Human Rights

“No one gives us rights. We win them in struggle. They exist in our hearts before they exist on paper. Yet intellectual struggle is one of the most important areas of the battle for rights. It is through concepts that we link our dreams to the acts of daily life.”

Albie Sachs (1990)

The modern international human rights framework is built on the Charter of the United Nations, which establishes that one of the main purposes of the organization is to achieve international cooperation “in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion”

There are several essential features of human rights as they are set out in these international instruments. First, human rights are universal, meaning that all people everywhere are entitled to human rights . Second, international human rights law provides that all people are born equal in dignity and rights and that they are entitled to all rights without discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status . Third, people are entitled to take part in public affairs and to have meaningful input into the public decisions that affect their lives . Fourth, people are entitled to hold their governments accountable for ensuring their human rights and to an effective remedy when these rights are violated . Finally, all human rights are inter-related and interdependent, meaning that the realization of one right, such as the right to education, increases the opportunities for exercising more fully other rights, such as the rights to health and to work .

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