This Article is written by Nandini Kansal (pursuing an LLB specialization in international law from amity university, Noida and active editor of Legalonus)
The concept of human rights as a subject gained momentum after world war two. Earlier it was just a concept that did not have its own value; however, there are many instances where human rights were protected. When the idea of natural law originated in Greek it was then people began to know their moral rights since then many theories emerged stating what is in law and what are rights.
Human rights are those rights that are inherent to every human regardless of gender, nationality, residence, place of birth, language, colour ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other status. These are rights provided to us just because we are humans, they are inalienable in nature.
Human Rights emerged ideally in the year 539 BC when Babylon was seized by the troops of Cyrus the Great, Cyrus let people choose their religion, gave them equal racial identities, and freed all the slaves. Many such principles of him were inscribed on a baked-clay cylinder which came to know as the Cyrus Cylinder, these Cyrus principles were the inspiration for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Another important event in history that paved the way for the development of human rights was the pronouncement of the Magna Charta in 1215 which defined the basic law of the land including rights and liberties to all persons, protection from indiscriminate trial and confinement. Today this principle forms the basis of modern democratic society.
Manga Carta principles are today a part of the English Bill of Rights Signed into law in 1689 by William III and Mary II the co-rulers of England. The English bill represents the constitutional and civil rights of the citizens and also gave powers to monarchs. Many theorists believe at the English Bill of Rights was the principal law that set the stage for a monarchy rule in England.
During the French revolution, France’s National Assembly overthrew the monarchy rule and adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, 1789 which entails principles of human dignity, liberty, and freedom for all people in opposition to oppression, the main idea behind the Declaration was that all “men are born free and have equal rights”. Other principles are freedom of religion, freedom to profess any occupation within law and order, no one should be arrested in an un-judicial manner, and every man should have a right to participate in legislation directly or indirectly. The concept of private property emerged.
These rights were generally political and civil in nature also known as first-generation rights which states that people have rights over their policy-making and are not subjected to arbitrary powers of government. Expanding the concept of personal liberty and intervention in state governance over them.
The modern concept of human rights can be seen in form of fundamental rights in every country’s law which came with the independence of many countries. The acceptance that every individual has certain rights to the virtues of humankind and morality and every human is entitled to it fairly without any discrimination stems from the evolution of human dignity over the last few eras.
In the late 19th century and early 20s the restriction on slavery and slave trade, freedom of colonies by the west, and limiting the devastation of war was major improvement towards the achievement of human rights. Momentous was the implementation of the first three Geneva Conventions and the Hague Conventions which expressed deep concerns to protect human rights and promote more human dignity and respect towards others and not to resort to war as it leads to devastation and many causalities.
The modern concept of humanitarian law rests upon these conventions, humanitarian law today covers not just political and civil right but also address issues such as women’s right, child right, minority rights, labour rights, and more.
During the first world war, the league of nations addressed the rights of workers against employers’ harsh work environment, and to protect the worker from exploitation at the hands of employers the league of the nation created the International Labour Organization (ILO) to administer agreements guarding workers with respect to their rights, counting their health safety and wages, which increased the constructive approach toward the acknowledgment of the significance of Human Rights as we know them today.
The ending of world war two with the defeat of Nazi human rights gain prominence because what the Nazis did to Jews, Sinti and gypsies, homosexuals, persons with disabilities and other communities brought horrors to the world, he killed over six million people. The idea of human rights since then strongly emerged was for the first time terms like a crime against humanity and crimes against peace was introduced in Trials held in Nuremberg and Tokyo.
Governments devoted themselves to forming of United Nations with the primary objective of preventing international peace and conflict, ensuring a safe environment for human development rather than destruction the world has seen horrors of war which brought famine poverty, and a poor economy. People wanted to safeguard their rights and freedom
United nation in 1945 stated in their preamble of un charter that the objective of the UN is to protect people from the scourge of war, which the world has already faced twice, it reaffirms trust in fundamental human rights, to protect the dignity of human mankind, give equal rights to men and women without any discrimination. Maintaining justice and respect for international law arising from conventions and other obligations directive to uphold social development and improved standards of life in larger freedom.
The first article of the UN charter states that state “should achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”
Later UN adopted a commission on human rights to promote and full fill the agenda of the UN to provide basic human rights to all humans. After three years UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 guided by Eleanor Roosevelt’
The deceleration was internationally accepted and recognized, its first article states that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” UDHR looks after how a state’s government treats its people which is now a matter of international concern, not just a domestic issue.
About the publisher: