What Are Human Rights?

Photo by Patricia Williams

Human rights are:

  • The rights a person has simply because he or she is a human being.
  • Held by all persons equally, universally and forever.
  • Inalienable: you cannot lose these rights any more than you can cease being a human being.
  • Indivisible: you cannot be denied a right because it is “less important” or “non-essential.”
  • Interdependent: all human rights are part of a complementary framework. For example, your ability to participate in your government is directly affected by your right to express yourself, to get an education, and even to obtain the necessities of life.

Another definition for human rights is those basic standards without which people cannot live in dignity, freedom, equality or justice. To violate someone’s human rights is to treat that person as though she or he were not a human being. To advocate for human rights is to demand that the human dignity of all people be respected.

Learn more about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the official United Nations website.

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