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What are Human Rights? The Basic Facts

By: Liz Lennox - Updated: 1 May 2018 | comments*Discuss
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A Professor once told me that there is no such thing as an objective argument, everything we do, say or think is automatically coloured by our life experiences and therefore subject to our own opinions - no-one can be truly independent.

In a similar way, any discussion on the basic facts of human rights will be coloured by the speaker. A religious speaker will talk in terms of right to worship and the specific teachings of their holy scripture; a political speaker will discuss the issue in terms of global dynamics and the needs of society. Anyone legally trained will talk in terms of The Human Rights Act and the European Court OF Human Rights. I think the facts are an amalgamation of all these different points of view and come down to basic human needs.

In today’s society it isn’t long before some problem is said to be a ‘human rights’ issue. People see human rights in diversely different ways, from the travellers’ right to roam to the landowners’ right to eject them from their property; the woman’s right to have an abortion to the unborn child’s right to life. It seems that the set of principles called HUMAN RIGHTS is often the convenient battering ram or get-out clause. I think that the answer to the question is much simpler: Family.

The Human Family

As members of our own family we have, if we are lucky, people that surround us, love us and protect us. We may also be part of a larger, but equally close-knit, community, where everyone knows everyone else. After that we are a part of our society, local and national. We have rights to vote, rights of expression and personal freedom. Over and above all of this, we are a part of the human family. We are all members of the human race, with our many and varied lifestyles and beliefs. We are essentially one colossal family, with all of the responsibilities that come with it.

You may be thinking at this point that I am putting a religious or philosophical spin on the issue; I’m not. This is a simple fact, as I see it.

Whenever human rights issues are brought forward they are always contested, with both sides vehemently arguing that the law should be applied in their favour. This is part of being a family, there are two sides to every argument and both have an equal right to be heard. Of course this also means that one side must either concede to the other or lose the argument. The very fact that, as a society we have the right to argue in the first place is one of the most basic tenets of human rights, that is freedom of speech.

Basic Needs

In a world where millions are starving and dying of preventable disease, it is all too easy to forget that these people, whose lives are not as blessed with technology and money as ours, still have the basic rights that we take for granted; food, housing, health, education and work, to name but a few. Why is it then that these needs cannot be met from within their own shores? Why is it that western countries are needed to help them bring themselves up to the basic standards that we are so used to? I am not a political commentator, nor am I an activist, I simply say it as I see it.

The Need for Cohesion

So what exactly are the basic facts of human rights? Simply put they are the essential needs that society, and we as members of that society, are required to provide for each other and ourselves. Any authority that seeks to deprive us of the opportunity or the ability to provide those rights is in breach of its responsibility under The Human Rights Act. They require that all people, all human beings, have a right to survive, provide, and be free from discrimination, oppression or slavery. They also give us the right to protest.

However, as with everything there is a proviso, our right to have these needs and rights met is always tempered by the idea that our exercising those rights does not infringe on someone else’s rights. This is where the majority of arguments come from, someone perceives that their rights have been breached by the actions of another, often unintentionally.

This is where our human rights are most important, they give us our basic freedom, while ensuring that our most basic needs are met by those that seek to run the country we call home.

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Surely my health is being affected as soon I'll be unable to get upstairs to wash myself (currently I can just about flannel bathe). So soon I wont be able to get to work, but I'll probably be dead from a fall.
houndofculaine - 2-Dec-15 @ 2:45 AM
I'm a 46 year old male, who still works, even though I was diagnosed with PPMS in 2010. My health has rapidly deteriorated and I am now mainly confined to a wheelchair. But I live in my own property (well mortgage so partly mine, partly the bank) which doesn't have wheelchair access, or the space to move a wheelchair about. So I crawl about the ground floor. But as my lower is mainly numb I can't crawl up the stairs so I get up the stairs to our bedroom and only toilet by standing using the bannisters and dragging myself up. I have fallen down the stairs twice, mainly bruising and a couple of broken ribs. But one day I'll topple and break my neck. I'm desperately trying to find a bungalow for me, my spouse and five year old daughter. But they are either unsuitable or way out of our price range. I applied to the council for assistance adapting or moving to a suitable property. But have been told that because I work id need to find £37k before they'll help. Whilst I could afford such a loan, I'm unlikely to be working much longer. So would more than likely default and have the house I've spent 20 years paying a mortgage repossessed. Surely its discriminatory to expect someone so ill to have to fund major adaptations just to live? I feel this is mainly due to the UK Government removing the centralised adaptations fund, and placing it with local authorities who means test such needs to the point I'm better off giving up working and get everything paid for me, and ill no longer pay taxes to support the community. I've even tried some charities for help. And they means test too. How is this fair? I need help to live and to be able to contribute to society. Is this a case of my human rights being abused?
houndofculaine - 2-Dec-15 @ 2:34 AM
@blighted. You'd need to seek advice from a human rights lawyer here. Your basic rights are of food, housing, health, education and work are not really being infringed, so there'd have to be an alternative angle from which to approach it.
AboutHumanRights - 25-Feb-15 @ 11:38 AM
A community in North Yorkshire UK are to have their lives blighted by fracking for shale gas. There are no restrictions as to how far away residences are to be from drilling well heads. The productive rural land is to be made into an industrial brown field site and property reduced in value by at least 30% (this originally in a government paper but later redacted) Local councillors obeying the Conservative government whip will not vote for at least a moratorium, they also said that they could not vote against the development for fear of being sued. There seems no democracy. If our worse fears are realised, and life is intolerable and we are unable to sell our properties would we be able to take our case to the EU Courts of Human Rights?
blighted - 23-Feb-15 @ 12:18 PM
my father in law was refused a glass of water even after tell the police officer he needed it because of the cancer treatment he had had when he tryed to have a drink he was arrseted then left for hours without water wer his human rights denied ?
dianna - 31-Dec-13 @ 11:50 AM
sir i m searching the origen of human rights i have reaDmany journals and many more books but i m not satisfied so can you help me in this regard thanks
sameer - 23-Oct-13 @ 8:39 AM
Awesome thank you for the information you've gave us a lot :D
Snowy - 1-Jan-13 @ 12:08 PM
hi i am doing a web site on human rights so people can learn more about them, and this has helped me
carrot - 1-Jul-12 @ 4:30 AM
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