6.0 HUMAN RIGHTS
Why are they your business?
Human rights affect all of our lives. They concern all of
us because they are about what we are entitled to as individuals
and about not being treated differently because of our nationality,
ethnicity, religion or membership of a social group.
Human rights oblige people in power to respect you and value
your unique life. You belong to more than one type of social
group and have more than one identity. You belong to some
groups simply because you are born in them, e.g. your family,
nation and the community of people who share your sexual orientation.
Other identities you choose yourself such as being a musician,
poet, athlete, politician or priest. Other identities can
be forced upon you by external circumstances such as, for
example, being a displaced person, an ethnic minority, or
wheelchair user. Human rights are intended to ensure your
right to be who you are with you own combination of identities
- even if you are completely different to everyone else.
You have the right to be who you are and who you want to
be - as long as it is not at the expense of another person's
right to be who he or she is.
As a person you have to rely on others. You also hold a small
part of other people's lives in your hands as well. This involves
both power and obligations. You have the power to ruin things
for another person, and therefore have an obligation not to
do so. You also have the power to help another person, and
therefore have a responsibility to do so.
Individualism means you are free to decide about your own
life. However, if you have the freedom to take your own decisions
you also have a duty to take responsibility for them. The
freedom of having rights and having responsibilities for other
people's rights are two sides of the same coin. Individualism
therefore does not mean, as some people believe, that you
are free of obligations and responsibilities. That is selfish
and completely contrary to human rights. Individualism actually
means that you have the freedom to resist when either your
or other's rights are violated.
Human rights have been implemented to a great extent in today's
Norway. But we must not take them for granted. For many years
people have been oppressed, persecuted and killed because
they have fought for human rights. This is still the case
in many places in the world.
The human rights situation in a society can be gauged by
the situations of those who have the least power: children,
refugees, war victims, the sick, the disabled, ethnic minorities,
etc. Everyone could at some time in their lives find themselves
belonging to one of these groups and relying more heavily
on other people to ensure our rights. Therefore the work we
do on human rights is something we do both for people who
live far away and for ourselves, families and friends.
This is why human rights are your business.