The Sanctity of Life
The basic instinct for survival, for life is a natural one. It is innate within all of us. When human beings see danger, the natural inclination is to avoid it. When any harm is put in our way, the natural inclination is to avoid it. This basic instinct for survival does not have any cultural or border barriers. It does not have to be taught. Even a child, when presented with harm, for example, when poked with a pin, has the natural instinct to cry. The basic human right is the right to life.
Beyond the basic concept of human right to life, is the concept of HUMAN DIGNITY. This concept is as old as the history of humankind and exists in various forms in all cultures and religions. No matter what part of the world, no matter what cultural context and no matter what history, and no matter if the phrase “human dignity/ human rights” exists or not in the local language, it can be said that there existed and exist to this day an overriding moral sense that all human beings should be able to lead life in dignity, meaning that it should not be a life of deprivation. Human rights are essentially about our right to live life as human beings. Human rights can be understood as defining those basic standards necessary for a life in dignity to be free from fear and to be free from want. Human rights ultimately are moral claims resting on moral values because there are certain aspects of our life, our being, that are not violable and that no one should touch because it is essential to our humanity and our human dignity.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The UDHR was adopted by the General Assembly on the 10 December 1948 was a landmark for human rights. It was a landmark for human rights because it was the first major attempt at the international level to codify and protect individual human rights of all human beings on the planet. Moreover, with the UDHR and instruments that followed, governments agreed to be bound by international regulation. With the UDHR, the international community established a set of key principles that states have agreed upon and have to abide by.
Important Characteristics of Human Rights
Human rights are living instruments and debate about their nature and characteristics is ongoing. To date, the international community has established a set of key principles that states have agreed upon and have to abide by. According to these principles:
a) Human rights are inalienable. This means that you cannot lose them, because they are linked to the very fact of human existence. It also means that it is not possible to trade/ negotiate them.
b) They are indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. This means that different human rights are intrinsically connected and cannot be viewed in isolation from each other. The enjoyment of one right depends on the enjoyment of many other rights and no one right is more important than the rest. The violation of one human right impacts other human rights.
c) They are universal, which means that they apply equally to all people everywhere in the world, and with no time limit. Every individual is entitled to enjoy his or her human rights without distinction of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, birth, sexual orientation, health or other status. The universality of human rights does not in any way threaten the rich diversity of individuals or of different cultures. Diversity can still exist in a world where everyone is equal, and equally deserving of respect.