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Human Rights...and Responsibilities

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 12 Aug 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Human Rights Responsibilities Uk Un Laws

The laws in the UK recognise that all people have fundamental human rights. These rights apply regardless of race, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation or other differences a person may have.

The rights do not have to be earned and are generally not lost on account of an individual's behaviour. For example, the fundamental human right not to be tortured is deemed to be universal and absolute. This means that there is no situation in which torture can be justified. The actions of the individual are, for these purposes, irrelevant. However, not all of these fundamental human rights are absolute or unlimited. For example, the right to freedom may be lost where an individual is convicted of a criminal offence resulting in a custodial sentence.

Who Has Responsibility for Upholding Human Rights?

The concept of fundamental and universal human rights raises the question as to who is responsible for ensuring that these rights are upheld. The United Nations (UN) monitors human rights in countries all over the world and deems responsibility for upholding human rights to lie primarily with national governments. A 1998 Declaration stressed the importance of this, but also recognised that individuals and organisations may also have responsibilities for upholding and promoting human rights. The Declaration was , at least in part, intended to protect human rights campaigners from persecution and also recognises the right of an individual to uphold human rights.

Do Human Rights Come with Responsibilities?

Generally, UK laws do not explicitly place a responsibility on private individuals to uphold the human rights of others. However, laws governing other issues may implicitly contain a prohibition on breaching an individual's human rights. For example, the laws against killing another person or stealing their property inherently contain a prohibition against breaching the associated human rights. Even if there is no law that specifically forces one individual to uphold the human rights of another, it does not necessarily mean that there is absolutely no reciprocal responsibility that comes with human rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was issued by the UN in the wake of the Second World War. Three years after the end of the war, the world was still struggling to respond to the gross barbarity committed by human beings against other human beings during the war. In issuing the Declaration the UN sought to have its members arrive at a consensus on the basic human rights considered universal to all people.

The prime responsibility for upholding these rights was placed squarely on the member states themselves. However, the UN also called on member states to ensure that the Declaration was widely publicised – particularly in schools and educational establishments. This, surely, would have served two purposes: to make individuals aware of their own rights but also of the rights of those around them.

By being made aware, from an early age, that rights apply equally to all an individual may be encouraged to take responsibility for upholding the rights of others. Further, for a civilised society to function, it could be said that individuals should take responsibility for their own behaviour and the effect it has on others - at the same time as protecting their own human rights.

Arguments Against Human Rights Without Responsibilities

We hear more and more about human rights today – with critics of the current UK human rights law being just as vociferous as those seeking to uphold the rights contained in the existing legislation. The reciprocal responsibilities necessary for a humane society can sometimes be lost in the argument. One of the criticisms levelled against the UK's Human Rights Act – which brought European human rights law directly into effect in the UK – is that it does not specifically set out the responsibilities expected of individuals.

A delicate balance must clearly be struck if all people are to enjoy the benefits of living in a society which recognises the importance of fundamental human rights. There is more to this than trying to use human rights as a “get out of jail free” card or to assume that human rights law is only there to protect people who have breached other laws. However, if some human rights are considered to be fundamental and absolute there can be no automatic qualification that they are only absolute if certain conditions are satisfied.

The arguments for and against human rights laws will, undoubtedly, rage on. Meanwhile, the silent majority will probably be quietly happy that their human rights are upheld and continue to respect the human rights of those around them.

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Hi I am here to know some information that my husband is a oversea student. He obtained Masters in2011 from here and completed Accainmay of this year. I am dependent on him and we have a 8 years old son. Our visa is going to run out in this November. In the meantime I I gave birth a stillborn baby on 28th june of this year. Now I want to know is there any way to apply for stay here because I burried my 7 month old unborn daughter here and at the moment my heart is completely breakdown. It's really difficult for me leave this country. Actually I can't explain my feelings how we are going through after losing our baby. So I want to know is there any rights to apply for the stay in here.
Liza - 12-Aug-17 @ 11:07 AM
I have big issue with social services they got granted court order to have my son in foster care he's a four month year old child he has a dad who wants to care for him but being held by Home office cos ran out visa I have border line personality disorder moderate learning difficulties and emotional behavioural disorder they say I can't parent him alone I need urgent help for my partner to get released to have family life with me and is son his first son ever and I feel I have him an rights to be a family they say he could be main carer but detained he can't go bk to Sierra Leone he has no accommodation he started life in London with me and as a son four months old who he wishes to raise pls help me with free legal aid to get him out to have my family bk pls
Rach - 12-Mar-17 @ 3:57 PM
Good evening Sir/Ma. I had problem with UK border agency since 2011. I entered UK from 2005-to 2011. I came to the UK with visitor visa(6months) and I overstayed my visa.I met my husband in the uk,its was after a year we met each other,we decided to be living together in the uk.And My cousin is having Germany national residents.he took me to a solicitor,i he used his national for me to apply under his nationality as (Dependant)we didn't know that the solicitor add 5other people to my application, the application was refused, appeal was given.I went to another solicitor with my husband and my cousin, he advice us to forget about the dependant. The other Solicitor now advised us(myself and my husband)that I can put in an application CERTIFICATE OF APPROVALS FOR MARRIAGE, since my husband is a British national. The Solicitor applied on my behave,the approval was approved. We both went to the registry,separate interview was taken for over two hours at end of the day,marriage date was given.20 minutes to the wedding time,immigration officers enter the venue, I was asked series of questions and it was answered correctly. At end of the day the immigration office that lead them told me and visitors that,they have been in our house 3times without our knowledge, they saw myself and my husband in the same attires 2times and different one once.After everything I was arrested, and I was told that they arrested me because I overstayed my visa,that I have to go back to my country for my wedding. I was detained for 44days before I voluntary leave UK,my husband bought my ticket.The letter was writing that they knew we are husband and wife. They advice that my husband can leave UK and come and stay with me. since then I had been applied for settlement visa 2times now and the application was refused,and appeal was given. The appeal was refused again.My husband has been ups and doing since then,he has been visited in Nigeria 4times now.Now I am pregnant. My solicitor has taken the case to court again.
abbey - 5-Nov-16 @ 8:32 PM
Hi there, I've entered in the UK in 2009 as as a student via tier 4 PBS route. My visa expired in 2012 and when tried to apply for an extension I have been denied twice on the grounds that my level of English was not good enough though my ielts Over all score was 7.. I did not apply for an appeal due to lack of funds and was prepared to go home, however, circumstances have changed due to financial issue back at home, I needed to stay and earn. Because of the visa issue, I wasn't able to finish my studies and this has caused me depression and low self steem. I am determined to finish my studies and found a way to do it without going to a school. Back at home, it is impossible to get a decent job and salary without qualification what are my grounds to legalized my stay? Appriciate your advice. Cheers!
Sher - 16-Sep-16 @ 9:51 PM
Hello I been asylum in 2003 I was refused by home office and I was deported to back home in came back the same year and I'm still here 13 years ago I'm illegal in this country I have no idea what to do too tired It's too hard Please help me if I anybody can help me out thanks
Ali - 5-Sep-16 @ 11:57 PM
Gerry - Your Question:
Good evening, I have for over the last 12 months been trying to get my ILR sorted out however due to lack of funds and paperwork error it has been ongoing. I have been in the UK since December 2009 on an ancestry Visa which has now expired.Understandably my right to work was revoked so I have been living off the charity and kindess of my Girlfriend and best friend. However things are becoming very strained supporting me I have no place to live as I cant pay rent as I have no work. I have no access to public funds and there for have no way to live, I am affraid I will be left with no way to feed myself or have a roof over my head is there any way I can receice health until the fate of my ILR is determined?

Our Response:
Ancestry extension visa usually only takes 8 weeks for process. Have you found out why it's taking so long?
AboutHumanRights - 12-Feb-16 @ 11:47 AM
Good evening, I have for over the last 12 months been trying to get my ILR sorted out however due to lack of funds and paperwork error it has been ongoing. I have been in the UK since December 2009 on an ancestry Visa which has now expired. Understandably my right to work was revoked so I have been living off the charity and kindess of my Girlfriend and best friend. However things are becoming very strained supporting me I have no place to live as I cant pay rent as I have no work. I have no access to public funds and there for have no way to live, I am affraid I will be left with no way to feed myself or have a roof over my head is there any way I can receice health until the fate of my ILR is determined?
Gerry - 9-Feb-16 @ 5:30 PM
HI I BEEN TO UK 2000 AND WE DETAINED IN 2008 MY SON IS BORN THEREWE OVERSTAYED IF UK WANTED TO REMOVE US WHY NOT IN 2000 WHY AFTER 8YRS MY SON IS NOW 5YRS GIVE ME ADVISEHOW TO SURVIVE NOTHING WE COULDGET HERE WHY AFTER 8YRS I WANT AN ANSWER . MY SON BORN IN UK PRETERM BECAUSE OF DOCTORS FAULT I WAS QUITE BUT I AM FACING PROBLEMS WHAT SHOULD I DO, BY GOD GRACE MY SON IS NORMAL NO PROBLEM WITH HIS PSYCHCAL I WANT ANANSWER
kavita - 2-Jan-13 @ 2:06 AM
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