The history of human rights

The Rights of Man.

The history of human rights

Human Rights Fundamentals A Short History of Human Rights The belief that everyone, by virtue of her or his humanity, is entitled to certain human rights is fairly new. Its roots, however, lie in earlier tradition and documents of many cultures; it took the catalyst of World War II to propel human rights onto the global stage and into the global conscience.

The history of human rights societies have had traditions similar to the "golden rule" of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

In addition, the Inca and Aztec codes of conduct and justice and an Iroquois Constitution were Native American sources that existed well before the 18th century.

In fact, all societies, whether in oral or written tradition, have had systems of propriety and justice as well as ways of tending to the health and welfare of their members.

Yet many of these documents, when originally translated into policy, excluded women, people of color, and members of certain social, religious, economic, and political groups.

Nevertheless, oppressed people throughout the world have drawn on the principles these documents express to support revolutions that assert the right to self-determination. Contemporary international human rights law and the establishment of the United Nations UN have important historical antecedents.

Efforts in the 19th century to prohibit the slave trade and to limit the horrors of war are prime examples. Incountries established the International Labor Organization ILO to oversee treaties protecting workers with respect to their rights, including their health and safety. Concern over the protection of certain minority groups was raised by the League of Nations at the end of the First World War.

However, this organization for international peace and cooperation, created by the victorious European allies, never achieved its goals. It finally died with the onset of the Second World War The extermination by Nazi Germany of over six million Jews, Sinti and Romani gypsieshomosexuals, and persons with disabilities horrified the world.

Trials were held in Nuremberg and Tokyo after World War II, and officials from the defeated countries were punished for committing war crimes, "crimes against peace," and "crimes against humanity. People wanted to ensure that never again would anyone be unjustly denied life, freedom, food, shelter, and nationality.

The calls came from across the globe for human rights standards to protect citizens from abuses by their governments, standards against which nations could be held accountable for the treatment of those living within their borders. These voices played a critical role in the San Francisco meeting that drafted the United Nations Charter in To advance this goal, the UN established a Commission on Human Rights and charged it with the task of drafting a document spelling out the meaning of the fundamental rights and freedoms proclaimed in the Charter.

The vote was unanimous, although eight nations chose to abstain. It claims that all rights are interdependent and indivisible. Its Preamble eloquently asserts that: The influence of the UDHR has been substantial.

Its principles have been incorporated into the constitutions of most of the more than nations now in the UN. Although a declaration is not a legally binding document, the Universal Declaration has achieved the status of customary international law because people regard it "as a common standard of achievement for all people and all nations.

Both covenants trumpet the extension of rights to all persons and prohibit discrimination. As ofover nations have ratified these covenants. The United States, however, has ratified only the ICCPR, and even that with many reservations, or formal exceptions, to its full compliance.

See From Concept to Convention: How Human Rights Law Evolves. Subsequent Human Rights Documents In addition to the covenants in the International Bill of Human Rights, the United Nations has adopted more than 20 principal treaties further elaborating human rights.

These include conventions to prevent and prohibit specific abuses like torture and genocide and to protect especially vulnerable populations, such as refugees Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees,women Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and children Convention on the Rights of the Child As of the United States has ratified only these conventions: The dramatic changes in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America since have powerfully demonstrated a surge in demand for respect of human rights.

Popular movements in China, Korea, and other Asian nations reveal a similar commitment to these principles. The Role of Nongovernmental Organizations Globally the champions of human rights have most often been citizens, not government officials.

In particular, nongovernmental organizations NGOs have played a cardinal role in focusing the international community on human rights issues.

Government officials who understand the human rights framework can also effect far reaching change for freedom.

Johnson, and Jimmy Carter have taken strong stands for human rights. In other countries leaders like Nelson Mandela and Vaclev Havel have brought about great changes under the banner of human rights.

Human rights is an idea whose time has come. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a call to freedom and justice for people throughout the world. Every day governments that violate the rights of their citizens are challenged and called to task.

Every day human beings worldwide mobilize and confront injustice and inhumanity. Like drops of water falling on a rock, they wear down the forces of oppression and move the world closer to achieving the principles expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.Documents asserting individual rights, such the Magna Carta (), the English Bill of Rights (), the French Declaration on the Rights of Man and Citizen (), and the US Constitution and Bill of Rights () are the written precursors to many of today’s human rights documents.

About the Book. Micheline Ishay recounts the dramatic struggle for human rights across the ages in a book that brilliantly synthesizes historical and intellectual developments from the Mesopotamian Codes of Hammurabi to today's era of globalization.

New human rights challenges in the s led to important innovations in the work of Human Rights Watch. Its reporting on the Persian Gulf War for the first time addressed violations of the. The United Nations Human Rights Council, created at the World Summit to replace the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, has a mandate to investigate violations of human rights.

The Human Rights Council is a subsidiary body of the General Assembly [67] and reports directly to it.

The history of human rights

Human Rights in History Human Rights in History. Human rights emerged not in the s but the s, and on the ruins of prior dreams. The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is one such national institution, which derives its powers from the Constitution and the Human Rights Commission Act of It is also given additional powers and responsibilities by other national legislation.

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