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Human Right Course
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What are human rights?
The history of human rights
What right do we have?
The protection of Human Rights
Inter-governmental organisations
Non-governmental organisations
The press and media
International criminal courts
Human rights in everyday life
Human Rights

Did you know

Did you know that in the 1900s state authorities were responsible for the deaths of more than 169 million people?




The history of man shows that people in power and state authorities have committed injustices and been responsible for the mass murder of their citizens. The book "Death by Government" looks at the most serious crimes of mass murder committed by states during the 1900s (up until 1987). It looks at Germany under Nazism, the Soviet Union under Communism, China under Communism, Cambodia during the rule of the Khmer Rouge, and all other regimes that have committed injustices of a magnitude that can be described as genocide and mass murder. The book shows that as many as 169 million people have been murdered by state authorities. The study concludes that the greater the power a state has, the greater the chance is that it will act arbitrarily and follow the whims of the political elite. The greater the power, the more warlike and the greater the number killed. The study also shows that the more the power of the state is limited, divided and decentralised, controlled and balanced, the less aggressive it will be. This is why democracies commit fewer acts of genocide and state mass murders than other regimes. The best thing one can do to prevent future acts of state mass murder is therefore to encourage and facilitate democracy and human rights.

Human rights are the rules that are intended to limit the state's arbitrary power by defining the obligations it has with respect to its citizens. Human rights are therefore primarily rules with which states must comply. It is the state authorities that are responsible for implementing human rights.

But other actors are also important. While they play various roles and have different types of power, they all influence society and can promote human rights.

Inter-governmental organisations
Independent human rights organisations
The press and media

It is also important to be aware of the fact that as individuals we can also make a contribution. If you are young you have opportunities everyday to discuss discrimination, bullying or other problems with your family, at school or among friends. "Think globally, act locally!" is a slogan that can also be applied to human rights with good effect.



- In 1930-1953, an incredible number of people were arrested, exiled or simply executed in the Soviet Union under the leadership of Josef Vissarionovitsj Stalin. All of the power was held by him and a few loyal supporters. Stalin's suspicion and fear of potential enemies lead him, during his period as the Soviet's leader, to arrest, exile and execute those who did not agree with him. It is thought that more than 20 million people were simply executed. Calculations show that more than 40 million civilians died due to Stalin's policies.

- In 2000, Native Americans received a public apology from the USA's Bureau of Indian Affairs for the many massacres, forced transfers they suffered and the destruction of Native American languages and cultures.

Fact box

- The indigenous people of Australia, the Aborigines, have long been treated badly by the authorities. Even though the government now acknowledges grave human rights violations in the past, they still refuse to make a public apology. The Australian people have however established a new tradition, "Sorry Day" on 26th May.

- The Roma and Sámi are minority groups that have long been treated badly by the Norwegian state. In 1998, they received an apology from the government. On 6th February 2004, the Sámi flag was flown above all public buildings to mark Sámi National Day for the first time.

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