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Human Rights

An introduction to international human rights

In December of 1948, the United Nations' General Assembly proclaimed their famous Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Ever since, civil rights and universal human rights have enjoyed a much higher profile, and cases of human rights abuses have been more swiftly denounced and more effectively acted against.

Human rights violations which are punishable by law are typically dealt with in international courts, usually under the supervision of the United Nations. Abuses occur whenever international human rights, as set forth by the Universal Declaration, are violated by a government, a corporation, or a group of citizens.

International Human Rights Common to All People

There are 30 different articles in the U.N. declaration, which cover a comprehensive range of human rights. The major highlights of the document include provisions that declare:

  • All human beings are born free and equal.
  • All people shall be free from discrimination based on race, gender, religion, social status and political status.
  • All people have the right to life, liberty and personal security.
  • Slavery, slave trades, torture and cruel or inhumane treatment are considered illegal by international law.
  • All people have the right to the protection of the law.
  • Arbitrary detention, exile and arrest are prohibited.
  • All people should be considered innocent of any crime of which they are accused until they are proven guilty in an unbiased court of law.

Human Rights Today

In developed countries, human rights are closely guarded and protected by the law. They are used as safeguards in everything from elder law and immigration law to criminal defense law and family law.

While the United Nations' declaration has won widespread praise, it is not a formal treaty and its terms have not been adopted or ratified by all its member nations. Unfortunately, human rights abuses are still perpetrated on a daily basis in many parts of the world. The declaration itself is usually used in cases where the application of diplomatic, political or economic pressure has a chance of resolving human rights violations. If you suspect a human rights violation may be occurring locally, you are urged to contact your local law enforcement officials.

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