Talk:Human rights/Archive 1

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philosophy of human rights

This needs rewritinghi. There is no point in discussing the types of human rights before giving an account of their existence, which is where the real philosophcal meat lies. so im goign to do this over the next day or so if my changes don't get reverted straight away Tommo 87 20:09, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

Citing sources

Edits by

Can someone take a look at's edits (see here) for NPOV? --InShaneee 04:49, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I reverted those edits, as they were basically an expression of that editor's personal beliefs. Mateo SA | talk 05:59, Jan 23, 2005 (UTC)

Doing some research for this article

The contributors to this article need to do some actual research, not just write about their personal beliefs. Someone needs to actually read some books and other sources and specifically cite them. This article as it is now is a jumbled set of unsubstantiated claims and disconnected topics. Many of the claims are dubious and confused, such as the bald statement that rights are divided into positive and negative rights (that is only one way of classifying those concepts).

In particular, someone needs to find the specific definition of the term "rights"; also, research the various concepts of "civil rights", "human rights", "positive" and "negative" rights, and determine how and whether those terms differ from each other.

Mateo SA | talk 05:59, Jan 23, 2005 (UTC)

How do human rights relate to civil rights, a phrase that Americans tend to prefer? --Robert Merkel

"civil rights" are not negative. Since the USA rejects the doctrine of positive human rights, and since some positive rights are necessary in a pseudo-democratic society, it's invented a category called "civil rights" to take up the slack.

Human rights are rights you have through being human. Civil rights are rights you have through being a member of a society. Loosely. DJ Clayworth 18:32, 6 Apr 2004 (UTC)

"Within the modern American liberal political culture"

Isn't this a little Americo-centric? What about European human rights law?

The word "liberal" may be a bit difficult to understand for non-Americans in that context. In the US, it means, grossly speaking, left-wing, but in Europe it may mean right-wing proponents of laissez-faire economics. I've included a link to disimbiguate the word. David.Monniaux 17:27, 25 Sep 2003 (UTC)


Though civil rights and human rights are regarded as interchangeable, IMO there is a clear distinction.

That is - civil rights arise from citizenship. Human rights derive from one's status as a human being.

Example - the right to vote in a United States presidential election is a civil right that should be available to all US citizens. It is not a "human right", so as a Brit I can't invoke it, even if temporarily living in the USA.

The right to freedom from servitude is a human right. It MAY be enshrined in the constitution or laws of a country, but is not dependent on that.

Well, that's my view - anyone care to comment or disagree?

I'm not sure I can add this to the article unless it's a widely held view.

Exile 15:51, 3 Aug 2004 (UTC)

"The right to freedom from servitude is a human right. It MAY be enshrined in the constitution or laws of a country, but is not dependent on that." Not in the US, there are two US exceptions (1) prisoners convicted of a crime and sentenced to serve (2) members of the military. So do murderers have a "human right" to freedom, or is it a "civil right" taken for cause? Raggz 22:09, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

Since the end of World War II human rights has become a major issue in world politics and human rights violations caused many conflicts in the post-Cold War era. The UN has played a central role in the process of globalizing human rights. The Charter of the United Nations became the first international law treaty to be built on universal respect for human rights (Boutros-Ghali 1995). In the UN Charter, one of the main purposes of the United Nations is to promote and encourage respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction such as race, religion, sex or language. Thus, the United Nations has become the central actor for the international protection of human rights. For instance, the UN tried to give a further impulse with the world conference against racism August 2001 in Durban, South Africa.--Alibektas 23:26, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

I don't buy the distinction that human rights apply to all humans, but civil rights only apply to citizens. A better abstraction for me is that natural rights never require infringing anybody else's rights, but civil rights (by definition) require infringing one person's rights to give benefit to another person. -O^O

Libertarian no doubt. Who mentioned "natural rights"? In what way are someone else's rights violated by me having the civil right to vote or to be free from, for example, illegal taxes?Sorry, civil rights DO relate to citizenship and include the right to reside in a country, vote, benefit from whatever other rights are common to citizens of a country. That is, my civil rights are not violated if as a British citizen I am expelled from the USA. As long as this was done in accordance with US law I couldn't claim abuse of my civil rights - as a foreigner I don't have any. My human rights would be violated if I was tortured when in custody or sold into slavery - even if for some reason this was legal under US law.

14:18, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

List of racial discriminations in Malaysia, practiced by government as well as government agencies. This list is an open secret. Best verified by government itself because it got the statistics.

This list is not in the order of importance, that means the first one on the list is not the most important and the last one on the list does not mean least important.

This list is a common knowledge to a lot of Malaysians, especially those non-malays (Chinese, Ibans, Kadazans, Orang Asli, Tamils, etc) who were being racially discriminated.

Figures in this list are estimates only and please take it as a guide only. Government of Malaysia has the most correct figures. Is government of Malaysia too ashamed to publish their racist acts by publishing racial statistics?

This list cover a period of about 49 years since independence (1957).

List of racial discriminations (Malaysia):

(1) Out of all the 5 major banks, only one bank is multi-racial, the rest are controlled by malays

(2) 99% of Petronas directors are malays

(3) 3% of Petronas employees are Chinese

(4) 99% of 2000 Petronas gasoline stations are owned by malays

(5) 100% all contractors working under Petronas projects must be bumis status

(6) 0% of non-malay staffs is legally required in malay companies. But there must be 30% malay staffs in Chinese companies

(7) 5% of all new intake for government army, nurses, polices, is non-malays

(8) 2% is the present Chinese staff in Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF), drop from 40% in 1960

(9) 2% is the percentage of non-malay government servants in Putrajaya. But malays make up 98%

(10) 7% is the percentage of Chinese government servants in the whole government (in 2004), drop from 30% in 1960

(11) 95% of government contracts are given to malays

(12) 100% all business licensees are controlled by malay government e.g. Approved permits, Taxi permits, etc

(13) 80% of the Chinese rice millers in Kedah had to be sold to malay controlled Bernas in 1980s. Otherwise, life is make difficult for Chinese rice millers

(14) 100 big companies set up, owned and managed by Chinese Malaysians were taken over by government, and later managed by malays since 1970s e.g. MISC, UMBC, UTC, etc

(15) At least 10 Chinese owned bus companies (throughout Malaysia, throughout 40 years) had to be sold to MARA or other malay transport companies due to rejection by malay authority to Chinese application for bus routes and rejection for their application for new buses

(16) 2 Chinese taxi drivers were barred from driving in Johor Larkin bus station. There are about 30 taxi drivers and 3 are Chinese in October 2004. Spoiling taxi club properties was the reason given

(17) 0 non-malays are allowed to get shop lots in the new Muar bus station (November 2004)

(18) 8000 billion ringgit is the total amount the government channeled to malay pockets through ASB, ASN, MARA, privatisation of government agencies, Tabung Haji etc, through NEP over 34 years period

(19) 48 Chinese primary schools closed down since 1968 - 2000

(20) 144 Indian primary schools closed down since 1968 - 2000

(21) 2637 malay primary schools built since 1968 - 2000

(22) 2.5% is government budget for Chinese primary schools. Indian schools got only 1%, malay schools got 96.5%

(23) While a Chinese parent with RM1000 salary (monthly) cannot get school-text-book-loan, a malay parent with RM2000 salary is eligible

(24) 10 all public universities vice chancellors are malays

(25) 5% - the government universities lecturers of non-malay origins had been reduced from about 70% in 1965 to only 5% in 2004

(26) Only 5% is given to non-malays for government scholarships over 40 years

(27) 0 Chinese or Indians were sent to Japan and Korea under "Look East Policy"

(28) 128 STPM Chinese top students could not get into the course that they aspired e.g. Medicine (in 2004)

(29) 10% place for non-bumi students for MARA science schools beginning from year 2003, but only 7% are filled. Before that it was 100% malays

(30) 50 cases whereby Chinese and Indian Malaysians, are beaten up in the National Service program in 2003

(31) 25% is Malaysian Chinese population in 2004, drop from 45% in 1957

(32) 7% is the present Malaysian Indians population (2004), a drop from 12% in 1957

(33) 2 million Chinese Malaysians had emigrated to overseas since 40 years ago

(34) 0.5 million Indian Malaysians had emigrated to overseas

(35) 3 million Indonesians had migrated into Malaysia and became Malaysian citizens with bumis status

(36) 600000 are the Chinese and Indian Malaysians with red IC and were rejected repeatedly when applying for citizenship for 40 years. Perhaps 60% of them had already passed away due to old age. This shows racism of how easily Indonesians got their citizenships compare with the Chinese and Indians

(37) 5% - 15% discount for a malay to buy a house, regardless whether the malay is poor or rich

(38) 2% is what Chinese new villages get compare with 98% of what malay villages got for rural development budget

(39) 50 road names (at least) had been changed from Chinese names to other names

(40) 1 Dewan Gan Boon Leong (in Malacca) was altered to other name (e.g. Dewan Serbaguna or sort) when it was being officially used for a few days. Government try to shun Chinese names. This racism happened in around year 2000 or sort

(41) 0 churches/temples were built for each housing estate. But every housing estate got at least one mosque/surau built

(42) 3000 mosques/surau were built in all housing estates throughout Malaysia since 1970. No churches, no temples are required to be built in housing estates

(43) 1 Catholic church in Shah Alam took 20 years to apply to be constructed. But told by malay authority that it must look like a factory and not look like a church. Still not yet approved in 2004

(44) 1 publishing of Bible in Iban language banned (in 2002)

(45) 0 of the government TV stations (RTM1, RTM2, TV3) are directors of non-malay origins

(46) 30 government produced TV dramas and films always showed that the bad guys had Chinese face, and the good guys had malay face. You can check it out since 1970s. Recent years, this tendency becomes less

(47) 10 times, at least, malays (especially Umno) had threatened to massacre the Chinese Malaysians using May 13 since 1969

(48) 20 constituencies won by DAP would not get funds from the government to develop. Or these Chinese majority constituencies would be the last to be developed

(49) 100 constituencies (parliaments and states) had been racistly re-delineated so Chinese voters were diluted that Chinese candidates, particularly DAP candidates lost in election since 1970s

(50) Only 3 out of 12 human rights items are ratified by Malaysia government since 1960

(51) 0 - elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (UN Human Rights) is not ratified by Malaysia government since 1960s

(52) 20 reported cases whereby malay ambulance attendances treated Chinese patients inhumanely, and malay government hospital staffs purposely delay attending to Chinese patients in 2003. Unreported cases may be 200

(53) 50 cases each year whereby Chinese, especially Chinese youths being beaten up by malay youths in public places. We may check at police reports provided the police took the report, otherwise there will be no record

(54) 20 cases every year whereby Chinese drivers who accidentally knocked down malays were seriously assaulted or killed by malays

(55) 12% is what ASB/ASN got per annum while banks fixed deposit is only about 3.5% per annum

There are hundreds more racial discriminations in Malaysia to add to this list of "colossal" racism. It is hope that the victims of racism will write in to expose racism.

Malaysia government should publish statistics showing how much malays had benefited from the "special rights" of malays and at the same time tell the statistics of how much other minority races are being discriminated.

Hence, the responsibility lies in the Malaysia government itself to publish unadulterated statistics of racial discrimination.

If the Malaysia government hides the statistics above, then there must be some evil doings, immoral doings, shameful doings and sinful doings, like the Nazi, going on onto the non-malays of Malaysia.

Civilized nation, unlike evil Nazi, must publish statistics to show its treatment on its minority races. This is what Malaysia must publish.

We are asking for the publication of the statistics showing how "implementation of special rights of malays" had inflicted colossal racial discrimination onto non-malays.

Positive / Negative

Isn't it POV to introduce the -ve / +ve distinction in rights as a statement of fact? -- Tarquin 17:03, 14 Aug 2004 (UTC)

It's very important to note that human rights are philosophical, legal and political. Philosophically, it is possible to distinguish between civil rights and human rights. However, legally it is not. Legally, the civil rights you are talking about are part of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (and are thus 1st-generation human rights). The right to freedom from servitude (slavery)is one of very few internationally recognised laws (with genocide and piracy), with universal jurisdiction-- thus if there's slavery anywhere at anytime, any state can intervene. So it goes beyond human rights, which should still be guaranteed by the state.

The US has been very slow to ratify any human rights documents, even the ones it has drafted. BUT The United States is a party to the following human rights treaties: Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime to Genocide (entry into force: 1951, US ratification: 1989), International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (entry into force: 1976, US ratification: 1992), The Convention against Torture (entry into force: 1984, US ratification: 1994) and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (entry into force: 1969, US ratification: 1994).

The US has not ratified The Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (entry into force: 1976), The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (entry into force: 1981) The Convention on the Rights of the Child (entry into force: 1989) or the Rome Statute for International Criminal Court (entry into force: 2002).

Thus whether the US upholds human rights is also a question of whether the US upholds its legal commitments.

Finally, the division into positive and negative rights, should be seen as a convenient tool for analysis, not an absolute division. --Mekri 08:31, 29 Sep 2004 (UTC)

...that rights arise from natural law. This theory is considered antiquated in moral philosophy.

For those of us with training in the sciences, this statement seems to be about fashion. Antiquated is a statement which is time-relative, which is the exact opposite of a law of nature, something which is timeless, something which was true, and also something which will be true. It seems especially strange when talking about moral philosophy or ethics. If ethics are something to be dependent upon, then why shouldn't ethical statements be timeless. Ancheta Wis 07:08, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I think the division between positive and negative is both real and widely recognized, as reflected in the division of human rights into the ICCPR and ICESCR. The negative rights are central to the identity of capitalist democracies in a way that positive rights are not, as evidenced by FDR's dropping of "freedom from want" as a focus after the Brits and Australians pointed out that, if taken seriously, the ICESCR mandated the creation of a totalitarian state. And the roles are reversed for socialist countries. Regardless of the actual political tension of the Cold War, there is a real tension between the two; and the tensions between equalizing opportunities and equalizing outcomes. BanyanTree 07:19, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Are Fundamental Civil & Human Rights Greater in the USA?

Those within the US enjoy greater human rights guaranteed by their own nation than do most of other nations. For example: all enjoy the right to trial by their peers - not by judges. Ironically the greater human rights within the US creates difficulty when international treaties with reduced levels of human rights are considered. The US Government may not legally enter into any treaty that diminishes the fundamental human rights of Americans, and most treaties would do this. The ICC for example would require Americans to be tried before judges and to be denied trials by juries of their peers.

Few understand US Constitutional law because most come from nations where their government has far more authority than does the US Government. The US Government is in practice very weak, and the human rights of the people are greater than is the case in most other nations. For example: The US government lacks authority to deny the people the right to bear firearms. One often hears debate about the wisdom of this civil right, and such is irrelevant here - except that this illustrates how much greater fundamental human rights are in the US. Few, (if any) other nations gurantees the right to bear arms as a civil right? (Please refrain from engaging in irrelevant debate here about the wisdom of this civil right, the point is that it is a civil right not widely held anywhere else). Name another nation where citizens cannot be tried by judges? To be fair, the US does not recognize that criminals have a civil right to avoid execution, but many nations recognize this civil right for criminals.

The primary point here is the challenge the US faces when treaties that would diminish US civil rights - but increase them elsewhere are offered. This is the same challenge nations face today that recognize a civil right of criminals to avoid execution when extraditing criminals to nations that might execute them. Nations are expected to only enter into treaties that conform to the civil rights recognized, so the US may not enter into the International Criminal Court, nor will nations that prohibit capital punishment cooperate with those that do.

Raggz 22:09, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

UN Declaration and inalienable rights

The UN Declaration did not introduce the idea that rights are inalienable to the public realm. That idea goes back to at least the 1776 United States Declaration of independence, which I cite as prior art.

Moreover, as Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence, and as Jefferson was a Deist rather than a believer in the Judeo-Christian God, it's not quite accurate to say that that Declaration espouses the theory that those rights come from that God. The Declaration of Independence refers to "Nature's God," which while still being an inherently religious idea leaves some room for interpretation beyond Judeo-Christian interpretation.

Finally, the statement "Humans have rights and they must be respected," at the end of the final paragraph under Hate crimes, explaining the liberal view, is redundant and tends to give the impression that this is a liberal argument and that those who oppose their view do not believe that "humans have rights and they must be respected." The sentence adds nothing factual. 18:59, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Alternative groundings of human rights

I hope I'm doing this correctly, but I just wanted to post a concern that grounding human rights in natural law is only one way to do it and to make it sound like all conceptions of human rights come from natural law is misleading. See for instance, History, Human Rights and Globalization, by Sumner B. Twiss, Journal of Religious Ethics 32(1):39-70. In that article alone he outlines several justifications for human rights which have nothing to do with natural law. Thank you, A new person

little changes

I changed things around a bit to make the article somewhat clearer.

Added some references too although didn't yet add references to the text proper.

The "New Person" is certainly correct in pointing out that natural law is only one possible source of rights, and I changed the beginning accordingly. Human rights are also not the same as 'natural rights' so I took the reference out.

I am tempted to make the Hate crimes- segment into a separate article. Any opinions? first and formost, the right to life demands a right to be on the planet homelessness is a retarded concept

Removing Hate Crimes from this article

Just double-checked. There is quite a good article speficially on Hate Crimes making the segment here repetative. I'm going to remove it now.

Human right vs. Human rights

In accordance with Wikipedia:Naming conventions (plurals), shouldn't this article be called Human right? Rad Racer 22:27, 20 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Google test: 706,000 hits for "Human right" and 18,500,000 for "Human rights" (rato: 1:20). It's just one of those words that people manipulate to get around saying the singular form: "an example of my human rights", etc. By comparison, "scissor", which should never be singular, gets 1,480,000 hits while "scissors" gets 3,630,000 hits (ratio 1:2.5). Naming conventions are not a straitjacket and this article should stay where it is. - BanyanTree 23:24, 20 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Major copy-editing

As many paragraphs of the orginal article were rehashses of previous sections, I combined and rearranged sections into 4 major subcategories. It became apparent during the copyediting that some topics related to History, and others to Philosophy, so I created separate sections for each.

Now however my head hurts (it took well over an hour to copyedit). If someone would please be so kind to compare versions and add back in the internal links that were previously pointing to WikiPedia pages, I would much appreciate it LOL. --JeffC 02:59, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)


I have some concerns about this article. First, it is POV. The article asserts that "human rights" 1) exist and 2) are central to the western legal tradition. Both claims are highly controversial. It includes no discussion of criticism of natural rights theory or human rights theory, such as legal positivism, which has also been central to much western political thought (i.e. Bentham, Edmund Burke, O.W. Holmes, Jr., HLA Hart, etc.). Bentham famously asserted that men do not have natural rights, and Bentham probably has been just as influential in inspiring our legal system as natural rights. Rejection of "natural" property rights theory, for example, has been central to the New Deal revolution in law and the implementation of the administrative state in both Britain and the U.S. Second, this article redirects from "natural rights." Natural rights theory developed in a different historical context than human rights theory, but one reading this article would perceive not a whit of difference between the two.

This article honestly is rather disappointing. I have found most "rights" discussion to be ill-informed and imprecise, and this page only adds to the confusion, to be quite honest. Please Don't BlockPlease Don't Block

I was directed to the human rights article by clicking on natural rights in another article. I think there is a bit of difference between the two (three if you want to throw civil rights into the mix.) They may be related in some way but I don't think they are the same. Is human rights theory a branch of natural law? Do rights come from God or from legislature? The article probably needs to be divided into two.

Right to self-defense

I noticed that this article avoids any mention of a right to self defense in either the text of the article or the links at the end. In the US it is a commonly held view that human rights include the right to individual and collective self defense and the access to weapons to make that possible. The article seems biased in this regard. I don't want to add a series of links to gun rights organizations at the end, but there should be some recognition that these organizations exist and that it is considered a human right by many. kpturvey August 8, 2005

Oh dear. If the right to own and use a gun is seen as a "human right" by many in the USA that explains rather a lot, including 20,000 gun-related deaths per annum. The right to life is a human right - how one exercises that right - by defending oneself, or by appointing a private security force, publically funded police force or army to do it, is the MEANS by which that right is maintained. In fact, it's arguable that, if positive human rights do not exist, you do NOT have the right to either weapons or police protection - the only right you have is for others not to infringe your right to life.

Exile 15:16, 30 August 2005 (UTC)

This page isn't really for a debate on whether or not you agree, but whether or not this should be part of the discussion. Many, if not most, people in the United States see the right to bear arms as a human right. This page should at least pay some attention to the beliefs of these people. In addition, the people of Brazil recently indicated their support for this view as well in a national election. We should at least note this in the text. Unless someone has a problem with this other than, "I disagree", I will add it in appropriate places in the text without spending a lot of time on it.

I went ahead and added a few words that at least recognizes that many of the documents mentioned on negative rights include the right to bear arms.

removed text

The world's oldest recorded charter of human rights was engraved on the famous Cyrus Cylinder, written and confirmed by the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great at around 538 BCE. Cyrus' charter, adopted by the first Persian Empire (Iranian Empire of the Achaemenids), is thought to be very advanced for the age, even comparing favorably with modern declarations of human rights, against which it is also contrasted as being much more spiritual.

This is extremely subjective and may not be NPOV; it also overreads the test of the Cyrus Cylinder, as quoted in that article. Cyrus does not ascribe any rights to all men, but says he rules all men and is benevolent to them. Laudable; but not the same thing. The only suggestion of right or desert is that the inhabitants of Babylon do not deserve to do forced labor; it doesn't befit their social standing. This rather suggests that forced labor is suitable to other humans. Septentrionalis 18:13, 14 August 2005 (UTC)

thumbs up!

great article, our teacher used it in our english major class (on a german high school) and we came along with this article quite well.

thanks and keep up the good work.


I suggest merging (and redirecting) Natural rights and Inalienable rights into this article. There is much duplication in these various articles, and they are basically about the same thing. It would be more logical to have a single article. --JW1805 19:28, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

There are Two Fundamentally Different Concepts

Human Rights are based on morals. They are used in pleas for fairness, and to show victimhood. Because their basis is subjective, they have no Platonic factual existence.

Natural Rights are based on factual evidence that we can see for ourselves or prove via the scientific method. Because their basis is not subjective, natural rights can only be used for statements about the factual nature of man. A plea for a natural right negates the possibility that the item in question could be a natural right because natural rights are unalienable—-we don't have to ask anybody for them—-there is no way to give up the item in question.

The founding fathers of the United States of America did not create a Plea for Independence. They did not ask permission for their rights. These rights already belonged to them because they were unalienable—-they could not give them up in the first place. They are a natural part of what human beings consist of. They are natural rights. --Zephram Stark 20:41, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

  • Honestly, none of what you are saying makes any sense. What the heck does "Platonic factual existence" mean anyway? What are your sources for these definitions? I don't agree with saying that one terms implies a "plea for fairness" and the other is "provable via the scientific method". Both are just different terms for the same concept that human beings have various rights that are (or should be) inherent to all human beings. The Wikipedia article for Human rights has the statements:
"Human rights refers to the concept of human beings as having universal rights,"
"In the Western political tradition, human rights are held to be "inalienable" and to belong to all humans. "
Which basically says that "human rights" = "inalienable rights". So, there is no need for a separate article. Your various theories about the subtle differences between various words resulted in a VfD [1] for Unalienable rights (which you claimed was fundamently different from Inalienable rights, when in reality the two words are synonyms. I assume you are trying to do the same thing here. Can we get some other users to comment on this matter?--JW1805 23:14, 21 September 2005 (UTC)
I'm sorry about the reference to Plato. Let's just keep this simple. Do you really see the disparity between moral beliefs and facts provable via the scientific method or observation as being a "subtle difference?" --Zephram Stark 01:50, 22 September 2005 (UTC)
I don't think they are different, really. Take this example from Tom Paine's The Rights of Man, where the terms "human rights", "natural rights", "unalienable rights", and "imprescriptible rights" are all used as though meaning the same thing:
"The representatives of the people of France..considering that ignorance, neglect, or comtempt of human rights, are the sole causes of public misfortunes..have resolved to set forth..these natural, imprescriptible, and unalienable rights."
"Rights of Man 111: The end of all political associations, is, the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man; and these rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance of oppression." --JW1805 02:21, 22 September 2005 (UTC)
In current usage[2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8], Inalienable Rights means the same as Human Rights—-the term is subjective and based on morals. Unalienable Rights, on the other hand, are almost exclusively associated with the United States Declaration of Independence. The United States Declaration of Independence is explicit in its meaning and internally consistent. There is absolutely no mention of a basis in morality or relativism. The DOI only claims to be based on observable facts of human nature.
As far as I'm concerned, you can call pink blue and religion cotton candy as long as you don't try to associate the U.S. Declaration of Independence with subjective morality. There is nothing subjective or moralistic about the Declaration of Independence. It is what it is, it speaks for itself and it reads "unalienable rights," not "human rights" or "universal rights" or "inalienable rights" or anything else except rights that cannot be alienated. It's really simple, and those who try to complicate the term have blatantly obvious ulterior motives. --Zephram Stark 01:50, 22 September 2005 (UTC)
  • Look, you have already lost this argument. The Wikipedia consensus is that "unalienable" is a synonym of "inalienable", and this page is not the place to revisit that. You seem to have a problem with moral relativism, and want to argue that what is in the Declaration of Independence is "real", as opposed to phoney modern notions. However, Wikipedia is not the place for Original research, or a forum to express opinions. However, that has nothing to do with this, I'm simply saying that these various terms are just different words for describing the same ideas, and need to be incorporated into one article. A discussion about where people think rights come from (are they provable, relative, God-given, etc) should certainly go in that article. --JW1805 02:21, 22 September 2005 (UTC)
Please look up the word consensus before you use it again. It grates on my nerves every time you invoke it so blatantly out of context. --Zephram Stark 15:30, 22 September 2005 (UTC)
  • Natural Rights is a specific philosophical concept which, to my mind, is not properly dealt with in the current Wikipedia entry (i'm new to Wiki - would be happy to write some more on the topic when I get a moment). It is quite different to, and shouldn't be confused with, the expressly political notion of "human rights". Natural Rights (if there are such things) exist in the absence of and prior to (to use Bentham's word, "anterior" to) any political system, and are relevant to the discussion of any form of community organisation, political or otherwise (including anarchy). As soon as you talk of the rights granted by the American (or any other) constitution you're talking about political, legal, rights - whcih may be *based* on a view of natural rights (though query what the point of that would be), but they are ultimately of a quite different kind. The most famous critique of Natural Rights is Bentham's - he calls the very concept "nonsense", and the concept of *inalienable* natural rights "nonsense on stilts". The reason I was looking to this entry in Wikipedia in the first place is to see whether there have been any subsequent rebuttals of Bentham's position, but Bentham isn't even noted in the Wikipedia entry. Any reference to a constitutive political document such as the American Declaration of Independence (or whatever) is part of a different discussion altogether. Natural Rights is relevant to the discussion of moral objectivism and moral subjectivism (basically, if you don't accept the notion of moral objectivity, then you can't really have a concept of natural rights). Natural Rights should definitely not be merged with Human Rights. ElectricRay 08:32, 22 September 2005 (UTC)
There's been quite a little conspiracy going on to subvert the meaning of the Declaration of Independence. To me, the conspiracy is silly since we will always have the original words of the Declaration, they are internally consistent, and they speak for themselves. Yet, sections talking about these principles in their original context, no matter how well written, are summarily destroyed. I wrote an email to, asking them why they reference an older version of Wikipedia's article on the Declaration of Independence. They wrote back and said that the older version had a Philosophical Background section that has been stripped out of the newer versions. Still, you can find many authoritative sources in other places on the Internet. Here is a philosophical primer that uses the internally consistent linkage of the Declaration as a powerful example of logical connections based on inherent equality. --Zephram Stark 16:08, 22 September 2005 (UTC)
  • Unfortunately, that section contains many blatantly false statements, in addition to some odd original research. It says that Thomas Jefferson didn't really write the Declaration. It says that John Lilburn was the source of the Bill of Rights. And, of course, deep philisophical discussion about the fundamental difference between "un" and "in" alienable. It also says that the Constitution of Pennsylvania uses "unalienable", rather than "inalienable", which is false [9]. Of course there should be a Philosophical Background section in that article, but it needs to contain correct information.--JW1805 16:46, 23 September 2005 (UTC)
  • Hmm - thanks but being a Limey, I'm not that interested in the US declaration of independence per se, nor conspiracy theories. Would be intersted in any critiques anyone is aware of relating to Bentham's attack on natural rights, though - does anyone know whether it has been coherently attacked? If one exists, it certainly ought to be put in an entry on Natural Rights.ElectricRay 22:40, 22 September 2005 (UTC)
I think common sense argues that some rights exist that humans cannot relinquish. A pretty basic example of this would be breathing. Breathing is not something we have a moral right to do. It is part of what it means to be a human. We cannot give up our right to breath. We can't permanently stop breathing even if someone said, "Give up your right to breath, or we will kill all of your family and friends." Breathing is a natural right.
The same common sense argues that some claimed rights have nothing to do with human nature. Suppose a group of terrorists strapped bombs to your family and told you, "The next time you seek nuclear fuel cycles, we will kill them all." Could you save your family? Could your relinquish your right to nuclear fuel cycles? Of course, because you have the physical ability to give them up. You could go the rest of your life without a single nuclear fuel cycle. It is possible. However, what would happen if the terrorists instead said, "The next time you seek a to protect your life, we will blow up your family." Could you physically relinquish your right to life? Could you let someone beat you to death without raising your hands in defense? Could you let someone push you in a pool without trying to stay afloat? The founding fathers of the United States say, "no." Your right to life is unalienable. It is built-in. It is not something that you can relinquish, even if you try—-even if the lives of all your loved ones depend upon it. It is part of the "self-evident" nature of mankind. --Zephram Stark 23:31, 22 September 2005 (UTC)
  • Ahhh - Okayyy - sorry I asked. I meant a *coherent* response to Bentham - i.e., by someone well known (with the greatest respect), and which doesn't start with a dead giveaway like "common sense argues ...". Sorry to say that the above falls squarely within Bentham's description of natural rights in his Critique: i.e., nonsense on stilts. ElectricRay 16:17, 23 September 2005 (UTC)

Human rights needn't be inalienable; inalienable rights are a putative sub-set of human rights. If the two articles were thin and short, I'd be happy with the merger — but they're not, so I'm not. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 11:02, 22 September 2005 (UTC)

I can't see any reason for the article on Inalienable Rights to exist at all. Everything in it is already part of the Human Rights article and written much better.
As ElectricRay said, Natural Rights is a completely different concept from Human Rights. You may disagree that rights can exist that cannot be alienated from human nature, but you cannot logically hold that some people (including every signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence) believed in the "self-evident" nature of natural "unalienable rights." If you want to merge Unalienable Rights" with Natural Rights" I would love to work with ElectricRay and anyone else on the article to show how this concept is fundamentally different from Human Rights. I welcome Bentham's position in an article about Natural Rights, but Betham's argument simply doesn't apply to an article on Human Rights. --Zephram Stark 15:25, 22 September 2005 (UTC)
While Paine may have used "human rights" and "natural rights" interchangeably, that is not how they are used today. Natural rights remain those fundamental to persons as part of human nature, and "natural rights" refer to a very specific train of classical liberal thinking. Natural rights can never be "granted" or "taken", but they can be "recognized", "secured", or "violated".
"human rights" and the detestable "civil rights" are different beasts altogether. These so-called rights are formed by consensus or politics and can be granted or taken at will. -O^O
  • Whether or not natural rights, inalienable (or unalienable) rights, or human rights are all one and the same concept is open to a great deal of current and historical debate--no matter how many philosophers you can find who say that they're really the same thing, you can always find a few others who will fight tooth and nail to keep them apart. I think it would be a mistake to simply lump the ideas together as if those debates didn't exist. But you might try a type of compromise. Cover natural rights and inalienable rights under Human Rights, and leave them their own section as well. After all, natural rights and inalienable rights certainly make up a large part of the rights debates: but they're not the whole ball of wax; but nonetheless, they have their own philosophical histories. Sure, some repetition is bound to occur, but with editing it can be kept to a minimum. And space certainly shouldn't be an issue in cyberspace. --Randy Walden, 17:30, 22 September 2005 (UTC)
There is a context problem in saying that Inalienable Rights is the same as Natural Rights. In most usage today, the term "Inalienable Rights" is used rhetorically.[10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] According to usage, it no longer means the same thing as Natural Rights. Instead it refers to rights that have already been lost, or that the petitioner fears losing. A plea for the object of an "inalienable right" negates the possibility that the right could be natural. Natural rights cannot be relinquished. For instance, one doesn't need to demand the natural right to breath. He couldn't stop breathing even if he tried. --Zephram Stark 23:47, 22 September 2005 (UTC)
  • I disagree with this last part: if a right is "natural," it's usually taken to be a right which all humans have, no matter what the laws of their land. Nonetheless, under many conceptions of the term, a natural right may be sometimes justly usurped: for example, to serve a greater good, like the good of society at large (note that while that's a highly utilitarian viewpoint, it not restricted to utilitarianism, especially among many natural rights advocates with religious tendencies). An "inalienable" right, on the other hand, is one which we may never usurp justly (a claim often made by those who oppose the death penalty even if the suspect could be shown beyond the shadow of any doubt to be a merciless killer). (Obviously, in other contexts, "inalienable" is taken to mean "inherent", and is therefore almost a synonym for "natural", but there are other ways in which the term is taken in philosophical debate as well, where it has more of the sense "inviolate".) "Natural" and "inalienable" are sometimes taken to be the same thing, but they are not necessarily so. Also, a natural right certainly can be relinquished, for instance when someone commits suicide. Further, a plea for inalienable rights in no way negates the possibility of it being natural. It is, in fact, often on the basis that someone considers a right natural that they argue for it being inalienable as well. Both natural rights and inalienable rights, under most conceptions, can certainly be violated by others: that is generally why pleas are made for their protection. Pleading for protection of a right does not entail an admission that the right is not natural or inalienable: often quite the contrary. But hey, this is just a discussion about whether the terms should have separate sections here, right? Natural rights is certainly a different concept from human rights for many people (like utilitarians), but not for everyone: many people argue, in one way or another, that human rights are only meaningful (or truly valid) when fundamentally based on natural rights. Again, why not allow the two terms their separate sections, with cross references, and space under the main entry as well? If the editors can't agree on how the terms should be treated, chances are neither can the rest of the world. --Randy Walden ( 15:35, 23 September 2005 (UTC)

The problem

What we have here are two really bad articles (Natural rights and Inalienable rights), and one sort of good article (Human rights). It appears that everything in the first two is also included in Human rights. Let's look at some examples:

  • Natural rights: Says that they are called "unalienable" by the Declaration of Independence. Then lists two quotes containing the terms "unalienable" and "inalienable". Also says that "Natural rights differ from human rights in that they cannot be relinquished, regardless of the strength of desire of the person wishing to relinquish them." This definition is essentially meaningless. Of course you can relinquish your life, liberty, or happiness.
You are misrepresenting the Declaration of Independence, as usual. Some rights cannot be alienated, like the right to breath. Whether or not you think Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness is in the same category is irrelevant. The concept exists that some rights cannot be alienated exists and is completely the opposite from the concept of rights based on morals. --Zephram Stark 16:52, 23 September 2005 (UTC)
I'm not trying to misrepresent the Declaration of Independence. I still don't think your "right to breath" is a good example, though. Again, I have to bring up the definition of "natural right" as: "A right considered to be inherent or inalienable, esp. in connection with the individual's relationship to the state and to society.". I don't think bodily functions like breathing really fit into this category. And anyway, breathing is not "inalienable", since it can certaintly be taken away from somebody (if somebody kills a person, they have taken away their right to breath -- also their right to life.) Conversely, if a person commits suicide, they have taken away their own right to breath. --JW1805 19:18, 23 September 2005 (UTC)
Would it help if I stated the Bentham critique of Natural Rights, to explain why it's different to "human rights" and "civil rights", and has nothing whatsoever to do with the American constitution, and is not interested in what any putative "natural rights" might be? Natrual Rights is a *metaphysical*, not a sociological or legal, idea. Bentham breaks down the argument for natural rights into the following implied or express propositions:
  • (1) – That there are such things as “natural” rights which exist in prior to and in the absence of ANY government, and which can be contrasted with LEGAL rights which are contingent on there being a government to enact and enforce them;
  • (2) – That these natural rights cannot be overridden by government;
  • (3) – That all (legitimate) governments derive their origin from formal associations entered into voluntarily by all members of the governed community for the purpose of forming a new government where there was none before; the corollary being that any self-styled government (or “knots of persons exercising the powers of government”) having any *other* origin than such a voluntary, unanimous partnership is not legitimate. (Zephram - the consequence of the "natural law" metaphysical argument (which Bentham dismisses by the way) would be that the US Government, not being the product of unanimous agreement, cannot be illegitimate, which I suspect is somthing you will not agree with)
According to Bentham, the first is untrue, except perhaps in a figurative sense: “the moment you attempt to give the expression “natural rights” a literal meaning it leads to error..." the precise error being what exactly are these so-called natural rights, and how do we recognise them, in the absence of a system of social and legal organisation? Clearly, legal rights cannot exist without a legal system. In the absence of one of those, there would need to be some sort of objective method of organisation of individual preferences existing as a state of nature, which could be observed or induced in some sort of scientific fashion in order for there to be any “rights” (a *subjective* organisation of preferences would provide no way of arbitrating a dispute, so would get us nowhere). So, what would this objective system of evaluating individual preferences look like, and where would we find it in nature? Answer, says Bentham, is nowhere. This, as I have mentioned, is a technical argument in the field of metaphysics. It has nothing to do with human rights or civil rights (in the commonly understood sense).ElectricRay 22:02, 23 September 2005 (UTC)
What would it look like? That is the subject of a wide range of movies and science fiction books. With the absence of government, such as after a nuclear war, or in a Lord of the Flies or Mad Max setting, social hierarchies instantly start forming. This isn't just science fiction theory. There is an example right here in front of us. Where can we find it? Wikipedia. Social hierarchies that weren't supposed to be part of this project cannot help but form because of human nature. We all want to control our destiny and the destiny of our society to the greatest extent possible. The social side of evolution requires us to do so. Survival of the fittest doesn't only apply to our physical beings, but also to our hopes, aspirations, and thoughts for society. The best ideas should rise to the top. When they don't, we know that the system is corrupt, somebody is using motivations of social evolution for personal gain. To stem this corruption, we create organized systems of government designed to keep people from imposing undue influence on social ideas. If it were possible to keep undue influence from occurring in any other way, we wouldn't need government at all. The potential corruption due to our competing desires to both maximize our personal life and work with others for the benefit of society leads us to put systems of information and tools of equality in place. Historically, those systems and tools had to be managed by other humans, leading to corrupt governments, but today we have the technology to create unlimited systems of information and tools for equality completely within the technology of the internet. We no longer need government by representation. We're about to find out exactly what it will look like when we have only our natural rights to govern us. --Zephram Stark 03:01, 24 September 2005 (UTC)
Zephram I think we've drifted away from off the topic at hand - the *ontological* question of whether natural rights are the same as human rights, etc, and are instead debating the substantive issues around natural rights instead. While I agree that is very interesting (I'm trying to write separately about it at the moment, in fact) the narrow question here is whether natural rights and human rights should be combined in a single topic or not, and I think it's slightly beside the point. I would be interested to continue this discussion with you offline (I haven't yet worked out how to private message yet) because I think you're absolutely right that Wikipedia/internet is a fantastic example for analysis in terms of this debate, but I disagree (to the extent you frame it in terms of words like "should") with your conclusion. Even though I suspect we'll never convince each other, I would find it very helpful to "spar" with you to test the robustness of the programme I am trying to argue (which involves no recourse to "oughts" or other natural rights, which I agree with Bentham are basically nonsense).ElectricRay 08:41, 24 September 2005 (UTC)
  • Inalienable rights: Says that this term "refers to a set of human rights that are absolute..." which seems to imply that "Inalienable rights" are a subset of "human rights". However, no examples are given. What is an example of a human right that is not a natural right, and vice versa? Then says that "inalienable rights are said to be based on Natural Law". Does that mean that they are the same as "natural rights"?
  • Human rights: At least this article is much more comprehensive. Says that they are "universal rights" that all people have. Says that "Natural law theories base human rights on the “natural” moral order..." (seems to imply equivalence between natural and human rights). Then goes on to say that "In the Western political tradition, human rights are held to be "inalienable" and to belong to all humans." This seems to say that "human rights" are equivalent to "inalienable rights".

So, to summarize, we have three articles that seem to be about the same subject: "Rights" possessed by humans. There may be some differences as to the supposed origins of these rights, their philosophical basis, how they are applied, etc. But wouldn't those issues would be better compared and contrasted in a single article? The current state of affairs is very confusing.--JW1805 16:27, 23 September 2005 (UTC)

Let me try to unconfuse it for you. Each term was coined to mean exactly what it says. Human rights means rights that belong to humans. As Mel said, this would make it a super-set of other rights. Unalienable rights are rights that cannot be alienated. Unalienable rights have never been confused with rights granted by a government except here at Wikipedia. 200 years ago, Inalienable rights were used in the same context as Unalienable rights, but now they mean something completely different in usage. Inalienable rights today means rights based on morals and granted by a government. Does that help? --Zephram Stark 17:11, 23 September 2005 (UTC)

I just checked out Civil rights, which has this quote:

  • "Civil rights are distinguished from "human rights" or "natural rights"; civil rights are rights that persons do have, while natural or human rights are rights that many scholars think that people should have." which, of course, contridicts the other definitions.--JW1805 16:33, 23 September 2005 (UTC)
There are obviously many different definitions and usages, but there are two concepts. Whether or not you agree that there are two concepts does not change the fact that history's most respected philosophers recognize unalienable rights like breathing to be in a separate category from government granted rights like sexual expression. We can argue about which "rights" fall into which category, and what to call the categories, but two fundamentally different concepts have been recognized throughout history from Plato to Bentham and beyond. --Zephram Stark 17:00, 23 September 2005 (UTC)
All I'm saying is that it is not clear in the various Wikipedia articles. The distinctions you are making above aren't in there anywhere (at least I don't think so). --JW1805 19:18, 23 September 2005 (UTC)
JW, I looked through the "Human Rights" article - which I think is the one you think is the good one - and it doesn't mention Bentham once. This is a compelling argument that the *metaphyiscal concept* of natural rights that I keep banging on about is something different which ought to be kept separate.ElectricRay 08:41, 24 September 2005 (UTC)


Various rights.

It might be an interesting exercise to provide a list of rights grouped into categories. For example, a right that is inalienable but not natural, a right that is natural but not inalienable, etc. How about it? --JW1805 19:23, 23 September 2005 (UTC)

  • Is this what you are trying to say (See diagram): That some rights are Natural, Inalienable, Natural and Inalienable. But all rights are human rights?--JW1805 19:31, 23 September 2005 (UTC)
If you include breathing as a human right, I think that diagram is a fair representation of general usage. The problem you run into by using that diagram is that some people will say that all Human rights are based on morals. If Natural rights are a subset of Human rights and it becomes accepted that all Human rights are based on morals, that would change the meaning of Natural rights. (It would no longer include breating, for instance.) Since Human Rights are used in various different contexts, some of which exclude the right to breath, it is better to keep Natural rights completely separate to avoid confusion. --Zephram Stark 02:18, 24 September 2005 (UTC)


I oppose the merge. Clearly, these are closely related concepts, but they have shades of meaning which have been discussed in very different ways in the past. Generally, I propose the following distinctions between the articles in questions:

  • Right - discusses the basic idea of rights
    • Natural rights - discusses whether or not some rights arise from natural law
    • Inalienable rights - discusses whether or not some rights are inalienable
    • Human rights - discusses that muddy morass of thought that describes itself as "human rights", especially the definitions used by the UN and similar such groups, along with their legal implications
    • Civil rights - discusses citizens' rights to interact with their governments, etc. I'm not sure how universal "civil rights" is ever going to be; as a distinct concept it seems to be tied in quite closely to specific conflicts and legal relationships in Western countries in the late 19th-through-mid 20th centuries.

Does that sound about right? - Nat Krause 05:10, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

I would say that is about spot on. You've summarised my view extremely succintly.ElectricRay 08:45, 24 September 2005 (UTC)
Oppose merger: I agree completely. Check out the human rights entry from the internet encyclopedia of philosophy to see natural rights in the context of human rights. Further, I don't think a categorical listing excercise of rights would be helpful to anyone. TreveXtalk 09:28, 24 September 2005 (UTC)
Nat Krause, You have done an excellent job of describing how these terms should be used as succinct and different ideas with the possible exception of "Inalienable Rights." The Inalienable rights article links to only examples that are either "Natural rights" or "Human rights." The example it gives of Unalienable rights as used in the U.S. Declaration of Independence is clearly talking about the concept of Natural rights as you describe them. Whereas, Iran's "Inalienable right" to a nuclear fuel cycle, and Palestine's "Inalienable right" to Mediterranean property are clearly talking about the concept of Human rights as you describe them. Because archaic usage of "unalienable" is already covered by the concept of "Natural rights" while the modern usage of "inalienable" is covered by "Human rights", no article on "Inalienable rights" is needed at all. Its weak attempt to link the Declaration of Independence with Moral_universalism and Moral_relativism amounts to nothing but primary source original research. Nothing in the articles themselves claims that the Declaration of Independence is, in any way, an example of these arguments. The "Inalienable rights" criticism of the Declaration as a Naturalistic_fallacy is absurd since the Declaration obviously does not "appeal to a definition of the term 'good'" in any fashion. --Zephram Stark 18:13, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
  • I agree with Nat Kraus suggestion. I'll go ahead and drop my merger request, since I guess arguments can be made that these terms are different. Although I did put in the Rights article a statement that they are sometimes used interchangeably. Of course I disagree with Zephram Stark's interpretation about the Inalienable rights article.--JW1805 18:22, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

Merger requests removed

Since the above discussion did not come to a clear conclusion and there was such strong opposition to the merger already in September, I removed the merger requests.

Zoe12345 14:52, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

  • Not the wisest solution IMHO, but, well, ALRIGHT --Lucinor 15:01, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

Introduction needs to be redone?

The introduction has several problems, which I'm listing below. I think the introduction needs to be redone but before I change it, I wanted to ask you for your opinions.

Here are the problems I see: 1.Human rights refers to the concept of human beings as having universal rights, or status, regardless of legal jurisdiction, and likewise other localizing factors, such as ethnicity and nationality.

--"regardless of legal jurisdiction"-- No, human rights may be universal but nonetheless they are guaranteed by individual states (and can be revoked by individual states as well). There are some universal principles (e.g. genocide, slavery) that go beyound state jurisdiction, but most human rights do not. --The phrasing of this sentence seems a bit iffy to me... why is "human rights" not a concept in itself, why does it refer to a concept of human rights as having universal rights?

2.For many, the concept of "human rights" is based in religious principles, or else is otherwise directly related to them. --"religious principles"--perhaps for many, but for many others human rights transcend religious belief and thus claiming that they are based on religious principles is to undermine their universality.

3.However, because a formal concept of human rights has not been universally accepted, the term has some degree of variance between its use in different local jurisdictions —difference in both meaningful substance as well as in protocols for and styles of application. --"not universally accepted". I quickly counted that had only about 15% of the states in the world have not ratified the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights or in other words 85% have. In legal terms, this means that at least some human rights can be called customery law and are thus universal principles, regardless of whether an individual or an individual state accepts universal human rights.

4. Ultimately the most general meaning of the term is one which can only apply universally, and hence the term "human rights" is often itself an appeal to such transcendent principle, without basing such on existing legal concepts. --"such transcendent principle, without basing such on existing legal concepts"? What? Unclear formulation and no point that I can see. Perhaps the writer means "discourse on human rights are an attempt to uncover a transcendent principle" in which case, I disagree as human rights are clearly defined in the legal documents.

5.The term "humanism" refers to the developing doctrine of such universally applicable values, and it is on the basic concept that human beings have innate rights, that more specific local legal concepts are often based. --Humanisms should be discussed somewhere else but here. Perhaps in philosophical schools of thought close to human rights.

6.Within particular societies, "human rights" refers to standards of behavior as accepted within their respective legal systems regarding 1) the well being of individuals, 2) the freedom and autonomy of individuals, and 3) the representation of the human interest in government. --"particular societies", "respective legal systems"-- a legal system does not exist in a society but in a state. Wrong phrase here.

7. These rights commonly include the right to life, the right to an adequate standard of living, the prohibition of genocide, freedom from torture and other mistreatment, freedom of expression, freedom of movement, the right to self-determination, the right to education, and the right to participation in cultural and political life. These norms are based on the legal and political traditions of United Nations member states and are incorporated into international human rights instruments (see below). --"prohibition of genocide" is actually not a human right but a part of international humanitarian law as put forward in the " Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide"

more comments from another observer on Oct. 16 2005

Has the work on this page been dropped? I noticed the "four most important" now includes only 3 rights.

as i understand from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the "four" non-derogable rights are (roughly) right to life, freedom from torture, freedom from slavery. (see articles 4, 6,7,8 here). this and other problems with the page appear to merit an attention or expert tag, which i'm planning to insert shortly. comments? Doldrums 10:17, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

edits to (the former) HR & UN section

is there a source for this statement in the article? "The declaration limits the behavior of the state, which now has duties to the citizen (rights-duty duality)"

Doldrums 13:19, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

Merger Proposed

I have just finished merging Human rights abuse and human rights violation, and strongly believe it should be merged into this article. It would be a small addition because most of that info is inferior to the info on this page. Thanks! Judgesurreal777 22:04, 4 March 2006 (UTC) -- Definietly agree with this. It seems that all information not already present in the human rights article could be added under a new heading, "Human Rights Abuse"

gets my support Andeggs 14:29, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

Christianity and human rights

Hello, I was looking for an history of HR, to eventually confirm that they did not originate nor where correctly defined within Christianity. Actually I was surprised I did not found any specific mention of it at all in the article! Did I misunderstood the issue or should it be added someway?

I think the introduction should include more of a definition. Those that believe in and support human rights say that human rights are inherent, universal, inalienable, and indivisible. Inherent- everyone has them, they are not earned Universal- the same for everyone Inalienable- can not be taken away (can be violated) Indivisible- each one is just as important as the others, interdependant


I think the introduction should include more of a definition. Those that believe in and support human rights say that human rights are inherent, universal, inalienable, and indivisible. Inherent- everyone has them, they are not earned Universal- the same for everyone Inalienable- can not be taken away (can be violated) Indivisible- each one is just as important as the others, interdependant

Removed section

Apologies for appearing rude whilst removing this entry but as I put I believe it should be integrated into the philosophy section - mostly in the cultural imperisalism paragraphs. The history section should remain for just that with the minimum number of apologies for what is written. Otherwise you end up sumarising the history whilst throwing in some philosophical arguments in a rather haphazard way. Thanks Andeggs 21:12, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for apologising. History is not objective - where there are conflicting or divergent conceptions of a topic such as human rights, there will be different histories for those conceptions. This reflects the various points of view within "History", rather than one 'ultimate' POV. This can be seen as a philosophical argument, but that doens't mean it should go into the philosophy 'box'/section. I don't think that explaining two histories through competing conceptions should be in the philosophy section - it's primary subject is history, not philosophy. I understand your argument though, and so I think a re-write of the opening paragraph, to be framed less apologetically, would be a fair compromise.

I am fairly new to actually editing stuff myself, but have watched and used WP for a couple of years. Simply deleting an edit without acting on your own advice (regards integrating into the philosophy section) strikes me as contrary to the organic evolution of wikipedia. How can you justify deleting something, that is not itself a violation of any principles, without using the position put forward by the edit elsewhere? That's rather negative, slightly authoritarian and not that good a way to encourage newcomers to participate.Bristoltrolley 12:31, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Yes on reflection it was a bit of a bite and as you point out, unwarranted. The entry you are suggesting is not fully fleshed out on the page and should be included but we need to word it carefully. A short entry paragraph is required to start off the history section but I recommend we avoid summarising or apologising. Perhaps something along the lines of:
As with many histories, the history of human rights is debated. Those who prefer to cast human rights as universal norms for humankind tend to stress the long history of their development and emphasise the geographically diverse sources of their inspiration. On the other hand, those who argue that human rights should be viewed as primarily belonging to one culture, namely the West, often stress the role that Western thinkers have played in their formation. When studying the history of human rights one must therefore be mindful that the inclusion and influence of each event is itself a contested point. Andeggs 22:49, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Additional Conflicts

Human rights agencies have had some conflicts with dictatorships (Iraq, Nepal) and communist states (China, Cambodia, Vietnam) where people have been oppressed and some of their freedoms taken away. Examples are China's invasion of Tibet and censorship, Cambodia's past brutal history in which human rights workers were working for good, and Vietnams heavy control over media and freedoms.

They have also interestingly in a few cases been at odds with animal rights activists, as some animal rights called for by activists intrude upon human rights and visa versa. For the most part however both rights activists have worked together. This is just an interesting point that could or could not be mentioned and has no real importance.

Most important is the lack of mention of the human rights abuses in dictatorships and communist states throughout modern history which obviously make those abuses commited by democratic states pale in comparison. However human rights abuses by democratic states are mentioned but not of those of other more freedom restricting governments. This seems to me as POV.--Exander 07:40, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Praise from a Wikipedia User

[Re-posted here due to skewing page due to overly-wide banner format in user's original posting; it made the message and this article too hard to read.]

Hi everyone. I just wanted to thank everyone who's had a part in writing or editing this article. My Model UN report is on human rights, and this article has been invaluable. Kudos to you all! I know this is not the best place to post this comment, so will someone go to my talk page and let me know where is a better place. And by the way, you may want to delete this, but please wait until it has been posted somewhere else. P.S. who should get a barnstar for this?--NSD Student 04:35, 4 April 2006 (UTC) [reposted by]--NYScholar 16:44, 31 May 2006 (UTC)NYScholar 19:54, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

A Few Factual Corrections

1) "In the 18th century in Europe several philosophers, most notably John Locke..."

Although Locke's philosophy was popular and influential in the 18th century, he died in 1704 and ought to be described as a 17th century thinker.

2) "Philosophers such as Thomas Paine, John Stuart Mill and Hegel expanded on the theme of universality during the 18th century."

Both Mill and Hegel are 19th century figures (not 18th). Paine, who died in 1809, can properly be viewed as an 18th century figure.

3) "A contemporary, Henry David Thoreau, who wrote about human rights in his treatise On the Duty of Civil Disobedience [8] may have been the first to call them by that name."

I do not know who was the first person to coin the term "Human Rights" (as opposed to "Rights of Man"). But it was definitely not Thoreau, whose essay on Civil Disobedience was published in 1849.

In 1831 William Lloyd Garrison wrote in the inaugural issue of The Liberator that he was trying to enlist his readers in "the great cause of human rights."

(Rabben, Linda "Fierce Legion of Friends: A History of Human Rights Campaigns and Campaigners", the Quixote Center, 2002, p.43, who in turn is quoting from Mayer, Henry "All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery" St. Martin's Press, 1998, p. 110.

Because Rabben quotes Garrison's biographer Henry Mayer, there is a slight chance that these are Mayer's words, not Garrison's. But the nested quotes make it look like Rabben is quoting Mayer quoting Garrison.)

I don't believe that Garrison coined the phrase either. Evidently the phrase "human rights" came into use some time between 1791 when Paine wrote "The Rights of Man" and 1831 when Garrison published the inaugural issue of The Liberator.

I'm too timid to alter a Wikipedia article, but I think you should just say that the phrase "came into circulation by the early 19th century" or something like that, or else just leave that mostly extraneous remark about Thoreau out altogether.

Hi there - thanks for these comments which I have now added to the article. See the changes here. Don't be timid editing articles, be bold! Andeggs 06:11, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

Hey, thanks! It occurred to me this morning that the Oxford English Dictionary might have an entry for "Human Rights" showing the very first known use of the phrase--however I don't have ready access to the OED. If anyone does, please check it? I'd be much obliged.

Well my OED has an entry but no etymology so no help there. By the way it's courteous to sign comments on the talk page with your signature by typing four tildes after the entry. Welcome to Wikipedia! Andeggs 21:13, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
Good job on catching the Locke / 17th / 18th century reference. I should have seen that when I did the edits. -- Finnegans wake 22:43, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

Human dignity

The second sentence in the lead now places significant weight on the concept of human dignity as underlying the concept of human rights. I think this needs to be removed or nuanced since the two concepts do not always sit well together. For example, in debates around abortion, medical trials or the selling of organs it may well be that those with a human rights outlook take a different position from those with an outlook that affords primacy to dignity. If no-one objects I will remove this sentence. Andeggs 07:13, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

Conflict with religions

Shouldn't it be explicitly noted that a certain world religion is in direct violation of the human rights (in the spirit of the declaration) as they forbid any freedom to change religion? As the most prominent modern-day example Islam can probably be brought forward. A religion which punishes conversion away from it by death deserves to be mentioned in relation to article 18. ---human rights and humanity--- after wwII a long stage started for all humanity.which we are still in.when we describe human rights first perception we have;is to believe unconditional freedom how hard humanity works to develop human rights still its not enough to get where humanity need to get.politica is the main thing for the human being which is more important than human rights when we really search about it usa a super power to bring democracy to the world...and iraq as we see is a hell know.rapes by soldiers killing innocent people bombing anywhere in the cities to get what they want...

bosnian poeple were killed hundred tousands and exiled.150 tousand woman were raped in front of security of france.all the world we just watched till end of genocide.

russians killed 400 tousands checehenian we just watch.

millions tibetian away from their main land under control of china ...we just watch

millions uygur turks under comminist regime of china and goverment assimilate them and on time massacred millions of them we just watched

ugandas genocide was a critical western world which they have created a racist land and as a result nearly a nation was destroyed and all the powers in the world just watched

million kurds has been deported from their land and massacred tousands ....we just watched

STORY OF HUMANITY....all this things happened in last half century

its not include millions vietnameese massacre and afganian massacres

and west allways watch till their interest involves

to sell guns bombs ....its a big money yea.doesnt matter how many innocents will die

WE SHOULD EFFORT to bring peace to the world not just for the patrol...we should give a life to the every individual person in this world

we criticise re;ligions or culture conflicts... somebody gives an example about islam and says about convertions of islam is death penalty islam is a logical religion...and as long as muslims live their faith freely wwants them be part of humanity example of them...muhammed himself with the pagans and 3 tribes jews made a first constution of humanity under his called medina documents...according to that evry citizen had a their own constution according to their religous was multi constution of same land which we dont have any example in the world now muhammed brings lots of solution to make all human race together i believe if muslim world is given oppurtunity they will be part of human rights ...because muhammed his own saying wherever you find a good company to do something good just be part of it because of some nations has their own culturel sight of law such as penalty deaths that cant be counted its islam itself

biggest project of humanity was which pope jean paul II AND islamic world was trying to bring an end for the conflict of cultures and religions unfurtunately a new pope demaged that project can be named peace of thr human race with his statements sounds like religious egocentrism in the middle age

we need peace we need demokracy ...believe me any culture or religion is not against that just people interests and to be keen of political power is the biggest barier for all of us

Derivative rights

I removed this section because I could not make head nor tale of it: Derivative Rights, are rights that are deduced and can not be separated from primary rights without nulifying the primary right. Example: The Right to Life, is a primary right. The 1st derivative of the Right to Life, is the right to use deadly force to defend your life and rights. The 2nd derivative of the Right to Life, is the right to have defensive weapons. The 3rd derivative of the Right to Life, these derivative rights can be collectively transferred to nation states. The 4th derivative of the Right to Life, a nation state has a right to defend its people, borders, resources, rights and culture with defensive weapons. The 5th derivative of the Right to Life, is to have a criminal trial conducted against anyone who is responsible for taking your life. -Your Last Right. Without any one of these derivative rights The Right To Life does not exist. Andeggs 18:40, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Is the Falun Gong homophobic

Some editors are having a heated debate on whether the Falun gong is homophobic. The following quotes are from the leader of this group Master Li Hongzhi. It would be great if you could come to this page and vote your opinion here.

According to Li homosexuality is the leading indicator of the depravity and regression of our society. Gays are more visible than ever and laws have been created to protect their evil life style. In Li’s poem “the World’s Ten Evils,” he states: “homosexuality, licentious desires—dark heart, turning demonic.” [17] Li’s strongest words against gays come from a lecture in Switzerland. Homosexuality was one of the factors that led to the collapse of the Greek civilization, he said. Furthermore, “Homosexuals not only violate the standards that gods set for mankind, but also damage human society’s moral code. In particular, the impression it gives children will turn future societies into something demonic.” [18] Li describes a special kind of suffering for homosexuals. They will be made to undergo a particularly slow and painful annihilation: “That person is annihilated layer after layer at a rate that seems pretty rapid to us, but in fact it’s extremely slow in that time field. Over and over again, one is annihilated in an extremely painful way.” [19]

Thanks --Samuel Luo 04:22, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

School of Salamanca

I found no mention about School of Salamanca and Francisco de Vitoria. They said that all human beings share the same nature, so they have the same rights. The School of Salamanca defended the rights of the indigenous people in the Americas. Francisco de Vitoria maybe the first to develop a theory about human rights called ius gentium (the rights of peoples). -- 23:09, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

Prison release

I was recently released from prison on 3/11/2006 after serving a 3 month sentence for attempt to pervert course of justice (hardly crime of the century). Anyway on my release i was handed a large clear polythene bag with all my belongings in it which carried a large print on the front of it in blue stating "HM Prison Service" on it.

I had to endure embarrassment sitting on a local bus service twice & walking through a main city centre bus station with the said printed bag.

Can anyone advise whether id possibly have a case if i was to start legal action against some body for this embarrassment?


Don't worry about that! Just be happy that you can update Wikipedia now that you're free!
Contact the ACLU. Beyond the classroom 04:32, 21 December 2006 (UTC)


I see vandalism shortly after the history, yet cannot see it if i "edit this page"

psychiatry and human rights

Psychiaty can lock people up when they have not comitted a crime, and can force brain-damaging treatments on patients without they consent. This is violating the human rights.

"Inalienable" again

I have just come upon the discussion of overlapping rights articles, and it occurs to me to add a clarification as to the meaning of "inalienable." The term meant and means in English and American property law that a property interest cannot be voluntarily surrendered or sold. It usually signified the inability of a property owner to sell interests that would otherwise descend to his heirs. To express the somewhat different notion that a right or interest cannot be taken away, one would use a term like "indefeasible." The word "inalienable" therefore was used in old discussions of political theory I think only in connection with the social contract theory of government, to express the idea that while subjects of a monarch may surrender their rights in exchange for his protection, they cannot surrender certain fundamental rights, and that hence revolutions are sometimes politically (not necessarily morally) justified. This quasi-legal notion of inalienable rights is logically derived from a more general idea of natural law (a law prior to, or more fundamental than, the enacted laws of governments) and so of natural rights, but was just a specialized term used metaphorically in a narrow context. For instance, Jefferson's use of the term in the Declaration of Independence is a brilliant condensation of George Mason's draft for the Declaration of Rights for Virginia, in which he says that all men "have certain inherent natural rights, of which they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity." See Pauline Maier, American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997, p.134. I think it might be worth adding clarifications to the relevant articles, and will do so shortly.Sheldon Novick 23:10, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

Shelter and medical care

How about homelessness and people without medical insurance,and the resulting inaccesability to medical care. Would this be considered a violation of human rights?

This touches on an extremenely controversial area, the very definition of human rights. Western sources often emphasize political and civil rights, esp. freedom of the vote, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion. In contrast, some non-Western documents (prominent example, the Chinese government's response to the US human rights report on China) emphasize improvements in material quality of living, e.g. access to clean water, medical care. These are the two major groupings but in real-world practice, human rights advocates and researches tend to fall somewhere in the grey area of the spectrum. --Dpr 16:39, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

Question about geographical articles

I have a question about the use of templates in geographic/regional human rights articles. Human rights in Tajikistan uses the template "Human rights in Central Asia", while Human rights in Uzbekistan (also a Central Asian country) uses "Human rights in Asia." Which one is to be preferred? Is there value in specificity (e.g. in using Central Asia, East Asia, etc, instead of the mega-category "Asia")? Thanks. --Dpr 16:39, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

Human Rights in

This headline should be clarified or removed. There's just a list, but it doesn't mention if this is the "islam" law / rules written in the qur'an, or if it's a list of things that should be better in the religion. If it's the last mentioned, it should be removed, as it's not NPOV. -- Kirjapan 06:17, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Human Rights and Abortion

Black people were marginalized and their rights were stripped, same as babies now. There should be a mention of Abortion not being congruent with human rights.

Human Rights and Democracy

The article says "However, for many people the doctrine of human rights goes beyond law and forms a fundamental moral basis for regulating the contemporary geo-political order. For them, they are democratic ideals." Human rights have nothing whatever to do with democracy which only protects majority rights. Democracy can be a tyranny of the majority. Democracies do not protect human rights, only constitutions do. An effective constitution is the only proven form of governmental protection for human rights.

I suggest deleting "For them, they are democratic ideals" and substituting "For them, effective constitutional human rights are the only means to prevent tyranny, particularly tyranny of the majority". Raggz 08:37, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Human Rights Legislation - Treaties & National Legislation

Where it has been adopted, legislation commonly contains:

The text above is without any supporting citations. Does anyone have any, or should it be deleted? Raggz 08:37, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Welfare Rights

ARTICLE TEXT QUOTED: "It is often argued that "welfare rights" are not human rights, since they cannot even in theory be provided to everyone in all conditions (e.g., if somebody is unemployed or self-employed, if the society is very poor or if there are too few doctors or teachers or if they are not willing to work), and that only the classical human rights that do not require any active provision by anyone, just the lack of violating actions by other humans, should be called human rights. However, the communist countries required "welfare rights" to be added to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, threatening not to sign the declaration otherwise (which they did anyway in the end). The communist's alleged motivation was to belittle any accusations on human rights violations by answering that the West does not completely provide all "welfare rights" either. [4] There is an analogous discussion on some "group rights." See International human rights instruments."

This has no supporting citations. Wikipedia does not have an article for Welfare Rights. Although the concept is interesting - and the text itself is interesting, the text fails Wikipedia standards for inclusion.

Personally I hope that a welfare rights section is added and referenced - or some substantial citations are added to this article. Raggz 08:58, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Regional legislation - to be deleted if not supported

"There are also many regional agreements and organisations governing human rights including the European Court of Human Rights, which is the only international court with jurisdiction to deal with cases brought by individuals (rather than states); the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights; Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam; Inter-American Court of Human Rights; and Iran's Defenders of Human Rights Center." Raggz 08:58, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

==Criticism of human rights (to be deleted). ARTICLE TEXT QUOTED: "Yet, some feel that the cultural imperialism argument is not entirely factual. While Western political philosophers like Locke, Hobbes and Mill made important contributions to the development of modern notions of human rights, the concept of human rights itself has origins in many world cultures and religions. Additionally, this argument leads to absolute relativism if taken too far. If all viewpoints and moral frameworks are equally valid then one cannot condemn any behaviour, however outrageous or horrific. In practice, human rights offer a basis to criticise such behavior or conduct, including imperialism. As such, human rights can be a transformative tool for self-determination.

One way out of the cultural imperialism and relativism debate is to argue that the body of human rights exists in a hierarchy or can undergo derogation. The relationship between different rights is complex since it can be argued that some are mutually reinforcing or supportive. For example, political rights, such as the right to hold office, cannot be fully exercised without other social and cultural pre-requisites, such as a decent education. Whether the latter should therefore be included as a first-generation right is a debated point.

However, it can be argued that the idea of human rights is not entirely universal, and to impose them universally may have harmful consequences. Western developed states often stress the need for a negative rights construct while the developing world seeks a more positive rights construct. In regards to progress in human rights, "institutions are more written in the "hearts of the people" (which cannot be changed overnight) than in the pages of law books. Changing the de jure institutions does not by any means imply a transformative change in the de facto institutions and norms that govern long term behavor" (Ellerman 102-103). Without internal motivation, external leverage can hamper local human rights progress.

Another important philosophical criticism of human rights is their presumed basis in morality. If moral beliefs are fundamentally expressions of individuals' personally held preferences then the objective morality upon which human rights are founded is rejected. Richard Rorty has argued that human rights are not based upon the exercise of reason but a sentimental vision of humanity (even though he does support human rights in law on the basis of interests theory). Alasdair MacIntyre has written that a belief in rights is on a par with "belief in witches and unicorns"[1]. But without care this criticism can become an apology for all behaviour as it aligns closely with moral relativism. It offends some by claiming that moral beliefs are personally held preferences and that there are no objective criterion to deduce valid moral beliefs from.

A final set of debating points revolves around the question of who has the duty to uphold human rights. Human rights have historically arisen from the need to protect citizens from abuse by the state and this might suggest that all mankind has a duty to intervene and protect people wherever they are. Divisive national loyalties, which emphasise differences between people rather than their similarities, can thus be seen as a destructive influence on the human rights movement because they deny people's innately similar human qualities[2]. But others argue that state sovereignty is paramount, not least because it is often the state that has signed up to human rights treaties in the first place. Commentators' positions in the argument for and against intervention and the use of force by states are influenced by whether they believe human rights are largely a legal or moral duty and whether they are of more cosmopolitan or nationalist persuasion."

This is interesting original research, but may not remain unless support (per the Wikipedia policies) is offered. Raggz 16:33, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Philosophy of human rights - This Section Requires Support

Please support these claims or delete them. Raggz 09:17, 14 May 2007 (UTC)


Human rights are sometimes divided into negative and positive rights. "Negative" human rights, which follow mainly from the Anglo-American legal tradition, are rights that a government and/or private entities may not take action to remove. For example, right to life and security of person; freedom from slavery; equality before the law and due process under the rule of law; freedom of movement; freedoms of speech, religion, assembly; the right to bear arms. These have been codified in documents including the Scottish Claim of Right, the English Bill of Rights the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the United States Bill of Rights and Fourteenth Amendment.

"Positive" human rights mainly follow from the Rousseauian Continental European legal tradition and denote entitlements that the state is obliged to protect and provide. Examples of such rights include: the rights to education, to health care, to a livelihood. Positive rights have been codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Articles 22-28) and in many 20th-century constitutions.

Another categorization, offered by Karel Vasak, is that there are three generations of human rights: first-generation civil and political rights (right to life and political participation), second-generation economic, social and cultural rights (right to subsistence) and third-generation solidarity rights (right to peace, right to clean environment). Out of these generations, the third generation is the most debated and lacks both legal and political recognition. Some theorists discredit these divisions by claiming that rights are interconnected. Arguably, for example, basic education is necessary for the right to political participation.

Some human rights are said to be "inalienable rights." This is not a term that has a precise meaning today, but is a term from English property law, used metaphorically, and is usually a reference to the United States Declaration of Independence, emphasizing the importance of a claimed right.[3]

Justification of human rights

Several theoretical approaches have been advanced to explain how human rights become part of social expectations. The biological theory considers the comparative reproductive advantage of human social behavior based on empathy and altruism in the context of natural selection. Other theories hold that human rights codify moral behavior, which is a human, social product developed by a process of biological and social evolution (associated with Hume) or as a sociological pattern of rule setting (as in the sociological theory of law and the work of Weber). This approach includes the notion that individuals in a society accept rules from legitimate authority in exchange for security and economic advantage (as in Rawls).

On the other hand, natural law theories base human rights on the “natural” moral order that derives from religious precepts such as common understandings of justice and the belief that moral behavior is a set of objectively valid prescriptions. Some have used religious texts such as the Bible and Qur'an to support human rights arguments. However, there are also more secular forms of natural law theory that understand human rights as derivative of the notion of universal human dignity.[4]

Yet others have attempted to construct an "interests theory" defence of human rights. For example the philosopher John Finnis argues that human rights are justifiable on the grounds of their instrumental value in creating the necessary conditions for human well-being. Some interest-theorists also justify the duty to respect the rights of other individuals on grounds of self-interest (rather than altruism or benevolence). Reciprocal recognition and respect of rights ensures that one's own will be protected.

Ultimately, the term "human rights" is often itself an appeal to a transcendent principle, not based on existing legal concepts. The term "humanism" refers to the developing doctrine of such universally applicable values. The term "human rights" has replaced the term "natural rights" in popularity, because the rights are less and less frequently seen as requiring natural law for their existence.[5]

UN Position on Human Rights

The article begins with a list: "Human rights refers to universal rights of people regardless of jurisdiction or other factors, such as ethnicity, age, nationality, sexual orientation or religion." While I have no problem with the list itself, it should have a citation to show the source. The only global jurisdiction is the UN, from my POV, the opening should be from the UN policy and the UN list, because it will represent the global view, not a regional POV. Raggz 05:30, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

  1. ^ MacIntyre, Alasdair (1981):After Virtue, pp. 69-70, London, Duckworth
  2. ^ Klitou, Demetrius The Friends and Foes of Human Rights
  3. ^ See Wikipedia article "inalienable rights"
  4. ^ Kohen, Ari (2007). In Defense of Human Rights: A Non-Religious Grounding in a Pluralistic World. Routledge. ISBN 0415420156 , ISBN 978-0415420150
  5. ^ Weston, Burns H. Human Rights in Encyclopedia Britannica Online, p. 2, Retrieved May 18, 2006