Human rights are the fundamental freedoms and entitlements that everyone is born with – simply because they are human. They cannot be negotiated, earned or bought. They are universal, indivisible and interdependent. They are inherent in the dignity of every person and are guaranteed by the international treaties that govern human rights. Human rights are not privileges that can be taken away at someone else’s whim, but rather they are the basic minimum requirements for living a fulfilling life and protecting us against those who would harm or oppress others.
While much progress has been made in advancing human rights, there remains a great deal of work to be done, particularly in addressing the human rights concerns of people living in conflict zones. Many of these people have been traumatized by the violent and repressive behavior of their governments or by the atrocities committed by their warring neighbors, and they need help healing psychological wounds. In addition, the institutions that are charged with observing human rights must be rebuilt from their often weakened or compromised state and must be trusted to function again.
For all these reasons, a strong human rights community is vital to the success of peacebuilding. Amongst the most important of these are international organizations, such as Amnesty International, which gathers and analyzes data on violations and provides a forum for dialogue between those who would uphold the human rights standards of their respective countries and those who would violate them.
Amnesty’s global network of activists, supporters and staff is committed to using our collective power in order to achieve justice for all. Our work to protect the human rights of individuals and communities is informed by our long history of research and our deep concern for the many people around the world whose lives have been destroyed by wars, dictatorships and other human rights abuses.
Human Rights Watch was founded in 1978 as a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and promoting the universal values embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Our global community of activists is committed to bringing an end to the abuses that undermine human dignity and foster fear and hatred between people, as well as fostering reconciliation and hope for the future.
The word “human rights” refers to a set of principles that all people are entitled to, simply because they are human. These rights are enforceable by the principle of morality, and most people, if shown that their actions violate another’s personal dignity, will try to refrain from such conduct. They are also enforceable by law, in most countries of the world, through legislation that obliges their government to respect basic human rights.
In fact, the majority of human rights abuses are committed by governments against their own people. This is why the human rights movement relies so heavily on international pressure, and on the fact that most governments are aware that, if they wish to be accepted as responsible members of the global community, they must respect human rights.