What Are Human Rights?

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Human rights are the standards that governments must uphold to protect the lives, freedoms and dignity of all people. These rights are enshrined in a variety of legal documents, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international treaties.

The UDHR, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, was a major step forward for advancing the protection of these rights. It set a new standard for human rights and provided the foundation from which many legally binding treaties have been drafted.

These rights are regarded as inalienable and therefore apply equally to all. They are also not discriminatory or dependent on race, religion or other defining characteristics of an individual.

There are a number of different approaches to the definition and origins of these rights. One of the oldest and most common is a natural law approach. In this view, humans are endowed with natural or divinely ordained rights by their Creator and the observance of these rights is the supreme law of the universe.

Another popular approach to the meaning of human rights is cultural relativism. This suggests that the standards and values that define certain aspects of human life are relative to specific cultures. This means that a culture may view something as a violation of human rights in one context but not in another.

Finally, some philosophers have developed political conceptions of human rights. These conceptions describe how these rights play an important practical political role in society.

This political perspective, which arose from John Rawls’s work on moral responsibility, has become more prominent in the 20th century. It explains human rights in terms of their role as a means to establish and enforce social expectations, thereby helping to shape public opinion.

The importance of human rights is reflected in the fact that many countries have signed or ratified various human rights treaties. These treaties are based on a series of articles enshrined in the UDHR and have become an essential component of the international system of legal governance.

While some of these treaties are more directly related to the rights of individuals than others, they are all a vital part of the international protection of the basic rights of all people. These include freedom of speech, the right to privacy, and the right to a fair trial.

They also relate to economic and social rights. For instance, the right to food is a vital ingredient of any well-functioning society. The right to education is critical to the development of a country’s economy and population, while the right to health is essential to the survival of all.

In addition, human rights have been recognized as an integral part of national security. In the wake of World War II, this concept became an international issue and a key concern for governments.

Despite this recognition, many human rights violations continue to take place. For example, Amnesty International has gathered evidence that China’s government has committed at least 500 cases of human rights abuse since October 2019. The Chinese regime is notorious for its use of traveling death squads, sadistic torture techniques and the murder of schoolgirls.