"Human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright of all human beings, are inalienable and are guaranteed by law. Their protection and promotion is the first responsibility of government. Respect of them is an essential safeguard against an over-mighty State. Their observation and full exercise are the foundation of freedom, justice and peace..."
- Charter of Paris for a New Europe-CSCE Summit, Paris, November 21, 1990
Human rights are rights possessed by people simply as, and because they are, human beings.
The belief that everyone, by virtue of her or his humanity, is entitled to certain human rights is fairly new. Its roots, however, lie in earlier tradition and documents of many cultures; it took the catalyst of World War II to propel human rights onto the global stage and into the global conscience.
Throughout much of history, people acquired rights and responsibilities through their membership in a group – a family, indigenous nation, religion, class, community, or state. Most societies have had traditions similar to the "golden rule" of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The Hindu Vedas, the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, the Bible, the Quran (Koran), and the Analects of Confucius are five of the oldest written sources which address questions of people’s duties, rights, and responsibilities. In addition, the Inca and Aztec codes of conduct and justice and an Iroquois Constitution were Native American sources that existed well before the 18th century. In fact, all societies, whether in oral or written tradition, have had systems of propriety and justice as well as ways of tending to the health and welfare of their members.
The idea of 'human rights' is not universal - it is essentially the product of 17th and 18th century European thought. Even the idea of 'rights' does not necessarily exist in every society or advanced
civilization. Rights are not the same thing as standards of behavior punishable or required by rules, which can be fundamentally unfair to individuals, or used to oppress minority interests.
The United Nations Organization was created as a result of an international attempt to ensure world peace after the devastation of World War II. On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, the principles of non-discrimination, civil, political, social, cultural, and economic rights.
The primary purpose of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was to reflect various cultural traditions and to make our world a more just and equitable place in which to live. Fifty-eight Member States representing a range of ideologies, religious, cultural, political and economic systems, voted 1400 times on almost every word and every clause of the text. The UN General Assembly unanimously (with eight abstentions) adopted the Declaration. Since then, December 10th is celebrated worldwide as Human Rights Day
(Source: www.un.org ).
Human rights include women's rights,
children's rights and the rights of minorities. Some aspects of the initial UN Charter were revised and changed over time. However, its basic concept remained the same - to protect people's rights for life, liberty and justice. The importance of international human rights should be paramount and should continue to be implemented in developing and third-world countries. As a result, our world will become a safer place.