Human Rights Essay

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What are human rights? The key internationally agreed definition of human rights is contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), proclaimed in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly. Human rights are universal values. All member countries of the UN – developed and developing – have endorsed the UDHR, a document based on wide-ranging consultation across different cultures. The concept of human rights has a long history. Human rights principles are found, for example, in the English Bill of Rights (1689), the American Bill of Rights (1789) and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789). They are found also as fundamental aspirations in civilisations from many continents. Popular awareness of human rights issues is now growing throughout the world, including in developing countries, as information is spread through the media and the internet. Implementation of human rights principles at a local level is not necessarily a clear or simple issue. There may be disagreements between local people, each claiming the right to a particular resource or holding incompatible views about development. Rights may conflict with each other (extremists, for example, may abuse the right to free speech to incite persecution of minorities). But this is not an argument against human rights, rather for understanding and judiciously balancing competing demands. Many people associate human rights only with torture of political prisoners or other abuses of power by governments. But human rights, as defined in the UDHR, also include economic, social and cultural rights, such as the right to work, to education, to respect for culture, and to a decent standard of living. As well as the UDHR, the key instruments of international human rights law are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the

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