What are human rights? They are norms, which are designed to protect people from political, legal and social abuses . Human rights are applied to all people — this means that there is no matter which gender, race or class are they, or what are their beliefs. These rights will protect them anyway.
In this essay I am going to discuss general ideas of human rights through their basic characteristic, and then talk about different types of human rights.
Keywords: human rights, UDHR.
There are four basic characteristics, which all human rights must have. They are universality, inalienability, absoluteness, and indivisibility . In this section I will discuss meaning of all these characteristics and why human rights cannot exist without them.
In easy words universality of human rights mean that they must be the same everywhere and for everyone . These rights ensure the dignity and worth of the human person and ensure human well-being. Sometimes people have a question if human rights are truly universal. But their real question if the rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) are applicable for all countries and cultures. The text of UDHR is written in universal terms, like “all human beings” or “everyone”. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a quintessence of many different cultural, legal, and religious beliefs. For 50 years of its existence its ideals have been repeatedly reasserted.
I would start with the definition of word “inalienability” from Macmillan Dictionary : “cannot be taken away from you or given to someone else”. This characteristic means that every human being will have these rights with the fact of its birth as such. Thus, it is not possible to take these rights away from person in legal terms, as it can be done with some other rights. What is more, no one can voluntarily waive the rights, even for some reward or benefit.
The absoluteness of human rights refers to their validity in relation to other people and to the institutions of the country as a whole. There are no reasons to limit absolute rights, and such rights cannot be qualified or limited under any circumstances. What is more, a declared state of emergency also cannot be an excuse for suspending or restricting absolute rights. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to fulfil this characteristic in the real world. So, the absurdness of human rights is a form of “pretentious protection” or reduction and general skepticism towards any form of pressure to reduce or limit them .
All human rights function as a system in different defined areas (from cultural to civil-political). All these rights have equal status, so it is impossible to create a hierarchy of them. Taking in account the description above, denial of one right invariably impedes enjoyment of other rights; human rights cannot exist or be applied partly. For example, the right to an adequate standard of living cannot work without right to health or the right to education.
Types of human rights
Human rights can be dived in groups by three criteria: the time when they occurred and were legally formulated; the area to which they relate; and their holder or subject . This section will discuss different classifications of human rights and types, which each of them include.
Time of occurrence and legal formulation of human rights
According to this classification there are three generations of human rights:
– First generation rights or Liberté. This group includes individual’s civil and political rights, which can be split into following groups: norms of “physical and civil security” and norms of “civil-political liberties or empowerments”.
– Second generation rights or Égalité. The second generation refers to socio-economic rights and also can be devided into two sub-categories: norms of fulfillment of basic needs (healthcare and nutrition) and economic needs (sufficient standards of living).
– Third generation rights or Fraternité. This category includes broad class rights and can be devided into two sub-categories. The first sub-category includes different aspects of community development and political status, and refers to self-determination of people. And the second sub-category includes rights of ethnic and religious minorities.
The idea of three generations was first introduced in 1977 by Karel Vasak, UNESCOs legal advisor and distinguished human rights scholar, in his article for UNESCO Courier . In the first version of theory he did not present any arguments or accurate timeframe to create context for the general concept. Two years later the theory was modified  by linking idea of generations to three concepts of French Revolution: Liberté , Egalité and Fraternité .
Areas of human rights
Areas of relation of human rights overall match the three generation and can be divided in three major groups: civil-political rights, socio-economic and cultural rights, solidarity rights, etc. There also can be much more specific groups, such as rights of children, of disabled, of cultural minorities, etc., but in this essay, I will discuss only major categories.
Areas of human rights:
– Civil and political rights are the fundamental rights, which were described the first. They protect individuals' freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations and private individuals. They also ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the society and state without discrimination or repression.
– Economic, social and cultural rights were developed in the aftermath of World War II. They include the human right to work, an adequate standard of living (food, clothing, and housing), physical and mental health, social security, to a healthy environment, and education.
– Solidarity rights focus mostly on collective concepts, such as community or people. The examples of solidarity rights are the right of peace, healthy environment, economic and social development, etc.
Holder/subject of human rights
Human rights can be divided in two major categories: individual rights and collective, also called group, rights. Most rights are individual, it means that the holder or subject of this rights is an individual. However, sometimes in order to practically realize human rights a certain group need to be formatted. The main difference of collective rights from individual is in the collective element in the stage of realization of the right , because the holder of group rights are still individuals. However, there may be some exceptions, where the subject of the right is the group, for example, some minority rights.
To conclude, by the general view collective rights originate from individual and serve for their fuller realization. Effective implementation of human rights is achieved when individuals are grouped. In such way it will be easier to provide additional protection and promote chances to exercise the individual rights.
To conclude, human rights have a complicated and complex concept. What is more, human rights are essential for human wellbeing: they regulate every part of our lives and make it easier. That is why the protection and maintenance of human rights is the primary goal of any government. In my opinion, human rights nowadays are in the stage active development. And the next step of their elaboration is creating environment for regulating human rights in the digital sphere of our lives.
- “International law of human rights” by LJubomir D. Frchkoski
- http://www.hdr.undp.org/en/content/universality-and-priorities#:~:text=Simply %20stated %2C %20universality %20of %20human,to %20inalienable %20rights %20and %20freedoms.&text= %E2 %80 %9CAll %20human %20beings %E2 %80 %9D %20are %20born,equal %20in %20dignity %20and %20rights “Universality and priorities” by Mary Robinson
- https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000074816.nameddest=48063 “A 30-year struggle. The sustained efforts to give force of law to the Universal Declarati8on of Human Rights” by Karel Vasak
- https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/18311175?selectedversion=NBD3464148 “Etudes et essais sur le droit international humanitaire et sur les principes de la Croix-Rouge en l'honneur de Jean Pictet” by Karel Vasak