In many countries, fundamental human rights or international human rights are the basis for some of the most important laws. For example, when an Ombudsman looks into a complaint, he thinks about whether or not basic rights and human rights are respected.
People have become more interested in and aware of human rights in the last few decades. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was made public by the United Nations in 1948. It is now the most important document about what should be considered the benchmark for basic equality and human dignity.
In this article, we will look at various human rights types and why they are so important.
What Are Human Rights?
Human rights are rights protected by law to be enjoyed by every person, no matter what race, gender, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or other status they have.
These laws ensure that governments and people are obliged to do some things and prevent them from doing other things. For example, the rights prevent others from taking the life of an innocent fellow.
Human rights include the right to life and freedom, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of thought and speech, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone has the right to these things, without exception.
The United Nations list 30 of these rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Features Of Fundamental Human Rights
1. The rule of law
Human rights instruments set out legal rules and standards that states must follow. If they don’t, rights-holders who have been wronged can go to a court or another kind of judge to get the justice they deserve, following the rules and procedures set by the law.
Human rights can’t be broken up. No matter what kind of rights they are, civil, political, economic, social, or cultural, they are all part of a person’s dignity. As a result, they are all rights in the same way. There’s no such thing as a “small” right. There is no order to the rights of people.
All people are equal because they are humans and because each person has dignity. The human rights treaty states that everyone has the right to their human rights, regardless of inherent affiliations.
The fulfillment of one right often depends, in whole or part, on the fulfillment of other rights. For example, the right to health may depend on the right to education or information being fulfilled.
Human rights are for everyone and can’t be taken away. Everyone in the whole world has the right to them. No one can give them up on their own. They also can’t be taken away by anyone else.
Every person and every group has the right to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy civil, political, economic, social, and cultural development in an active, free, and meaningful way. This is how human rights and basic freedoms can be realized.
Types Of Human Rights
Although the UN lists about 30 human rights, these rights are classified into five major groups: civil rights, political rights, Economic rights, Social rights and cultural rights.
1. Civil rights
People often use the term “civil rights” to refer to the rights listed in the first eighteen publications of the UDHR, almost all of which are also set out in the ICCPR as legally binding treaty norms.
From this group, a second set of “physical integrity rights” has been identified. These rights have to do with the right to life, liberty, and individual safety, and they protect people from physical violence, torture, and other bad treatment.
Under civil rights, the following rights exist:
- Rights to the fundamental human rights
- Rights to life, freedom and safety
- Rights to freedom from slavery
- Rights to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman treatment
- Right to recognition as a person before the law
- Rights to equal protection against discrimination of the law
- Rights to an effective remedy by competent courts for acts against violation of human rights
- Rights to the freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention or exile
- Rights to a fair and public hearing by an impartial tribunal.
- Rights to innocence until proven guilty
- Right to freedom from subjugation to arbitrary interference on privacy.
- Rights to freedom of movement within a state, to leave one’s own country, and to return to one’s country.
- Right to asylum in another country when persecuted. This right, however, may not be granted if the purpose of asylum is contrary to set principles.
- Right to a nationality and to change nationality.
- Right to marry
- Right to ownership of property.
- Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
Also read: 10 Non-profit Immigration Organizations
2. Political rights
Articles 19–21 of the UDHR and the ICCPR discuss political rights. People can have rights in a political setting because of them. This group of rights includes the following:
- Rights to freedom of opinion and expression
- Right to freedom of peaceful association without compulsion
- Right to participate in one’s national government and equal access to public service.
- Rights to vote and be voted for.
3. Economic rights
Economic rights are rights relating to work life and the workplace. They are the rights that make it possible for people to be happy and experience prosperity. They include:
- Right to social security
- Right to work and free choice of employment.
- Right to equal pay for equal work, including just enumeration.
- Freedom to join trade unions
- Right to leisure and rest from work
4. Social rights
These are the rights that make sure people have what they need to be healthy and happy. They involve social security and family life, like housing, food, water, health care, and education. These rights include:
- Rights to a standard of living that are required for the health of oneself and family. This includes access to food, water, clothing, shelter, medical care and social services in the event of health challenges or old age.
- Rights to education.
5. Cultural rights
Cultural rights make sure that everyone and every group has access to and can take part in the culture of their choice. Cultural rights are human rights that make sure people can enjoy the culture and all of its parts in a way that respects their human dignity and doesn’t treat them unfairly.
They encompass rights to language, cultural and artistic production, participation in cultural life, cultural heritage, intellectual property rights, author’s rights, access to culture for minorities, and so on. These rights include:
- Rights to participate in cultural life, including the rights to protect their morals and materials of interest from scientific, literary or artistic production.
- Rights to the entitlement of social and international order.
- Duty to the community where free and full development of one’s personality is possible.
Positive and Negative rights
Haven looked at the types of fundamental human rights; these rights are further grouped based on the intervention of independent states in the rights of their people. Let’s take a look at what they mean.
1. Positive rights
Positive rights are mostly civil and political rights, and they are meant to keep the government from going too far into a person’s life.
They tell governments that they can’t do anything that hurts individual freedoms or political freedoms. For example, a law that made it illegal for people of a certain gender to vote in federal elections would clearly violate their civil and political rights.
2. Negative rights
Negative rights are all about the economic, social, and cultural rights of the people in a state. For example, for governments to meet their obligations, they have to ensure that people have a certain level of access to housing, food, and education.
The ICESCR requires states to work toward the full realization of these rights in a step-by-step way.
Why Are Fundamental Human Rights Important?
1. They protect the vulnerable in our society from abuse
The Holocaust and the horrors of World War II were a big reason why the Declaration of Human Rights was made.
During that time in history, people with disabilities and LGBT people, as well as Jews, were among the most vulnerable people who were targeted.
Therefore, organizations that care about human rights pay attention to the people who are most likely to be hurt by people in power instead of ignoring them.
2. They ensure that people can get their basic needs
Everyone needs medication, food and water, clothes, a place to live, and a place to sleep. By making these part of a person’s basic human rights, everyone has a certain level of dignity as a starting point.
3. They encourage freedom of expression
This includes ideas and ways of expressing yourself that not everyone will agree with or like, but no one should ever feel like their government is going to hurt them because of what they think.
It works both ways and protects individuals who want to debate certain ideas in their society.
4. It protects the environment
Climate change and its effects on people are making the relationship between human rights and protecting the environment stronger.
We live on Earth and need it, so it makes sense that what happens to the environment has an effect on people. The right to clean air, soil, and water are just as important as any of the other rights on this list.
5. It provides a universal blueprint used to check the excesses of governments and people
When the UDHR came out, it was meant to do two things: set a standard for the future and force the world to admit that a lot of human rights had been broken during WWII.
With a clear definition of what a human right is, governments can be held responsible for what they do.
The scope of human rights hasn’t changed much in the decades since the UDHR. Technology, climate change, and scientific progress are all causing the world to change.
We don’t have to throw out everything we used to know about human rights. Instead, society should be open to making changes to the types of human rights and how they are used in real life to make things better.