WHAT ARE HUMAN RIGHTS?
Human rights are rights we have simply because we are human
beings. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:
"all human beings are born free and equal in dignity
and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and
should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
Human rights are based on the principle that human beings
are of equal and intrinsic value. Even though we have our
differences as far as gender, skin colour, ethnic and religious
background are concerned, we have the same basic needs and
the same right to protection.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by
the member states of the worldwide organisation the UN (the
United Nations) in 1948. No countries voted against its adoption.
The declaration contains 30 articles that ask the authorities
to observe their citizens' rights. For the first time, human
rights applied to people throughout the world.
Since 1948, states have, through the UN and other international
organisations, produced many human rights documents. These
international conventions prove that even though people have
different views about life and interests, people from across
the world can still agree on some fundamental values and work
together to realise them.
Human rights define the obligations authorities have
with respect to individuals. Every country has a responsibility
not to treat people differently based on the colour of their
skin, gender, language, religion, political or other convictions,
national or social origin, property, birth or other circumstances.
The state also has a responsibility to ensure people social
benefits such as schooling and work, as well as access to
science and culture, freedom of expression, freedom of religion,
freedom to organise and the right to participate in the governing
of their country.