Universality and Inalienability of Human Rights

Write about one of the Human Rights Principles mentioned in the Human Rights Declaration (International Declaration). 2200 to 2400 words, written Assignment. Write about that Principle, while keeping in mind that you are;

  • – explaining what it means,
  • – how it was changing gradually throughout the years,
  • – how it affects people and countries,
  • – adding the sources/references used for the Assignment,
  • – adding photos and other media.

Universality and Inalienability of Human Rights

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According to the universal declaration of human rights, a fundamental human rights principle is universal and inalienable (“Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” 2020). Human rights being inalienable means that no individual or institution has the ability or power to take away the fundamental rights of any human being as declared in the universal declaration of human rights. Human rights are universal and should therefore be enjoyed by everyone in the world regardless of their social status. the universality of human rights reminds people that any human being has fundamental rights that should be respected under the law. The inalienability of rights is meant to protect minority groups and marginalized groups whose rights are often disregarded in several scenarios. Therefore, the inalienability of human rights ensures all human beings enjoy their universal rights regardless of their background, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. However, inalienability does not always apply to all rights as, under exceptional circumstances, courts of law and governments can restrict a person’s human rights.

Minority groups are the biggest beneficiaries of the principle of inalienability of human rights (Obileye et al., 2020). However, women and children have also undergone discrimination and violation of their human rights in history. Women and children are often discriminated against due to their weak nature as they did not take a stand to fight for their rights. However, the discrimination of women in society has led to various social movements such as feminism, which advocate for women’s rights. However, the universal declaration of human rights considers women and children as human beings and therefore protects them from violations of their rights. Before forming a universally accepted declaration of human rights, most governments overlooked women’s and children rights, often leaving them at the mercy of society. The declaration of human rights also enables and encourages the formation of women’s rights groups that advocate for various human rights that women are yet to enjoy, such as the right to equality entirely.

The universality of human rights enables everyone in the world to enjoy their fundamental human rights. Universality is a crucial principle of human rights that promotes equity among individuals worldwide (Balsera, 2019). The universality principle has also lowered the levels of discrimination in various societies as it requires that all human beings be given equal treatment. The right to work and the right to education are significant beneficiaries of the principle of universality and inalienability. It guarantees every human being a chance to get a job and a chance to pursue their education. Due to the universality and inalienability of human beings’ fundamental rights, ‘ various governments strive to provide their citizens with free access to healthcare and education to honour their right to education and the right to healthcare. However, the universality of human rights applies to all human beings, even prisoners, unlike the inalienability of rights, which does not apply to some members of society.

There are various circumstances in which human rights are alienable, although philosophers argue that it majorly depends on the circumstances in which the human right violation occurs (Nasr, 2020). According to the united nations human rights commission, the right to liberty is alienable if a person is found guilty of a crime or is suspected of committing a crime. The right to liberty protects all human beings from having their freedom taken away. The most affected groups by this right are immigrants, criminals, and people with mental health issues. The law does not guarantee liberty’s inalienability to these groups as their rights are generally disregarded on several occasions. Despite having a right to revolution, several individuals have been arrested and detained because of participating in a revolution, thus questioning the inalienability of the right to revolution.

The right to liberty is commonly violated by both governments and individuals in several situations. The most affected groups are suspected criminals’ immigrants and mentally challenged individuals (Deggan, 2019). Most countries have laws that permit the arrest and detention of immigrants and suspected criminals without any implications. The arrested immigrants are often detained, whereby other violations of their human rights occur despite being protected under the united nations high commissioner for refugees. Although most countries treat suspects as innocent until proven guilty, their laws allow for the arrest and detention of suspects until they pay bail or fine, after which the court can reject the bail and force the suspect to stay in remand until their court case is over. Mentally challenged individuals are also commonly harassed by several individuals, thus lowering their dignity. Mentally challenged people are also detained in mental hospitals without consent, thereby violating their human rights. Despite the formation of new laws regarding mentally challenged individuals, most countries are yet to implement the laws protecting the mentally challenged individuals in society.

History of the principle of universal and inalienable human rights.

Throughout history, various societies acknowledge that each human being has a right, although it was not written (Flowers, n.d.). Before the eighteenth-century human rights were mostly acknowledged under religious texts such as the Quran, the bible, and the Hindu Vedas. The religious books acknowledge the universality and inalienability of human rights under the golden rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. The golden rule encourages people to respect each other rights as they expect them to respect their rights, therefore inferring that everyone has equal rights. Religious texts also acknowledge the inalienability of human rights through punishing people who violate other’s human rights.

The earliest known documents acknowledging human rights are the Magna Carta 1215, the English bill of rights 1689, the French declaration of man and citizen 1789, and the American constitution and bill of rights written in 1791(Flowers, n.d.). although the documents do not acknowledge the universality of human rights globally, they do declare the rights to be universal and inalienable amongst their people as they are written to protect their citizens. These documents, however, support the discrimination of people based on race, gender, socio-economic status, and their political affiliation.  by allowing the citizens whose rights they protect to violate the rights of other citizens, the documents did not promote equality and instead encouraged dominant groups to take advantage of the authority and command they had over the minority groups. However, headed into the nineteenth century, human rights became a debatable issue, with various activists championing various rights among the minority groups.

In the nineteenth century, human rights became universal as efforts to prohibit the slave trade became more successful (“OHCHR | What are human rights,” n.d.). Minority groups such as women fighting for their rights and empowerment also played a role in making human rights universal and inalienable. In the 20th century the consequences of world war I, such as massive death, helped countries start the conversation on human rights.  the league of nations was formed as a treaty between countries after world war I. However, it was required to assist in the formation of human right laws to ensure peace would prevail, the league was mostly silent on matters about human rights. the league of nations perceived the matter of human rights as too controversial to be discussed as it would end up creating more conflict. The league also argued that since peace-loving nations created it, it does not have an obligation to create universal human rights as all the countries would naturally obey its citizens and foreigners’ human rights.

Due to the silence of the league of nations and its refusal to participate in the formation of universal and human rights, minority countries formed international treaties and a system to protect their rights under the league of nations (Flowers, n.d.). The international laws created under the treaties were deemed to be more compelling than a country’s national law. The new states at the time being part of the league of nations registered a complaint under sovereignty

(BURLEY, 2019). By requiring all countries to abide by the international laws set by the minority treaties, the minority countries were denying several states their sovereignty. The allied powers in world war I did not adhere to the international laws set under the treaties and therefore undermining the treaty and causing other countries to undermine it too. The league of nations created a petition system in which minority countries could raise petitions to the league so that they are resolved after noticing the difficulties in implementation of the international laws. However, the allied powers disregarded the several petitions raised despite having major issues regarding violation of human rights in their own countries.

After the second world war, the idea of universal and inalienable human rights emerged once more due to the horrific disasters resulting from the war (“OHCHR | What are human rights,” n.d.). The extermination of over six million Jews and persons with disabilities during the holocaust in Germany was also a significant factor motivating the establishment of rules and regulations protecting human rights worldwide. The German violated the minorities’ right to live in the holocaust, thereby causing a significant uproar in the global community. Countries globally came to a consensus to form the united nations, whose primary purpose was to foster peace and help resolve conflicts before they escalated into another world war. to achieve its goal of fostering peace, the member states of the united nations advocated for the development of human rights standards which would be used to protect a country’s citizens from violation of their human rights by the government. The united nations were also given the power to use the human rights standard to hold the government accountable for their actions.

The united nations member states passed and accepted the universal declaration of human rights in 1948. minority groups were the biggest beneficiaries of the declaration. It promoted the universality and inalienability of human rights (Flowers, n.d.). the declaration focused on the equal treatment of human beings by stating that all human beings were born with equal dignity and rights and should therefore be treated equally and with dignity. According to Nancy flowers, over 185 countries have adopted the declaration of human rights in their constitutions, thereby making it a customary international law. Minority countries initially opposed to the international treaty under the league of nations are now supporters of the declaration as it holds all nations accountable for their crimes against humanity. International leaders have also shown support for the declaration of human rights. It has helped improve the treatment of minority groups across the world since a country can be held accountable for human rights violations’ incidences. The united nations high commissioner for human rights also actively investigates and unearthing cases of human rights violations globally, thus ensuring the human rights are universal and inalienable.

Effects of universality and inalienability of human rights to countries.

The universality and inalienability of human rights have several implications on governments worldwide due to the nature of human rights (Brubaker, 2019). Some human rights such as freedom of religion, freedom from torture, freedom of speech, and freedom of movement require that governments hinder their citizens’ actions and therefore allow their citizens to enjoy their freedoms without any fear. However, some rights such as the right to education, right to healthcare, right to work, and right to an adequate standard of living to require the government to enable its citizens to enjoy these rights actively. Without government involvement, the citizens will not enjoy some of their rights due to socio-economic limitations. Therefore, governments must participate in activities such as providing free primary education, affordable healthcare services, and the creation of employment opportunities. Without providing these services, governments promote inequality amongst their citizens, thereby disregarding the universality and inalienability of human rights since poor people will not be able to access education and healthcare; thus, they are denied their rights.

The right to education has been an important topic, especially for most countries, due to the high cost (Viljoen, n.d.). Low-income citizens worldwide are unable to afford quality education due to its high cost. Therefore, governments have a responsibility to provide affordable education in their countries to ensure the right to education is universal and unalienable(UNESCO, 2018). Several governments have also put various programs to assist their citizens in accessing quality education, such as free primary education. Some governments with a form of free education include Sri Lanka, Australia, France, Malta, and Germany. Governments also reduce the alienation of the right to education among their lower-class citizens by developing public schools in as many communities as possible, thereby increasing access to education. Development of lunch programs in schools has also led to the increase in the number of students going to school across various nations. in most countries’ governments have passed laws making it a crime not to take your children to school once they are of school-going age. The extreme measures have ensured the rights are universal and inalienable as they are enjoyed by everyone regardless of their social status, race, gender, and sexual orientation.

Another right that requires government intervention worldwide is the right to quality healthcare services (Mor, 2015). Although people have a right to access quality healthcare services, the government plays a significant role in ensuring the right to quality healthcare is universal and inalienable. Private hospitals, charge high prices for the services provided, despite providing quality healthcare services,  thereby limiting the people who can access healthcare in disregard to the universality and inalienability of human rights. the government, therefore, has to step in to provide quality but affordable healthcare services to its citizens to ensure they enjoy their rights an example of a government providing healthcare services in the Medicare program by the American government. However, the role of government in the healthcare industry is not limited to the provision of quality healthcare services. The government should also protect its citizens from exploitation by private healthcare providers. To protect its citizens from exploitation, the government acts as a regulator in the healthcare industry, ensuring the prices are not too high, thus reducing healthcare access. The government also has a responsibility to develop several hospitals in its jurisdiction to ensure every citizen can access essential healthcare services.

In conclusion, one of the fundamental principles of human rights is their universality and inalienability. The principle of universality and inalienability of human rights helps minority groups access their rights as governments must ensure their accessibility. Throughout history, documents acknowledging human rights have discriminated against women, children, and other minority groups, denying them several fundamental human rights. However, after the second world war, the formation of the united nations led to a conversation of the development of human rights standards applicable globally. The formation of the human rights standard ensures all citizens can enjoy their rights, promoting its universality and inalienability. However, the principle of universal and inalienable human rights while benefiting a country’s citizens has a high government cost. Governments often pay the price of ensuring human rights are universal and inalienable by providing amenities to ensure accessibility to these rights. Some of the rights that require government intervention to be universal and inalienable are the right to education and the right to healthcare.


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