Advertisement
Legal Dictionary

human rights

Definition of human rights

Noun

human rights (uncountable)

  1. The basic rights and freedoms that all humans should be guaranteed, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law.
  2. Plural form of human right.

Further reading

Human rights are "basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled." Examples of rights and freedoms which have come to be commonly thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; and economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to participate in culture, the right to be treated with respect and dignity, the right to food, the right to work, and the right to education in some countries.

    "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." - Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

Treaties

In 1966, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) were adopted by the United Nations, between them making the rights contained in the UDHR binding on all states that have signed this treaty, creating human rights law.

Since then numerous other treaties (pieces of legislation) have been offered at the international level. They are generally known as human rights instruments. Some of the most significant are:

  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) (adopted 1966, entry into force: 1969) [1]
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (entry into force: 1981) [2]
  • United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) (adopted 1984, entry into force: 1984) [3]
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (adopted 1989, entry into force: 1989) [4]
  • International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW) (adopted 1990, entry into force: 2003)

Enforcement of law

The enforcement of international human rights law is the responsibility of the Nation State, and its the primary responsibility of the State to make human rights a reality. There is currently no international court that upholds human rights law (the International Criminal Court deals with crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide), although the Council of Europe is responsible for both the European Convention on Human Rights, and the European Court of Human Rights that acts as a court of last appeal for human rights issues in member states.

In practice, many human rights are very difficult to legally enforce due to the absence of consensus on the application of certain rights, the lack of relevant national legislation or of bodies empowered to take legal action to enforce them.

References:

  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.



SHARE THIS PAGE


TOP LEGAL TERMS THIS WEEK
1.     AORO
2.     stare decisis
3.     Miranda warning
4.     adjudication order
5.     lex patriae
6.     appellant
7.     capital punishment
8.     precedent
9.     abscond
10.     tenancy in common