Human Rights: A Historical Perspective on Fundamental Rights

Just like the phoenix, human rights emerged from the ashes and ruins of the world. The beginning of human rights as a revolution is said to be in the late 19th and the whole of the 20th century. However, from ancient texts and research, we can gather that the first time human rights were talked about was back in 539 BC. This is when the armies of Cyrus the great captured ancient Persian lands only to free the slaves and establish equality. This significant historical act provided a basis for today’s human rights decrees.

But what exactly are human rights? You could go through the streets to ask people, or text them (thanks to technological advances). But, would you get the same answer? I don’t think so. In fact, the more people you talk to, the more answers you will get; the more diversity you will find in people’s views about this sensitive topic.

According to the United Nations, humans rights are rights that are ingrained in all human societies, by them being humans. No matter what nationality, residence, gender, caste, creed, ethnicity, color, religion, or even language and your social status; we are all equal.

Your Rights as a Human are Indivisible

Officially, human rights were first introduced to the world by the United Nations by their declaration in 1948, while the world was still coping with the ruins of the World War II. The atrocities people, especially Jews, suffered at the hands of the Nazis, led by Adolf Hitler, were the ashes and ruins from which the rights emerged. It was on December 10th 1948 that the General Assembly came together to give life to a comprehensive document regarding inalienable human rights.

In fact, the whole idea of the United Nations being formed in 1945, was because the world was overwhelmed after the acts of the second world war. The primary goal was to counter injustice, denied life, restrictions, and problems related to food and shelter. These issues were prevalent everywhere. The United Nations was formed to ensure the world would wake up to freedom, liberty and broken chains.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The members of the United Nations came together, to draft and adopt legalities that would eventually free humans of all ills in society, and to cater to the needs of humans to be morally respected by each other. They pledged to promote human respect and dignity and even established a separate commission to follow up on this goal. The meaning of fundamental rights and liberty were framed for the first time, officially, for the world to acknowledge. The commission, under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt, became famous within a very brief period.

Eight member states were very close to abstaining the declaration from being passed. However, in the end, the vote to adopt this revolutionary Declaration of Human rights was unanimous. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, also known as Magna Carta, internationally, brought the Governments of different countries under scrutiny regarding the treatment of their citizens. Therefore, these matters were not just domestic anymore; they were brought under international blankets, owing to the efforts of the Declaration.

Spreading Human Rights Across the World

After its passing, it was made compulsory for the Declaration to be publicised in every country. They did so through various media, educational seminars, schools, colleges, and other institutions, without barring anyone from accessing the crucial information.

The declaration of Human Rights tends to recognize the inherent dignity of the human species. This dignity is not just an adjective here, but a metaphor for freedom, justice, and peace, in all parts of the world. The declaration was made to ensure that these human rights are not limited to any geographical boundary. They are universal and practiced by all humans, everywhere.

The milestone document, the declaration, is comprised of thirty articles, all from a civil as well as a political point of view, of which some are as follows:

  • Right to life
  • Liberty
  • Freedom of speech
  • Privacy
  • Rights for economic, social and cultural equality.
  • Safety against slavery
  • Right to education, medical care, leisure
  • Freedom to practice desired religion

The declaration of human rights, though, is of a universal nature. However, it did not create any legal obligations for any country, or any particular individual. It is more like an expression of values that are and should be fundamentally ingrained in humans. Without these laws, the development of the world would be jeopardized. Today, it is accepted in almost every corner of the world and has been known as the most translated document in the world.

About Saumya Khanduja

A cat lover, a book lover, and a beach lover: Saumya is all shades of being human. A sociology graduate from India, who spends most of her time writing. Outside the realm of the web, she loves cooking, sketching, and listening to the cello. A Game Of Thrones enthusiast, she might be small, but can "slay" you!

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