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Human rights

The Bill of Rights
English Bill of Rights of 1689.jpg
Ratified December 16, 1689
Location Parliamentary Archives
Author(s) Parliament of England
Purpose Assert certain rights

Human rights are moral principles or norms, which describe certain standards of human behaviour, and are regularly protected as legal rights in municipal and international law. They are commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights "to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being," and which are "inherent in all human beings" regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethnic origin or any other status. They are applicable everywhere and at every time in the sense of being universal, and they are egalitarian in the sense of being the same for everyone. They require empathy and the rule of law and impose an obligation on persons to respect the human rights of others. They should not be taken away except as a result of due process based on specific circumstances; for example, human rights may include freedom from unlawful imprisonment, torture, and execution.

The doctrine of human rights has been highly influential within international law, global and regional institutions. Actions by states and non-governmental organizations form a basis of public policy worldwide. The idea of human rights suggests that "if the public discourse of peacetime global society can be said to have a common moral language, it is that of human rights." The strong claims made by the doctrine of human rights continue to provoke considerable skepticism and debates about the content, nature and justifications of human rights to this day. The precise meaning of the term right is controversial and is the subject of continued philosophical debate; while there is consensus that human rights encompasses a wide variety of rights such as the right to a fair trial, protection against enslavement, prohibition of genocide, free speech, or a right to education, there is disagreement about which of these particular rights should be included within the general framework of human rights; some thinkers suggest that human rights should be a minimum requirement to avoid the worst-case abuses, while others see it as a higher standard.



  • Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam
  • aspirations or goals, as opposed to real 'legal' rights
  • ideologically divisive/political, meaning that there is no consensus on what should and shouldn't be provided as a right
  • non-justiciable, meaning that their provision, or the breach of them, cannot be judged in a court of law
  • positive, meaning that they require active provision of entitlements by the state (as opposed to the state being required only to prevent the breach of rights)
  • progressive, meaning that they will take significant time to implement
  • resource-intensive, meaning that they are expensive and difficult to provide
  • socialist, as opposed to capitalist
  • vague, meaning they cannot be quantitatively measured, and whether they are adequately provided or not is difficult to judge
  • capitalist
  • cost-free
  • immediate, meaning they can be immediately provided if the state decides to
  • justiciable
  • negative, meaning the state can protect them simply by taking no action
  • non-ideological/non-political
  • precise, meaning their provision is easy to judge and measure
  • real 'legal' rights
  • The Human Rights Committee promotes participation with the standards of the ICCPR. The eighteen members of the committee express opinions on member countries and make judgments on individual complaints against countries which have ratified an Optional Protocol to the treaty. The judgments, termed "views", are not legally binding.
  • The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights monitors the ICESCR and makes general comments on ratifying countries performance. It will have the power to receive complaints against the countries that opted into the Optional Protocol once it has come into force. It is important to note that unlike the other treaty bodies, the economic committee is not an autonomous body responsible to the treaty parties, but directly responsible to the Economic and Social Council and ultimately to the General Assembly. This means that the Economic Committee faces particular difficulties at its disposal only relatively "weak" means of implementation in comparison to other treaty bodies. Particular difficulties noted by commentators include: perceived vagueness of the principles of the treaty, relative lack of legal texts and decisions, ambivalence of many states in addressing economic, social and cultural rights, comparatively few non-governmental organizations focused on the area and problems with obtaining relevant and precise information.
  • The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination monitors the CERD and conducts regular reviews of countries' performance. It can make judgments on complaints against member states allowing it, but these are not legally binding. It issues warnings to attempt to prevent serious contraventions of the convention.
  • The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women monitors the CEDAW. It receives states' reports on their performance and comments on them, and can make judgments on complaints against countries which have opted into the 1999 Optional Protocol.
  • The Committee Against Torture monitors the CAT and receives states' reports on their performance every four years and comments on them. Its subcommittee may visit and inspect countries which have opted into the Optional Protocol.
  • The Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors the CRC and makes comments on reports submitted by states every five years. It does not have the power to receive complaints.
  • The Committee on Migrant Workers was established in 2004 and monitors the ICRMW and makes comments on reports submitted by states every five years. It will have the power to receive complaints of specific violations only once ten member states allow it.
  • The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was established in 2008 to monitor the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It has the power to receive complaints against the countries which have opted into the .
  • The Committee on Enforced Disappearances monitors the ICPPED. All States parties are obliged to submit reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of "concluding observations”.
  • the right to be heard by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal
  • the right to a public hearing
  • the right to be heard within a reasonable time
  • the right to counsel
  • the right to interpretation
  • Beitz, Charles R. (2009). The idea of human rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN . 
  • Moyn, Samuel (2010). The last utopia: human rights in history. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN . 
  • Donnelly, Jack (2003). Universal human rights in theory and practice (2nd ed.). Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN . 
  • Ball, Olivia; Gready, Paul (2006). The no-nonsense guide to human rights. New Internationalist. Oxford. ISBN . 
  • Freeman, Michael (2002). Human rights : an interdisciplinary approach. Cambridge: Polity Press. ISBN . 
  • Doebbler, Curtis F. J (2006). Introduction to international human rights law. Cd Publishing. ISBN . 
  • Keys, Barbara J. (2014). Reclaiming American Virtue: The Human Rights Revolution of the 1970s. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Shaw, Malcolm (2008). International Law (6th ed.). Leiden: Cambridge University Press. ISBN . 
  • Ishay, Micheline R. (2008). The history of human rights : from ancient times to the globalization era. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press. ISBN . 
  • Brownlie, Ian (2003). Principles of Public International Law (6th ed.). OUP. ISBN . 
  • Glendon, Mary Ann (2001). A world made new : Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. New York: Random House. ISBN . 
  • Sepúlveda, Magdalena; van Banning, Theo; Gudmundsdóttir, Gudrún; Chamoun, Christine; van Genugten, Willem J.M. (2004). Human rights reference handbook (3rd ed. rev. ed.). Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica: University of Peace. ISBN . [6]
  • Ignatieff, Michael (2001). Human rights as politics and idolatry (3. print. ed.). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. ISBN . 
  • Abouharb, R. and D. Cingranelli (2007). "Human Rights and Structural Adjustment". New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Barzilai, G (2003), Communities and Law: Politics and Cultures of Legal Identities. The University of Michigan Press, 2003.
  • Barsh, R. (1993). “Measuring Human Rights: Problems of Methodology and Purpose.” Human Rights Quarterly 15: 87-121.
  • Chauhan, O.P. (2004). Human Rights: Promotion and Protection. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD.
  • Forsythe, David P. (2000). Human Rights in International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. International Progress Organization.
  • Forsythe, Frederick P. (2009). Encyclopedia of Human Rights (New York: Oxford University Press)
  • Ishay, M. (2004). The history of human rights: From ancient times to the globalization era. Los Angeles, California: University California Press.
  • Landman, Todd (2006). Studying Human Rights. Oxford and London: Routledge
  • Renouard, Joe. Human Rights in American Foreign Policy: From the 1960s to the Soviet Collapse (U of Pennsylvania Press, 2016). 324 pp.
  • Robertson, Arthur Henry; Merrills, John Graham (1996). Human Rights in the World: An Introduction to the Study of the International Protection of Human Rights. Manchester University Press. .
  • Steinberg, Gerald M., Anne Herzberg and Jordan Berman (2012). Best Practices for Human Rights and Humanitarian NGO Fact-Finding. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers / Brill
  • Steiner, J. & Alston, Philip. (1996). International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics, Morals. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Shute, Stephen & Hurley, Susan (eds.). (1993). On Human Rights: The Oxford Amnesty Lectures. New York: BasicBooks.
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