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Updated: Sep 17, 2021


What are human rights?

There are inherent human rights over all human rights, regardless of race, gender, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights without discrimination.

International human rights law

International human rights law induces governments to act in certain ways or to avoid certain acts, so as to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.

One of the great achievements of the United Nations is the creation of a comprehensive body of human rights law - a universally and internationally protected code to which all nations can subscribe and all people aspire. The United Nations has defined a wide range of internationally accepted rights, including civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. It has also put in place mechanisms to promote and protect these rights and to assist states in fulfilling their responsibilities.

The foundations of this body law are the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the General Assembly in 1945 and 1948 respectively. Since then, the United Nations has gradually expanded human rights legislation to include specific standards for women, children, persons with disabilities, minorities and other vulnerable groups who now hold the rights that protect them from discrimination Which were common for a long time in many societies.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Prepared by representatives of all regions of the world with different legal and cultural backgrounds, the Declaration was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 by General Assembly Resolution 217A (III) as a common standard of achievement for all people Was. And all nations. It prescribes, for the first time, universal human rights to be protected. Since its adoption in 1948, the UDHR has been translated into more than 500 languages ​​- the most translated document in the world - and has inspired the formation of many new independent states and many new democracies. The UDHR forms the so-called form of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two alternative protocols (on grievance procedure and the death penalty) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and its Alternative Protocol. International Bill of Human Rights.

Economic, social and cultural rights

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights came into force in 1976. The human rights that are involved in promoting and protecting the covenant:

The right to work only in more favorable circumstances;

Right to social security, adequate living standards and highest attainable standards of physical and mental well-being;

The right to education and the enjoyment of cultural freedom and the benefits of scientific progress.

Civil and political rights

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its First Alternative Protocol came into force in 1976. The second alternative protocol was adopted in 1989.

The covenant deals with rights such as freedom of movement; equality before the law; The right to a fair trial and presumption of innocence; Freedom of thought, conscience and religion; Freedom of opinion and expression; Peaceful assembly; freedom of association; Participation in public affairs and elections; And protection of minority rights. It prohibits arbitrary deprivation of life; Torture, cruel or degrading treatment or punishment; Slavery and forced labor; Arbitrary arrest or detention; Arbitrary interference with privacy; Promotion of war; discrimination; And advocating racial or religious hatred.

Human rights conference

Since 1945, a series of international human rights treaties and other instruments have expanded the gamut of international human rights law. These include the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crime of Genocide (1948), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979). The Convention on the Child (1989) and Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities with Disabilities (2006), others.

Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council, established by the General Assembly on 15 March 2006 and reporting directly to it, replaced the 60-year-old United Nations Commission on Human Rights as the United Nations inter-governmental body responsible for human rights. The council is made up of 47 state representatives and is tasked with strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights.

The most innovative feature of the Human Rights Council is the Universal Periodic Review. This unique mechanism involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN member states once every four years. The Review is a cooperative, state-driven process, under the auspices of the Council, which provides the opportunity for each state to present measures taken and challenges to be met to improve the human rights situation in their country and to meet their international obligations. The Review is designed to ensure universality and equality of treatment for every country.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights exercises principal responsibility for UN human rights activities. The High Commissioner is mandated to respond to serious violations of human rights and to undertake preventive action.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is the focal point for United Nations human rights activities. It serves as the secretariat for the Human Rights Council, the treaty bodies (expert committees that monitor treaty compliance) and other UN human rights organs. It also undertakes human rights field activities.

Most of the core human rights treaties have an oversight body which is responsible for reviewing the implementation of that treaty by the countries that have ratified it. Individuals, whose rights have been violated can file complaints directly to Committees overseeing human rights treaties.

Human Rights and the UN System

Human rights is a cross-cutting theme in all UN policies and programmes in the key areas of peace and security, development, humanitarian assistance, and economic and social affairs. As a result, virtually every UN body and specialized agency is involved to some degree in the protection of human rights. Some examples are the right to development, which is at the core of the Sustainable Development Goals; the right to food, championed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, labour rights, defined and protected by the International Labour Organization, gender equality, which is promulgated by UN Women, the rights of children, indigenous peoples, and disabled persons.

Human rights day is observed every year on 10 December.


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