Human Rights Notes

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Human Rights

1. The nature and Development of human rights

The definition of human rights * Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) sets out the fundamental purpose for recognizing human rights * In the general sense, human rights refer to basic rights and freedoms that are believed to belong to all human beings * As stated in the UDHR, these rights differ from ordinary rights under domestic law as they are considered to be universal, inalienable (cannot be taken away) and inherent to all people.

Developing recognition of human rights * The abolition of slavery * The campaign for universal suffrage * The trade union movement and labour rights * The right of a group to self-determination * Emerging environmental rights * The attempt to establish a right to peace

The abolition of slavery * Slavery is a type of forced labour where a person is considered to be the legal property of another * Slavery was practiced legally until the 20th century * Common forms of slavery involved: debt slavery (forced to pay off a loan with labour), slavery as punishment for crime, prisoners of war committed to slavery * Moves to abolish slavery and slave trading began in the 12th century, e.g. Iceland abolished slavery in 1117 * During the 17th – 19th century, the transatlantic slave trade (the trading of African people by Europeans, transporting them as slaves from Africa to the colonies of the New World) was in action as Europeans began to conquer the New World * Abolitionism a worldwide political movement that sought to abolish slavery began in the 18th century * Rationalist thinkers began to criticize slavery as violating the rights of man, evangelical religions began to call it ‘unchristian’ * Anti-slavery campaigns led by William Wilberforce (British politician) exerted pressure on the British…...

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