Welcome to the first addition of NLR Writes: Human Rights, where a series of human rights analysis pieces will be introduced on a regular basis. But before we can really get into human rights discrepancies within the US, abroad, and throughout the world, we must truly know what it means.
Human rights are just that–rights that are guaranteed to each and every individual, regardless of color, sex, gender, religion, nationality, disability– regardless of anything other than you being a human (sorry ET). With that being said, there’s no need for you to “opt in” because you already qualify. In December 10th of 1948, representatives from 48 different countries signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was to set the standards that were to be achieved by all countries, for all people of the world.
Today, human rights is a topic that has gained international momentum, and the Declaration itself is used to reference violations, and as reasons why sanctions should be imposed on countries, organizations, and individuals alike, for such violations.
So what exactly is a “human right?” Well, there are 30 articles within the declaration, that each cover what is believed to be a basic privilege that cannot, and should not be disregarded. Some of the articles include:
- Right to equality
- Right to life, liberty, personal security
- Freedom from slavery
- Freedom from torture and degrading treatment
- Freedom from arbitrary arrest and exile
- Freedom from interference with privacy, family, home, and correspondence
- Right to free movement, in and out of the country
- Right to marriage and family
- Right to adequate living standard
- Right to education
- Freedom from state, or personal interference in the listed human rights
These are just some to name a few. But if you’re like me, then as you read just those few, then you probably thought about the many ways in which you know those rights are violated; either elsewhere, or in your own country. And this is true.
All countries violate your human rights on a daily basis and have been doing so since the beginning of their creation. So why are they able to do this? Although 48 countries have signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and many others have ratified its articles, the document itself IS NOT LEGALLY BINDING. So it dangles the ideas of what should be, without the power of enforcing them on the countries that signed into it.
A visual would sort of look like this:
Where surely you want the cheesy, in this case, your rights, but the powers that be, are selfishly not wanting you to. Why? Power. And Money. Simple as that. But that is a deeper conversation to be had for a later post.
With the Declaration not being legally binding, why would any country feel the need to uphold the articles set forth? Though your human rights are violated due to governmental need of power, there are ways that human rights activists are able to push their agendas forward also. And that includes, shaming a country and its leaders by exposing their violations internationally, and confronting those violations through the United Nations; to which this could escalate into other countries imposing sanctions on the country of focus. Sanctions could include monetary fines, the ending of trade agreements, not allowing the transport of goods through an important port, or any other method that essentially translates to money and resources for the country in question.
So why do you know more about civil rights than you do human rights? How are they different, or the same? Well these are all great questions, and you’re right, wouldn’t human rights be the standard to which we should all hold our countries accountable? Why, yes. But civil rights are the agreements that are between a country, state, nation, and its constituents. Basically rights that you have within your country and enjoy in-house. Whereas, human rights are the most fundamental rights and necessary for all of humans, regardless of location and nationality.
What is very important to know about the difference between the two, is that, international players are less likely to take action to enforce a nation’s violation of its own civil rights, but more likely to respond to human rights violations.
Moving forward as person in this world, I ask that you take your human rights, and knowledge of them, very seriously. It is important that we hold our governments and its representatives accountable for their violations of our most basic human rights. When addressing these violations, they may seem like civil rights only; but with reinforcement, so much more change and progress can be made in the right steps for our civil rights, when they are addressed as human rights firstly.