What are human rights? Concept, Origin and List of Rights

What are human rights?

We explain what human rights are and where they come from. In addition, its importance and a list of these rights.

Human rights are enshrined in the laws of all nations.

When we speak of human rights or the fundamental rights of the human being, we are referring to the set of inherent rights, proper to the human condition. In other words, to the rights with which everyone is born, regardless of race, nationality, social class, religion, gender or any other possible distinction.

Human rights are enshrined in the laws of all nations and international treaties; they are indivisible, interdependent, inalienable and universal. This means that they must be fulfilled in their entirety (and not partially), that they must always be fulfilled, that they cannot be taken from anyone under any circumstances and that they apply to all human beings without distinction. These rights, moreover, would be above any type of legal system.

In fact, there are global international institutions that ensure the preservation of human rights and can encourage sanctions for countries where they are not given due attention. The violation of human rights is considered a non-prescriptive crime that must be prosecuted worldwide.

However, the theory of human rights is not always fully complied with, and in today’s complex political world many conjunctures impede it. Cultural resistance, political expediency or the loss of faith in the values behind these rights are some of those reasons.

Today, every State in the world has signed at least one of the many universal human rights treaties, and 80 per cent of countries have signed about four of them. If this trend increases, it could mean a more egalitarian and fairer future for future human generations.

Origin of human rights

More recent treaties address specific issues such as children’s rights.

Human rights were first proclaimed during the French Revolution of 1789, under the title “Declaration of the Rights of Man in Society”, although in reality they were the first firm step in a long cultural process rooted in the different conceptions of “human dignity” rooted in Western and Eastern cultures.

The American Revolution subsequently followed the “freedom, equality, fraternity” guidelines of the French revolutionaries in favor of founding a more egalitarian nation, although black slavery remained a pending item on the list.

The birth of the United Nations Organization (UN) at the end of the Second World War gave way to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), an attempt to lay the foundations of a world social order.

Subsequently, various treaties on the subject were adopted, such as the European Convention on Human Rights (1950), the International Covenants on Human Rights (1966) and the American Convention on Human Rights (1969). More recent treaties address specific issues such as the rights of the child and adolescent, or of persons with disabilities.

  1. List of human rights

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

The rights enshrined in the Declaration of Human Rights are thirty. Some of the main ones are:

  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Gifted as they are with reason and conscience, they must behave fraternally towards one another.
  • Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
  • No one shall be held in slavery or servitude. Slavery and the slave trade are prohibited in all their forms.
  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, punishment or humiliation.
  • All human beings have the right to recognition of their legal personality wherever they are.
  • All human beings are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law, without distinction of any kind.
  • All human beings have the right to equal protection against any form of discrimination that contravenes the provisions of this Declaration and against any provocation to such discrimination.
  • Everyone has the right to the protection of the competent national courts and the right to legal protection against acts violating the fundamental rights recognized in the Constitution or in law.
  • No human being shall be arbitrarily detained, imprisoned or exiled.
  • Everyone has the right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations or for the examination of any criminal charge against him.
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