Human Rights

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Legal Rights

Legal rights are rights that you camn enforce in a court of law. The state in which you are a citizen will enforce those rights if you file a claim to enforcement.

In Canada, many fundamental rights are codified in a constitutional document called the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, assented to on March 29th, 1982 and came into effect three years latter.

Other rights are given under various Provincial and Federal Statutes

Finally other rights may be found by reviewing case law of various courts in Canada . This law is commonly referred to as the common law.

Human Rights Overview

It is commonly observed that human beings everywhere demand the satisfaction of certain values or capabilities to ensure their individual and collective well being. It is also observed that the satisfaction of such values or capabilities are often frustrated by social as well as natural forces. Such demands lead to the recognition of what today are called "Human Rights" and the legal processes that support them.

Today almost every legal scholar and philosopher agree that every human has, at least in theory, some basic rights. During the last half of the 20th century, the international community began to recognized some international human rights.

Universal Peridical Review

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States once every four years. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.

The UPR was created through the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251, which established the Human Rights Council itself. The UPR is one of the key elements of the new Council which reminds States of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The ultimate aim of this new mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.

Human Rights are often defined as entitlements that belong to all humans simply because they are human.

Many writers have proposed many foundations upon which Human rights are grounded. No single foundation has a monopoly on reasonable claims to be made in its favour. Some views that have been suggested include,

Human Rights versus State Sovereignty

The National State system of government arose in the 16 century in part to provide for greater stability among nations. Traditionally conceived, the relationship with the citizen subject was with his state and no other state was to interfere.

International Human rights which began to immerge from the aftermath of World War 2 appears to have been a challenge to state sovereignty.

In the Charter of the United Nations all members states pledge themselves to take joint action to promote and encourage respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.

In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III), 10 December 1948, many nations endorsed the rights contained as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations".

In 1976, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and approved by the UN in 1966 came into effect.

Other International Treaties


Convention on the Rights of Children

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Human Rights as an Agenda for World Policy Progress

Human Rights has been seen as a framework for a world order of human dignity

French jurist Karel suggested the notion of three generations of human rights inspired by the French Revolution,
liberty - civil and political rights,
equality- economic, social and cultural rights,
and fraternity - solidarity rights.

The first generation would include, the right to life, liberty and security of the person(UDHR3), freedom from racial, gender and religious discrimination(UDHR2), freedom from slavery or involuntary servitude(UDHR4), freedom from torture and from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment(UDHR5), freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention or exile(UDHR9), right to a fair and public (UDHR10)

The second generation of rights is a response to the abuse of capitalist development and its underlying and uncritical conception of individual liberty. Some of the rights in this category are set out in Articles 22-27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Some commentators have characterized this category as "positive rights" or "rights to" as opposed to "negative rights" or "right from" of civil and political first generation rights.

The third generation of rights, possibly suggested by Article 28 of the UDHR,

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

right to economic, social and cultural self-determination,
right to economic, and social development and the right to participate in "the common heritage of mankind ( shared earth and space resources, scientific, technical, and other information and progress
the right to peace,br> the right to a healthy and sustainable environment
the right to humanitarian disaster relief
These third generational rights may be more aspirational the recognized enforceable rights

The Rights Reviewed

Basic Rights

The Right to Life

Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides,

7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides,

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

The Right to Liberty and Security of Person

Liberty has the notion of freedom from constraint and security of persons has the notion of freedom from attack. Both have the notion of the right to self-determination. These also include the right not to be abused, sexually intimidated or violated or subject to domestic violence, although such rights may not have been sufficiently well developed in 1948 to be in the minds of the male drafters of this document. Certainly Canadians documents make such rights much more evidently certain.

Article 22.

Article 14.

Article 15.

Article 16.

Article 17.

Article 18.

Article 19.

Article 20.

Article 21.

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

Article 22.

Article 23.

Article 24.

Article 25.

Article 26.

Article 27.

Article 29.


Ignatieff, Michael (2001) The Rights Revolution, Toronto The House of Anansi

Ignatieff, Michael (2001) Human Rights As Politics and Idolatry, Princeton: Princeton University


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