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HUMAN RIGHTS The nguyen That due a person or claim a person has by virtue of being a human being. The term human rights is relatively recent. It was first used by U. S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a 1941 message to the United States' Congress in which he propounded four freedoms- - -freedoms of speech and religion, and freedoms from want and fear.
The idea of human rights is an elaboration of what used to be called natural rights or the rights of man. These are a particularly Western idea that grew out of the medieval concern for the rights of specific groups, such as lords, barons, churchmen, kings, guilds, or towns. With the Enlightenment, philosophers began to consider whether people in general had any rights. John Locke in particular argued in his influential second Treatise of Government (1690) that all people have a natural right to freedom, equality, and property.
He directly influenced the American Declaration of Independence, which almost a century later (1776) declared that "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. " During the French Revolution the French National Assembly approved the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (1789), which proclaimed that the goal of political association is the preservation of the natural and inalienable rights of man, of liberty, private property, personal security, and resistance to oppression. Such rights were further defined in the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States, among them the freedom of speech, religion, and assembly. These and other rights have been included in many other constitutions and now are part of an International Bill of Rights. This comprises the 1945 United Nations Charter (Articles 1 and 55), the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the UN General Assembly, and the two international covenants passed by the General Assembly in 1966, one on Civil and Political Rights (CPR) and the other on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ESCR). There is now a UN Human Rights Commission that can investigate alleged violations of human rights and also receive and consider individual complaints, a momentous advance for human rights in the state-centered international system.
And there is the Helsinki process that began with the Helsinki Accord of 1975, with its Basket Three on human rights and periodic meetings to assess the progress of human rights among the signatories. In addition, human rights have been pursued in several regions. To mention just some of this activity, the Council of Europe adopted the European Convention on Human Rights and Europe now has the European Court of Human Rights and the European Commission on Human Rights. The Organization of American States also adopted the American Declaration on Human Rights, and further the American states have created the Inter-American Convention and Court on Human Rights. And due to the Organization for African Unity there is now the African Charter of Human and People's Rights. Moreover, there have been numerous formal conferences among states and interested international government organizations on human rights, such as the World Conference on Human Rights among 183 nations in Vienna during June 1993.
Human rights have also been the concern of numerous private organizations that have sought to further define and extend human rights (such as to a clean environment), observe their implementation among governments, publicize violations by governments (as of the right against torture and summary execution), or pressure governments to cease their violations. Some of the many such organizations include the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Anti-Slavery Society, Amnesty International, the International League for Human Rights, and the International Commission of Jurists. In sum, human rights now are very much a part of international relations and law. They define fundamental moral canons for criticizing international and national conditions and behavior. As such they are imbedded in the practice of nations and treaty prescriptions. Many states now even include human rights monitors or representatives within their foreign ministries.
For example, the United States Department of State has a Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs run by an assistant secretary. States have even generally agreed to moderate their warfare to preserve certain human rights, as precisely defined in the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their 1977 Additional Protocols. And under international law there is now a fundamental core of human rights, for which there is universal jurisdiction, that no state can violate without risking mandated sanctions by the UN Security Council. Such is piracy, slavery, and genocide, for example. Along with all this activity on human rights the number of such rights has multiplied in the last half-century. There are at least forty human rights listed in the basic UDHR, CPR, and ESCR international documents on human rights, and even these have been further extended, as for the right to development that was declared "an inalienable human right" by the UN General Assembly in 1982.
All these rights may be divided into those that concern individuals and those regarding collectivities. The former, which comprise the vast majority of rights, may be further divided into those rights of the individual against the state, usually the traditional Western rights, and those rights that make claims on the state. We can list an internationally recognized core of rights against the state from those listed in the UDHR. These include the rights to life, liberty, security of the person, recognition as a person before the law, equal protection of the law, remedy for violation of rights, fair and public trial, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty if charged with a penal offense, leave any country and return, seek asylum from persecution, nationality, marriage, property, the secret ballot and periodic elections, freely chosen representatives, form and join trade unions, equal access to public service, and participation in cultural life; to freedom of movement and residence, thought, conscience and religion, opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association, and of parents to choose their children's education; and to freedom from slavery or servitude, torture, degrading or inhuman treatment or punishment, arbitrary arrest or detention or exile, arbitrary interference with privacy or family or home or correspondence, deprivation of nationality, arbitrary deprivation of property, and being compelled to join an association. Those that are claims on the state mainly comprise the right to social security; work and free choice of employment; just and favorable conditions of work; protection against unemployment; equal pay for equal work; just and favorable remuneration (and that is supplemented if necessary); rest and leisure including periodic holidays with pay; adequate standard of living; special care and assistance for motherhood and childhood; education (including free education in elementary and fundamental stages); protection of the family, protection of one's scientific, literary or artistic production; protection from attacks on one's honor or reputation; and the assurance of an individual and their family an existence worthy of human dignity. In addition there are collective rights not mentioned in the UDHR that include the right to economic development and the right to self-determination of a people.
Nor does it explicitly include those rights whose violation we call war-crimes or crimes against humanity. Obviously the list of internationalized human rights has gone far beyond the American Bill of Rights and one may well ask what defines and justifies a human right. Philosophers have argued much about this question, especially in terms of natural rights. In its original meaning, a natural right was one that commended itself to reason. It was one that reasonable people for good reasons could agree on as a right of all people. For example, the right to life and equal freedom were two of the original natural rights that presumably fit this definition.
But reasonable people often disagree on fundamentals and there consequently has been various attempts to find less apparently subjective grounds for natural or human rights. Such is the appeal to utility- - -people have certain rights as they assure the happiness of the greatest number. This in fact may be the underlying justification for the acceptance of many of the rights listed above. Another justification is that there is one core natural right that is sel...
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