Senior Library Books
History of Human Rights
theblackstarorder. (2009, December 6). Human Rights [video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/nCQWwkERit4
What are human rights?
The general acceptance of human rights led to a widespread agreement on certain fundamental assumptions about them: (1) If a right is affirmed as a human right rather than a civil right, it is understood to be universal, something that applies to all human beings everywhere. (2) Rights are understood to represent individual and group demands for the sharing of political and economic power. (3) It is agreed that human rights are not always absolute: they may be limited or restrained for the sake of the common good or to secure the rights of others. (4) Human rights is not an umbrella term to cover all personal desires. (5) The concept of rights often implies related obligations. Thomas Jefferson noted that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Therefore, if individuals would maintain their freedom, their duty is to guard against political, religious, and social activities that may restrict their rights and the rights of others.
Acceptance of fundamental assumptions has not lessened disagreement on which rights can be classified as human rights. Historically the debate has been carried on about three categories: individual, social, and collective. Individual rights refers to the basic rights to life and liberty mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. Social rights broadens this concept to include economic, social, and cultural rights. Collective, or solidarity, rights has come into prominence since the end of World War II, the collapse of old colonial empires, and the emergence of many new nation-states. These particular forms of rights are best described by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
These rights were best described by the 17th- and 18th-century political theorists—such men as John Locke in England, Montesquieu in France, and Jefferson and others in the United States. They are the rights to life, liberty, privacy, the security of the individual, freedom of speech and press, freedom of worship, the right to own property, freedom from slavery, freedom from torture and unusual punishment, and similar rights as spelled out in the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. Basic to individual rights is the concept of government as a shield against encroachment upon the person. Little is demanded from government but the right to be left alone. Government is not asked for anything except vigilance in safeguarding the rights of its citizens.
This concept of rights grew out of the socialist and Communist criticisms of capitalism and its perceived economic injustices: low wages, long working hours, unsafe working conditions, and child labour, among others. Social rights make demands on government for such things as quality education, jobs, adequate medical care, social-insurance programmes, housing, and other benefits. Basically they call for a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and the family.
The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Dec. 10, 1948. It urged the right to political, economic, social, and cultural self-determination; the right to peace; the right to live in a healthful and balanced environment; and the right to share in the Earth’s resources. It also pledged the rights of life, liberty, and security of person—the basic human rights.
- Human rights. (2015). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved June 5, 2015, from http://school.eb.com.au.db.plcscotch.wa.edu.au/levels/middle/article/274983#202287.toc