in making. I have a right to the goods in my shopping basket if I have paid for them. Citizens have a right to elect a president, if the constitution of their country guarantees it, and a child has a right to be taken to the zoo, if her parents have promised that they will take her. These are all things that people can be entitled to expect, given the promises or guarantees that have been undertaken by another party.
Human rights, however, are super claims with a difference. They are not dependent on promises or guarantees by another party. Someone’s right to life is not dependent on someone else promising not to kill him or her: their life may be, but their right to life is not. Their right to life is dependent on only one thing: that they are human.

An acceptance of human rights means accepting that everyone is entitled to make these claims: I have these rights, no matter what you say or do, because I am a human being, just like you. Human rights are inherent to all human beings as a birthright. Why should that claim not need any particular behaviour to back it up? Why shouldn’t we require human beings to deserve their rights?
A human rights claim is ultimately a moral claim, and rests on moral values. What my right to life really means is that no-one ought to take my life away from me; it would be wrong to do so. Put like that, the claim doesn’t need backing up. Every reader is probably in agreement with it because we all recognise, in our own cases, that there are certain aspects of our life, our being, that ought to be inviolable and that no one else ought to be able to infringe, because they are essential to our being, who we are and what we are; they are essential to our humanity and our human dignity. Without human rights we cannot achieve our full potential. Human rights simply extend this understanding on an individual level to every human being on the planet. If I can make these claims, then so can everyone else as well.

Human Rights Key Value:

Two of the key values that lie at the core of the idea of human rights are human dignity and equality. Human rights can be understood as defining those basic standards which are necessary for a life of dignity; and their universality is derived from the fact that in this respect, at least, all humans are equal. We should not, and cannot, discriminate between them.
These two beliefs, or values, are really all that is required to subscribe to the idea of human rights, and these beliefs are hardly controversial. That is why human rights receive support from every culture in the world, every civilised government and every major religion. It is recognised almost universally that state power cannot be unlimited or arbitrary; it needs to be limited at least to the extent that all individuals within its jurisdiction can live with certain minimum requirements for human dignity.

Many other values can be derived from these two fundamental ones and can help to define more precisely how in practice people and societies should co-exist. For example:
Freedom: because the human will is an important part of human dignity. To be forced to do something against our will demeans the human spirit.
Respect for others: because a lack of respect for someone fails to appreciate their individuality and essential dignity.
Non-discrimination: because equality in human dignity means we should not judge people’s rights and opportunities on the basis of their characteristics.
Tolerance: because intolerance indicates a lack of respect for difference; and equality does not signify uniformity.
Justice: because people equal in their humanity deserve fair treatment
Responsibility: because respecting the rights of others entails responsibility for one’s actions and exerting effort for the realisation of the rights of one and all.

 

Characteristics Of Human Rights:

Human rights are moral claims, and therefore they are grounded in morality, not just law. They have a very high priority compared to other moral or non-moral claims, such as claims based on honor, disgust, utility etc.

1. They require mandatory (as opposed to discretionary) compliance and are therefore more than mere aspirations – they are necessary for the protection and realization of certain fundamental, basic and universal human values and interests.

2. They are instrumental principles in the sense that we don’t want them for their own sake; they are means for the creation of better life quality and not just goals in themselves.

3. They are universal: all human beings have certain rights, for no other reason than their humanity and the values attached to humanity; this means that human rights precede and trump considerations of national sovereignty and that national sovereignty therefore does not provide a means to escape human rights obligations.

4. They are pre-political: they are a moral order that has a legitimacy and existence preceding contingent social, legal, political, cultural and historical conditions and that can be used to assess and question those conditions

5. They are independent from legal/social/cultural/religious recognition: human beings have human rights even if the laws and customs of their country/group do not recognize or perhaps even violate these rights – although people’s rights are obviously much more secure when they are translated into law and culture.

6. They are unconditional: people have rights without conditions; respect for rights is not conditional upon fulfillment of duties, status, legal recognition of rights or persons etc.

7. They are inalienable: since rights are owned by human beings because of their humanity, these rights aren’t given and hence can’t be taken away; people still have rights when those rights are violated

8. They are not forfeitable: people can’t give their rights away for the same reason that these rights can’t be taken away; however, people can decide that they don’t want their rights enforced.

9. They are equal rights: rights are equal in two meanings of the word; they are equal between people (because all people are equally human) and they are equal to other human rights (there are no “basic” and “less urgent/important” human rights)

10. They are interdependent: different rights need each other, violations of one right most likely lead to violations of other rights (which is one reason why there can’t be a core of “basic” rights).

11. They are limited: rights have to be balanced against each other because respect for one right can imply a violation of another right; balancing means imposing limitations on some rights for the benefit of other rights (or of the rights of others); the fact that there are no basic rights makes this balancing more difficult but not impossible. Conflicting rights then have to be balanced by taking into account the nature of the underlying values, or the way in which the two conflicting rights realize the values they are supposed to uphold.

12. They are not politically neutral: not all forms of government can equally respect human rights; there’s a close link between human rights and democracy.

13. They are multidimensional: human rights are not just a matter between citizens and the state; they are addressed at everyone and impose duties on everyone. Corporations and other organizations also have to be mindful of their operations’  human rights implications. This means that human rights also function in a trans-national and trans-generational dimension.

14. They are simultaneously negative (free from x) and positive (free to do x): they always and everywhere require both self-restraint and tolerance as well as active intervention,  according to the circumstances.

15. The human rights debate is a discourse where politics, ethics, religion, history, and philosophy intersect. Attacks against the universality of the claims are themselves attempts to undercut these rights; the full realization of these ideas across all current political conflicts still remains an elusive goal.

Types Of Human Rights:

The Human Rights may be grouped under five categories viz. Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural.

 Civil Rights:

The Civil Rights as enumerated in the Human Rights are:

(i) All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. All are equal before the law.

(ii) Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security to persons.

(iii) None is to be held in slavery or servitude. Hence Slave Trade in all its forms is to be prohibited.

(iv) No one is to be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

(v) Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Political Rights:

The following are the political rights:

(i) Every one possesses the right to take part in the Government of his country, directly or indirectly through freely chosen representatives.

(ii) Everyone has access to public services in the country.

(iii) The ‘will of the people’ is the basis of authority of government. This ‘will’ is to be expressed through periodical elections to be held on the basis of Universal and equal suffrage. The election shall be held by secret ballot.

(iv) Everyone is entitled to right to a nationality. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of it.

Economic Rights:

(a) Economic rights on the basis of the healthful living:

The following economic rights have been included in the Charter on the Human Rights:

(i) Everyone possesses the right to own property.

(ii) Everyone has the right to social security. Social security system impels a government to pay monthly allowance to the needy, the distressed, the disabled and the old who are devoid of any income or earn a very meagre income not enough for subsistence.

(iii) Everyone is to be assured right to work. In erstwhile Soviet Union and Communist China work is guaranteed to all able bodied persons. The erstwhile Soviet Union adopted, a famous maxim—”He who does not work neither shall he eat”. The right includes right to rest and leisure.

(iv) Everyone is to get equal pay for equal work. Discrimination on the basis of sex is not desirable. In India, women labour and child labour are invariably engaged on comparatively less remuneration in the fields or factories which is a violation of human rights and law does not permit it.

Social Rights:

The Social Rights enumerated in the Declaration are as follows:

(i) Men and Women of adult age have the right to marry and set up a family. Marriage is to be arranged with the full consent of the would be spouses.

(ii) The family is the natural and fundamental units of society. It is entitled to full protection both by the state and the society.

(iii) Everyone has the right to Education. Education is to be made free at the elementary stage. In case of India, Primary Education up to the age of 14 has been made free and compulsory now, after the passage of Right to Education through an amendment in the Constitution. Previously also the provision existed in the Directive Principles.

Cultural Rights:

Everybody possesses the right to participation in the cultural life of the community. This enables everyone to enjoy the various arts and take part in the scientific advancement and its benefits.

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