Friday, May 2, 2008

Human Rights

How in general terms, are human rights protected today?

Introduction

Generally Human rights are international moral and legal norms that aspire to protect all people everywhere from severe political, legal, and social abuses. Examples of human rights are the right to freedom of religion, the right to a fair trial when charged with a crime, the right not to be tortured, and the right to engage in political activity. These rights exist in morality and in law at the national and international levels. They are addressed primarily to governments, requiring compliance and enforcement. The main source of the contemporary conception of human rights is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations, 1948b) and the many human rights documents and treaties that have followed in its wake.

We are all equally responsible for the protection of human rights – not just for ourselves, but for others as well. This is not to say that as individuals we are solely responsible. Clearly, this responsibility is shared among our governments, parliaments and courts. In fact, all of these bodies play an important role in providing both direct protection and a means by which this protection may be pursued. However, the most successful form of protection is through widespread appreciation of, and respect for, human rights. It is this that forms the basis of our own self-respect as well as respect for the dignity of others.

There are two fundamentally interrelated answers to the question: how are human rights protected today? The first answer considers the law and how the legal system as a whole protects human rights. The second answer considers the protection offered by individual institutions and their processes.


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