Human rights are a set of principles that govern how we live and treat each other. They are based on the idea that every human being has a natural right to the protection of their own personal dignity, which should be defended even against the threat of harm.
These rights are a basic part of our moral and legal system. Everyone has a moral duty not to violate another person’s rights and governments have a legal obligation to respect and protect human rights.
People around the world have made a lot of progress in the protection of human rights, even though it can sometimes seem like a drop in the ocean. Consider the abolition of slavery, the vote for women, the elimination of the death penalty, the freeing of prisoners of conscience as a result of international pressure, the collapse of apartheid regimes and the cases that have been tried before the European Court of Human Rights.
It is important to note that these rights are inalienable, indivisible and interdependent. Each right contributes to the fulfilment of a person’s human dignity through the satisfaction of a range of developmental, physical, psychological and spiritual needs.
This is a major reason why human rights are so important. They give us a sense of what is morally acceptable, and help guide us in the choices we make.
If we take these values seriously, we will be better able to protect ourselves and others from oppression, violence, discrimination and other abuses of power. We will have the confidence that we can go to court, or speak out in a public forum, when we think our rights have been violated.
These rights should be available to all individuals, without exception. It is therefore crucial to have the systems in place that will make it easy for individuals to exercise their rights, such as a national human rights institution or a non-governmental organization.
In addition to the main body of human rights legislation, there are a number of international treaties that focus on specific aspects of human rights. For example, there are specialized treaties that deal with the rights of women and minorities, as well as the human rights of indigenous peoples.
There are also a number of international mechanisms that have been established to promote and enforce the implementation of human rights. These include the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which is a cooperative, state-driven process that reviews the human rights records of 193 UN member states once every four years.
This review is an important way to ensure that all member states are meeting their obligations to respect, uphold and implement human rights. It is also a valuable tool for identifying and addressing violations of human rights in countries that are not as committed to the promotion of rights as other nations.
The fundamental issue is that if these rights are not available to all, we are missing out on the benefits they can bring. This is why we need to continue working hard to defend the rights of all individuals and to raise awareness of their importance.