Human rights are important to everyone, not just those who face oppression or discrimination.
What are Human Rights?
Human rights are a set of basic entitlements for everyone, regardless of background, where they live, what they look like, and what they think or believe. This includes race, colour, sex, ethnicity, age, language, religion, political views, nationality, disability, socioeconomic status and much more. We also all have the right to freedom from slavery, and torture, and the right to free expression, work, and education.
Human rights uphold the values of freedom, fairness, respect, equality, and dignity. They are universal and inalienable, which means people everywhere in the world are entitled to them, no one can voluntarily give them up and no one can take them away. All human beings are entitled to their human rights without discrimination of any kind. These entitlements are defined and protected by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948. Governments are required to uphold these rights and are not able to determine which ones they want to respect or not.
In its final Article, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that no State, group, or person ‘[has] any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein‘.
However, this does not prevent abuses and violations of human rights to happen. Every day there is tragic news stories of murder, rape, violence, racism, hunger, unemployment, poverty, abuse, homelessness, and discrimination.
Fortunately, the Universal Declaration is more than a guideline it is a set of legal principles. To meet international human rights obligations, many nations incorporate these principles into their laws. This provides an opportunity for individuals to have a complaint heard by a court in their own country. UN member countries believe the protection of human rights help ensure freedom, justice, and peace for all now and in the future.
Human Rights for Indigenous Peoples
There are 370 million Indigenous people in the world. Indigenous people have all the same rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 2007 the United Nations also passed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples because of their unique position as first peoples of their nations and to help eliminate human rights violations against them. These groups are diverse but have common issues that affect Indigenous people throughout the world.
Issues include, the ongoing effects of colonisation and oppression, discrimination and mistreatment and exclusion from participating in processes affecting their rights. This means they are more likely to experience poverty, imprisonment, ill health, and restrictions on self-determination.
First people’s rights help protect their culture, including their right to speak and teach their native language and customs, to live on the land of their ancestors, and to look after sacred sites.
Why are Human Rights Important?
In the past few years there has been a lot of attention on human rights. This information empowers individuals with knowledge of their human rights and how they can access them through laws and awareness campaigns. Human rights are an important part of how people interact with family, community, schools, workplace, and everyone else. People who understand what human rights are and how they benefit everyone are more likely to encourage fairness, peace, tolerance, and respect in their communities.
Putting human rights principles into practice creates the kind of society we all want to live and thrive in.
Images by Canva