The Big Picture

Government of Liberia Bureau of Immigration officials register asylum-seekers from Côte d’Ivoire in the town of Loguatuo, in Nimba County. © UNICEF/NYHQ2010-2753/Bill Diggs


What are human rights? 

Human rights are fundamental rights and freedoms to which every human being is entitled. These rights include individual, political, civil, spiritual, social, economic and cultural rights that help us to develop to our fullest potential.

Human rights are universal – they apply to all people, everywhere. You do not have human rights because of your citizenship, race, sex, language, or religion, but because you are a human being. They are also indivisible – no rights are more important than others. You cannot be granted only some rights, while others are denied.

How did rights come about? 

The concept of human rights has been around for a long time, and we can trace ideas about universal human rights back to ancient cultures, the world’s major religions, and many philosophers. But it was not until 1948 and the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that we got an internationally recognized definition of these rights.

In 1945, after the Second World War, world leaders gathered in San Francisco with the goal of creating a global organization that would work for peace and promote cooperation between countries. There, the United Nations was founded with a Charter (a guiding document) that committed all member states to promote "universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion."

However, many people felt that a better definition of human rights was needed – something that would make it clear for to governments, the United Nations and all people what having human rights actually are. In 1946, the United Nations established a committee to look into this, and after two years of drafting and negotiating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted.

What rights do people have? 

The Declaration contains a preamble and 30 articles that spell out the rights of all people. They cover: 
  • Individual rights – you have the right to life and liberty, to be free from slavery and torture, and equality before the law. 
  • Civil and political rights – you have the right to a nationality, to freedom of movement, to form a family and to own property. 
  • Spiritual and public rights – you have the right to freedom of thought and religion, to freedom of opinion and expression, and to access public services. 
  • Economic, social and cultural rights – you have to the right to an adequate standard of living, to get an education, to work and to participate in cultural activities. 

The Declaration in itself is not a legally binding document, but it has become what is known as “customary international law”. That is, when enough states begin to behave as though something is law, it becomes law "by use." The Declaration is also the foundation for a number of human rights treaties that have been adopted since 1948, for example the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

You can read more about the Declaration and other human rights treaties on the website of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/

CRC@25

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), is a treaty ratified by a almost a...

read more

Rehabilitation and Reintegration of children in Post Conflict Society

The changing nature of armed conflict has been characterized by the use of children as soldiers, and the reintegration of these children back into society has become a matter of primary concern for post-conflict countries seeking to achieve sustainable peace and security. While measures of r...

read more


Feminisms

Deviating from the prompt of '2 Lives 2 Miles Apart', this post examines two generalized views of...

read more

Is it controversial? - LGTB rights

"Dude that's so gay" When did phrases like this become an insult? Have you ever been called "faggo...

read more


When is it your right to have access to contraceptives? 18 or when you...

The debate about when adolescents should have access to contraceptives has been discussed for years and we have created a strategy that is full of flaws. Currently it is believed that a person at the age of 14 can be sexually active but they can only gain access to contraceptives at the...

read more

“Who will care for us?” and more in the news this week

The first work week of September has been enriching. I got to know about a number of eye-opening p...

read more


#TurnThePageOnHateSpeech

#NoHateSpeech ''The world is odd.'' A mystery in the eyes of those who are short sighted... (* well,...

read more

The AIDS crisis,the ''Dallas Buyers Club'' and ''the Normal Heart(s)''...

Let's talk about AIDS. Who has not heard about it? Unfortunately, this pandemic has been a par...

read more


Young People Take Action! - The Road to Rights

Over the years, Sri Lankans have seen several youth movements which support the ongoing developmen...

read more

HOW TO PREVENT FUTURE WARS

War is evil. I Hate War! You Hate War! So many wars are fought everyday resulting in after effects...

read more


show more