Declaring our Human Rights Glossary

Accountability and Obligations: States have obligations and duties under international law to respect, protect and fulfill human rights. In this regard, they have to comply with the legal norms and standards enshrined in international human rights instruments, such as the UDHR. (OHCHR

Civil and Political Rights: A class of rights that protect individuals’ freedom from infringement by governments and private organizations and ensure one’s ability to participate in the civil and political life of the country without discrimination or repression. These include the right to life, the right to a fair hearing, and the right to privacy. (HRE USA) 

Declaration (in the international law context): Document stating agreed upon standards. In international law, a declaration is a statement of principle which states can sign onto, but which is not legally binding. (UNTC) 

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Rights that relate to socio-economic security. Rather than restraining governments, they obligate governments to take “progressive action” to respect, protect and fulfill human rights. These include the rights to housing, education, health, an adequate standard of living, and to participate in cultural life. (HRE USA) 

Equality and Non-discrimination: All individuals are equal as human beings and by virtue of the inherent dignity of each human person. Freedom from discrimination on any basis is what ensures this equality. (OHCHR

Human Rights: Rights we have simply because we exist as human beings – they are not granted by any state. These universal rights are inherent to us all, regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. They range from the most fundamental – the right to life – to those that make life worth living, such as the rights to food, education, work, health, and liberty. These rights are universal, inalienable, indivisible and interdependent. (OHCHR

Inalienable: The idea that rights should not be taken away from any person, except in specific situations and according to due process. For example, the right to liberty may be restricted if a person is found guilty of a crime by a court of law. (OHCHR

Indivisible: All human rights are of equal importance and cannot be positioned in a hierarchical order. Denial of one right invariably infringes on our enjoyment of other rights. (UNFPA) 

Interdependent: All human rights are interrelated. One set of rights cannot be enjoyed fully without the other. For example, making progress in civil and political rights makes it easier to exercise economic, social and cultural rights. (OHCHR

Participation and Inclusion: All people have the right to participate in and access information relating to the decision-making processes that affect their lives and well-being. (UNFPA) 

Universal: Applicable to or common to all members of a group or set. Relate equally to all human beings simply because we are born human. We are all equally entitled to our human rights. (OHCHR

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): The foundation document of the entire human rights framework, and a milestone document in the history of human rights. Sets out fundamental human rights to be universally protected. Contains 30 Articles that are widely recognized as having inspired, and paved the way for, the adoption of more than seventy human rights treaties, applied today on a permanent basis at global and regional levels. (UN)

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