To truly understand basic human rights and the laws that relate to them, you first need to understand the significance of the term “rights”. Only by first grasping this concept and how it changes by adding the human aspect, can you fully understand how different laws interact when the two terms are joined together.
The typical understanding of a “Right” is often summarised as a privilege. However, when you talk about human rights, becomes something completely different. It moves away from the domain of privilege to one that that denotes basic, fundamental rights which cannot be taken away. This is very different from the whimsical impression given by the terminology associated with privileges. Human Rights are typically structured in a manner to protect the basic essential human constitutional rights. For example, they ensure any individual is given the opportunity to live in peace and can act as a shield against people who might wish physical and mental harm on you.
Typically people think about human rights as simply relating to their core needs to live. Such as the right to food, the right to shelter and the right to receive a fair wage for their work. However human rights as per the definition stated by law, expand further beyond these basic concepts in an attempt to deliver every person the most physical and mental protection. These laws deal with aspects like abuse, from the newsworthy slavery to more subtle forms of oppression and injustice like discrimination and intolerance.
This aspect was clearly demonstrated on a massive scale during World War II, which involved famous acts of gross suffering on the collective human race. Through the atrocities and loss of life that occurred during this time, it forced the world to take a stand and establish a united front against such actions. In the efforts to ensure that such horrendous acts were never repeated on mankind, the United Nations, ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ was signed in 1948, which to this day, forms the international platform for freedom, justice and peace.
The simplified version of the Articles of the Declaration can be summarised into a few key points, including:
- We are all Born Free and Equal
- The Right to Life
- No Slavery
- No Torture
- No Discrimination
- Equality before Law
- No Unfair Detainment
- The Right to Trial
- Innocent till Proved Guilty in any court of Law
- The Right to Privacy
- Freedom to Move
- The Right to Seek a Safe Place to Live
- Right to Nationality
While these are just some of the nuances of law that protect human rights, there is another side of the law that provides immunity to humans from horrors or injustices. This is known as a person’s Civil Rights and was included due to the similar nature of some the clauses to the Charter of Human Rights enforced by the United Nations. Civil Rights are automatically granted person by right of citizenship to a nation or state which follows the United Nations’ example.
Take Australia for example. The country has no specific Bill of Rights protecting human rights in a single document. Instead, civil rights are laid down in the combination of the constitution, common law and legislation through Acts passed by the Commonwealth Parliament or State/Territory Parliaments. Melbourne itself is very strict on employment rights with several major cases recently before the courts. For international and even local companies, taking on workers through employment agencies specialising in labour hire in Melbourne, they are required to follow the law of the land. For example, the right to fair pay is protected in the Constitution which all businesses operating in Australia are bound to follow as civil rights. In the USA, civil rights are protected by the Constitution, guarding citizens against discrimination while granting freedom of speech, due process, equal protection and the right against discrimination.
However, it is important to remember that while civil rights laws are country specific, human rights are based on an international authority. Hence, while some nations might not be that strict at enforcing civil rights, they are likely to be more stringent about human rights violations.