What are human rights
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What Human Rights Are

Humans are born with rights. While many are set out in the constitutions of their countries, some are inherent to the human being such as the rights to life, freedom, and equality. This seems like a straightforward concept, but unfortunately, not every person’s rights are respected. That’s why the United Nations has compiled a set of universal human rights. All countries should respect these and protect them. To enforce this, there are a number of organizations that act as watchdogs and promote human rights. So, what are human rights?

What are human rights exactly?

We hear about human rights all the time. But what are they? First of all, they are inherent rights of every human being. When it comes to human rights, there is no distinction in race, origin, gender, age, etc. Each and every person has these rights as soon as he or she is born.

However, we all know that this doesn’t always happen. While governments have an obligation to respect these rights, not all do. As such, under international law, human rights systems are a way to protect people and their rights. Particularly, this applies to ensure that governments provide human rights to their citizens.

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights marks the first framework for the legal definition of human rights. It defines 30 basic human rights. Some of the most common ones are the rights to equality, freedom from discrimination, nationality, education, and freedom from slavery, among others.

With a number of revisions since 1948, it continues to be the core document for understanding and implementing human rights. The declaration is available in 501 languages so that as many people as possible can understand it.

Debates around human rights issues

In spite of the legislation, we know that many human rights are violated, and unfortunately, international law cannot always protect the victims. This is because international law is not sovereign. Each country’s government has sovereignty over its land. This means that no one can entirely dictate legislation within its borders.

As such, international human rights are a framework rather than a legal obligation. Instead, countries follow their own set of laws through their constitutions or other legal documents. Many countries base these on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, others continue to commit human rights abuses.

Organizations protecting human rights

In order to prevent these violations, there are a number of organizations that work to protect and promote human rights. These 4 are some of the biggest ones, working almost everywhere in the world.

  • Human Rights Watch (HRW): This organization tracks human rights around the world. HRW conducts research and produces a report on human rights issues in about 90 countries. Through this, they encourage media coverage and global awareness. This leads to their ability to influence policy-makers and officials and helps them promote justice and policy changes for human rights protection.
  • Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR): As part of the Organization of American States, the IACHR works to address human rights violations. IACHR receives and reviews legally based human rights cases from the Americas. Once reviewed, they make recommendations to legal systems. Their main objective is to ensure justice for people whose rights were violated by governments. Additionally, IACHR publishes reports and research related to human rights protection.
  • United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR): The United Nations has a number of bodies that work to protect human rights. The OHCHR is one of the most important ones. The organization provides assistance to governments in protecting human rights. In addition to this, the OHCHR advocates for human rights protection. They participate in global forums, speak out against human rights violations, and publish pertinent research on the subject.
  • Amnesty International: Amnesty International has one main goal – to protect human rights. They implement activist campaigns, petitions, and advocacy to do so. Their main focus areas are the freedom of speech and freedom from torture. In addition, they address human rights issues in armed conflicts and control, corporate responsibility and ethics, discrimination, freedom of expression, and others.

Everything You Need to Know about Human Rights

Humanitarians continuously work towards the protection and promotion of human rights. Even if their main mission is different, human rights always figure in the humanitarian approach. For example, humanitarians save lives because they believe in the individual’s right to life. Here you can take a closer look at the different aspects of human rights, their characteristics, history, and more.

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