International Human Rights

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled; such as civil and political rights, including the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; and economic, social and cultural rights.

The United Nations has played an important role in international human rights law since its creation.  Following the World Wars the United Nations and its members developed much of the discourse and the bodies of law which now make up international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the United Nations in December 1948, has over time been widely accepted as the fundamental norms of human rights that everyone should respect and protect. The UDHR, together with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights.

International human rights law lays down obligations which States are bound to respect. By becoming parties to such international treaties, States assume obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfill human rights.

Through ratification of international human rights treaties, Governments agree to put into place domestic measures and legislation compatible with their treaty obligations and duties.  Where domestic legal proceedings fail to address human rights abuses, mechanisms and procedures for individual complaints or communications are made available at the regional and international levels to ensure that international human rights standards are respected, implemented, and enforced without fail at the local level.


Inside International Human Rights