Why is it important to know our human rights?

Derechos humanos

Most of us are aware that we have human rights. However, not all of us know what they mean in a practical sense. How do human rights protect us? How do they interact with the law? And what happens when these are transgressed?

Today we are going to answer all these questions and more, helping you better understand how your human rights serve you, what is the story behind them and why they are so important.

How do we define human rights?

Human rights can be defined as fundamental rights that we all have, simply because we are human beings. They have only formally existed for about 200 years; Before then, there were no real laws to ensure that people were treated fairly regardless of their age, race, and gender.

Basically, human rights conventions, declarations and laws try to guarantee everyone fair treatment and protection against discrimination. All of them, regardless of where a person comes from, have 3 main attributes:

  1. Interdependent and indivisible: This means that all our human rights have the same status and no individual right is more important than another. Guaranteeing one human right is not the same as guaranteeing all of them, and the violation of one human right often violates others as well.
  2. Inalienable: This means that human rights are completely unconditional. They do not have to be bought, inherited or earned, and cannot be taken away for any reason, by any person or institution.
  3. Universal: This means that all human beings in the world have human rights. It is debatable whether this holds, but all states have a duty to protect the human rights of all their citizens.

What are all human rights?

The list established by the UN is extensive, but here we list 15 of them that will help you have a better understanding of your rights:


All humans are born equal.


No one should be treated like a slave


No one has the right to torture you


The Law is the same for everyone.


You can ask for legal help when the rights granted by your country are not respected.


You cannot be imprisoned without a legal reason.


You are innocent until proven guilty, you have the right to defend yourself, and you cannot be punished for someone else’s crime.


You have the right to enter and leave whenever you want within your country.


If someone hurts you, you can go to another country and ask for protection, unless you have committed a serious crime like murder.


You have the right to belong to a country.


You have the right to profess your religion freely.


You can think what you want and say what you want.


You have the right to work, to choose the type of work you do, and to be paid fairly.


You have the right to go to school.


You have the right to participate in the political affairs of your country and to vote.

Why are human rights so important?

Although human rights are a man-made invention with no natural basis, it cannot be argued that humans have sought freedom and equality for centuries. In ancient Babylon in 1750 BC, laws were written that included principles of justice and fairness. King Hammurabi of Babylon wrote that people should be protected by law and not be mistreated.

Of course, these were not the same as modern human rights: there was a definite hierarchy of order, and violent punishments were often meted out.

However, these ancient laws demonstrate that humans innately seek freedom, equality, and protection.

Therefore, the creation of a declaration of human rights appeals to some of the strongest human desires and allows people to feel safer, happier and freer.

One of the main reasons human rights are so important, as humanists argue in their open passage on human rights, is because they help protect vulnerable minorities from tyranny.

While dictators and oppressive governments still have a lot of power over vulnerable groups, human rights make it more difficult for them to commit crimes against humanity. Oppressive leaders often won’t want to risk making their country look bad.

On the tenth anniversary of the declaration of human rights, Eleanor Roosevelt delivered a speech titled Where Do Human Rights Begin? that she discussed why human rights are so important.

She said: “They are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood in which you live; the school or university you attend; the factory, farm or office where you work. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination”

What she means is that human rights make a difference even in the smallest areas of our lives, but these are the areas that make life worth living.

Some human rights are more visible than others. It is much easier for people to relate to rights like the right to vote or the right to a fair trial in a court of law.

These are often related to the roles of government and the democratic process. But some human rights are more fundamental and often unknown to the public.

For example, the right to health is one of the most important, but it is overlooked. Without medical care, people cannot meet their basic needs, like getting a good night’s sleep or not getting sick. They are also unable to contribute to their communities and may even die of preventable diseases.

Who has the responsibility to protect human rights?

Human rights connect us with each other through a shared set of rights and responsibilities.

A person’s ability to enjoy their human rights depends on other people respecting those rights. This means that human rights imply responsibility and duties towards other people and the community.

Individuals have a responsibility to ensure that they exercise their rights with the rights of others in mind. For example, when someone uses his right to freedom of expression, he must do so without interfering with the right to privacy.
of another person.

Governments have a responsibility to ensure that people can enjoy their rights. They are obliged to establish and maintain laws and services that enable people to enjoy a life in which their rights are respected and protected.

For example, the right to education says that everyone has the right to a good education. This means that governments have an obligation to provide good quality educational facilities and services to their population.

Whether or not governments actually do this, it is generally accepted that it is the responsibility of the authorities and that people can be held accountable if they fail to respect or protect their basic human rights.

What does human rights encompass?

Human rights cover virtually all areas of human activity.

They include civil and political rights, which refer to the rights of a person to participate in the democratic life of their community without discrimination or oppression.

The right to vote and to participate in the election of a government is a civil and political right.

They also include economic, social and cultural rights, which relate to a person’s rights to prosper, grow and participate in social and cultural activities.

The values of tolerance, equality and respect can help reduce friction within society. Putting human rights ideas into practice can help us create the kind of society we want to live in.

In recent decades, there has been an enormous growth in the way we think about and apply human rights ideas.

This has had many positive results: knowledge about human rights can empower people and offer solutions to specific problems.

Human rights are an important part of how people interact with others at all levels of society: in the family, the community, schools, the workplace, in politics and in international relations.

Therefore, it is essential that people around the world strive to understand what human rights are.

When people better understand human rights, it is easier for them to promote justice and the well-being of society.

Can they take away my human rights?

A person’s human rights cannot be taken away. In its final article, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes that no State, group or person has any right to carry out activities or carry out acts aimed at the suppression of any of the rights and freedoms set forth in it.

This does not mean that human rights abuses and violations do not occur. Sadly, on television and in the newspapers we hear tragic stories of murder, violence, racism, hunger, unemployment, poverty, abuse, homelessness, and discrimination.

However, the Universal Declaration and other human rights treaties are essential legal principles. To comply with their international human rights obligations, many countries have incorporated these principles into their own laws.

This gives people the opportunity to have a complaint resolved by a court in their own nation.

People in some countries can also file a complaint of human rights violations with a United Nations committee of experts, which will then issue an opinion.

Furthermore, education about human rights is just as important as having laws to protect people. Long-term progress can only really be achieved when people are aware of what human rights are and what standards exist.

Why is it important to know our human rights?

Human rights are important because no one should be abused or discriminated against and because everyone should have the opportunity to develop their talents. Sadly, many people around the world do not have these basic rights and freedoms.

What are the challenges facing human rights today?

Advocates around the world invoke the idea that such rights belong to everyone, no matter who they are or where they are.

But since humans can only exercise their rights in particular places, human rights are always and never universal.

This suggests that human rights are by no means universal and, in fact, conflict with some cultures and threaten their survival.

Violence against women and girls

The rights most often challenged on relativistic grounds are the rights of women and girls. For example, female genital mutilation occurs in different cultures in Africa, Asia, and South America.

It is not obligatory in any religion, but has become a tradition in many cultures around the world. However, much of the international community considers female genital mutilation to be a violation of the rights of women and girls. Therefore, it is prohibited in some countries.

The “birth lottery”

Another argument that can be moved is the so-called “birth lottery”. By ‘being born is a lottery’ we mean that how, when and where you are born, grow up and live determines many biographies.

These factors are so deeply and widely unequal, and inequalities can shape your entire life. How can human rights be universal, when there are still people living under dictatorships? When does the simple fact of having a certain passport
allows more freedom of movement than
other passports?

In this society, we are so strongly defined by our status, nationality, religion. Furthermore, national laws and cultures often interfere with those rights, the ones we simply should be entitled to as human beings.

freedom of movement

Freedom of movement is the right of people to travel from one place to another within the territory of a country. Additionally, it is the right to leave the country and return to it. Freedom of movement includes not only visiting places, but changing the place where the individual lives or works.

In fact, this right can be heavily undermined by the internal laws of national governments, our own citizenship, our status (for example: being under investigation or being convicted), non-citizen visa conditions that might restrict their movement, and plus.

In addition, if we do not have a valid identity document or passport, we lose our right to travel.

What can you do to defend human rights?

If you really want to help protect human rights, it’s important that you do your part.

An easy way to do this is to find a human right that you identify with, and then open a dialogue with friends and family to raise awareness and work to stop any type of violation.

Here are some ideas:

Learn more about current human rights crises. You can do this by consulting the work of international human rights and development organizations such as Amnesty International.

Sign petitions. There are often petitions to raise awareness of ongoing crises and put pressure on the people or governments responsible for them. Some of the main sites that host petitions are government pages, change.org and Youth for Human Rights.

– Volunteer or donate to a cause. Many organizations fight around the world to ensure that people have access to their rights. For example, UNICEF and Save the Children are two organizations focused on protecting children’s rights globally.


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© 2021 Mónica Castillo Arjona. Todos los derechos reservados.
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