By Rob Rainer and Josephine Grey
July 16, 2017
Human rights are conditions of life that are “inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status.” They are designed to inform and support positive relationships between individuals, families, communities, institutions, and states. The principles which underlie and the treaties and laws that articulate them—if defended and upheld —anchor our humanity and civilization.
Thus, “every individual is a rights-holder, having inherent dignity and equal worth. There are also duty-bearers (primarily states and their agencies) with correlative obligations. International human rights law, and the mechanisms that use, interpret and apply that law, provide a normative basis for understanding the content of these rights and obligations. Human rights provide mechanisms both outside the courtroom and within it by which rights-holders can seek to hold duty-bearers accountable.”
At the core of human rights are the ideals and goals of the “four freedoms” articulated by US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from fear, and freedom from want—and also the primary goal of self-determination. To achieve these conditions, it is also understood that while all rights are “interrelated, interdependent and indivisible,” the absolute basics of life (e.g., water, food, clothing, and shelter) must first be met.
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