Human rights laws

Because people believe that human rights are important, countries make laws to protect them. These laws say that governmentscannot take away people’s basic rights. They make sure people who take away other people’s rights are punished.

Some major political organizations have made statements that promote human rights. These are not laws, but they affect us anyway. If groups or countries do not follow these statements, others will condemn them (say that they are very bad); and then people may not talk with them, do business with them, or help them.


Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen approved by the National Assembly of France, August 26, 1789

Some of the important places that human rights laws are written is in constitutions. TheUnited States’ and France’s constitutions are two of the oldest set of laws based on human rights.

In 1948 the United Nations made the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is a widely respected document that says what the United Nations believes are human rights. It is not a law, but is the basis on which two important agreements are written:

  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

These are United Nations human rights Covenants: agreements between people or countries. The countries who sign these two covenants agree to follow them.

In addition to those Declaration and Covenants, there are many treaties and documents made by United Nations and other international organizations. Those treaties and documents are called “International human rights law“.

List of human rights

Not everyone agrees on what the basic human rights are. Here is a list of some of the most recognized ones:

The right to work

Human rights abuses

Abuse means to intentionally harm a person or people physically, mentally, emotionally, or verbally once or many times. Human rights abuse follows along similarly, also keeping in count the universal rights. Human rights abuse happens when a person is hurt in a way that violates (goes against) his/her human rights. Human rights abuses are also often called human rights violations.

Examples of human rights abuses or violations are:

  • Putting a person in jail because they said that the government is doing bad things
  • Taking a person’s home because they are from a different country
  • Not letting someone who is a citizen of a country vote because he or she is has the “wrong” kind of attribute as mentioned on top of article.
  • Violence toward someone because they have a (or any) religion, or a different religion to the one of the abuser.

And many more.

Many people, groups, and countries think protecting human rights is very important. But not everyone in the world believes in human rights. If people who do not believe in human rights have political power they can hurt many people. Even if these people have no political power, they can be violent to other people. There are many people who work to protect everyone’s human rights; some of these are government groups, and some are not with any government. They are sometimes called Human Rights Organizations.

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