What are the Human Rights that are recognized Internationally?

UN Human Rights Law Insider

By Krishna Kant Choubey

Published on: February 10, 2024 at 00:10 IST

The concept of international human rights provides a light of common values and goals for the global community. The international human rights system, which emerged during the World War II and the awful acts committed during that conflict, attempts to protect every individual’s inherent dignity and worth. Its foundation is an understanding that all people, regardless of nationality, race, sex, or other characteristics, have the right to a set of fundamental rights and liberties.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, is a fundamental document that expresses the universality of human rights. It establishes a complete set of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights that form the foundation of human dignity. The enactment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights represented a historic moment when nations came together to declare a commitment to preserve individuals’ rights and freedoms, beyond geographical and cultural barriers.

The purpose of this article is to explore the diverse areas of international human rights, particularly the main treaties and conventions intended to codify and safeguard these rights. From the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), these instruments serve as the foundation of the international human rights architecture, outlining states’ obligations and enforcement mechanisms.

It will look into the roles of international institutions like the United Nations Human Rights Council and the International Court of Justice in upholding and adjudicating human rights principles on a worldwide basis.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was approved by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, following World War II. The declaration was a reaction to the horrific events done during the war, and it aimed to establish a universal standard of human rights for all people, regardless of nationality, race, or any other distinguishing characteristic. Its adoption was a turning point in international relations, as states joined together to pledge their commitment to the protection of fundamental human rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights consists of a preamble and 30 articles that express a wide variety of rights and principles. The UDHR addresses several essential principles and rights, including:

  • Inherent Dignity

The preamble recognizes the “inherent dignity” and “equal and inherent rights of all members of the human family” as the basis for freedom, justice, and peace.

  • Equality and Non-Discrimination

Article 1 states that all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights, highlighting the idea of non-discrimination.

  • Right to Life, Liberty and Security

Article 3 states that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person.” This fundamental right underscores the intrinsic value of every individual and their entitlement to life, freedom, and personal security.”

Article 4 states that “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” This article explicitly prohibits slavery and any form of forced labor, emphasizing the inherent right to be free from exploitation.”

Article 9 states that “You have the right to freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention, and eviction. You cannot be arrested, imprisoned, or expelled from your nation without a valid reason.”

  • Freedom from Torture and Slavery

Article 5 states “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.” This article unequivocally condemns torture and any form of inhumane or degrading treatment, highlighting the commitment to preserving human dignity.”

Article 4 states that slavery, reinforcing the absolute prohibition of practices that strip individuals of their freedom and subject them to servitude.

  • Right to Recognition as a Person before the Law

Article 6 states that “Everyone has the right to be recognized everywhere as a person before the law.” This article claims the right of individuals to be legally recognized as persons, emphasizing equality and protection under the law, regardless of their background or status.

  • Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion

Article 18 states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of mind, conscience, and religion; this right includes the freedom to change his religion or belief, as well as the freedom to express his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance, whether alone or in community with others, in public or in private.” This article protects individuals’ freedom to hold and exercise their beliefs while encouraging tolerance and diversity.

  • Freedom of Expression

Article 19 states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Article 19 protects the essential rights of individuals to express their opinions and access information without undue restrictions, fostering open discourse and the free flow of ideas.”

  • Right to Work, Education and Social Security

Article 22 states that “Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and has a right to the fulfillment of the economic, social, and cultural rights necessary for his dignity and the free development of his personality through national effort and international cooperation, and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State.” These articles support the right to labor, education, and social security as necessary components of a dignified and meaningful existence.

Article 23 states that “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.”

Article 26 states that “Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages.”

  • Right to Participate in Government

Article 21 states that “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.” This article underscores the importance of political participation, either directly or through elected representatives, ensuring that individuals have a say in the governance of their nation.”

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), is an essential component of the International Bill of Human Rights. The ICESCR, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966 and went into effect on January 3, 1976, addresses economic, social, and cultural rights that are important to human dignity and well-being.

  • Right to Work

Article 6 of ICESCR states the importance of individuals having the freedom to choose their employment without coercion, discrimination, or undue restrictions. This includes the right to have the opportunity to gain a living by work that is freely chosen.

  • Right to Just and Favorable Conditions of Work

Article 7 states the principle of equal remuneration for work of equal value, recognizing the importance of gender based wage discrimination. This article notes down the various aspects such as fair wages, reasonable working and safe working conditions.

  • Right to Social Security

Article 9 states that protection of individuals and families from poverty and ensuring access to basic needs during the period of unemployment, illness, disabilities or other circumstances. This includes the right to access social insurance and other forms of social protection.

  • Right to an Adequate Standard of Living

Article 11 states the importance of addressing fundamental aspects of human well-being, ensuring that individuals can meet their basic need of survival and dignity. This article recognizes the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living, which encompasses the right to adequate food, clothing, and housing.

  • Right to Health

Article 12 states that access to healthcare services, essential medicines, sanitation, and a healthy environment. The covenant recognizes health as a fundamental aspect of human well-being. This article includes the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

  • Right to Education

Article 13 states the right to education is viewed as a means to empower individuals, promote equality, and contribute to the development of a society that values knowledge and learning. This article includes the right to compulsory and free primary education, as well as access to higher education.

  • Right to Participate in Cultural Life

Article 15 states the importance of cultural diversity, creativity, and the contributions of individuals to the cultural and scientific heritage of society. This article includes the right of everyone to participate in cultural life, enjoy the benefits of scientific progress, and benefit from the protection of moral and material interests resulting from scientific, literary, or artistic productions.

Enforcement Mechanisms of the Internation Human Rights

Enforcement mechanisms for international human rights aim to ensure compliance with established regulations while also providing passage for responsibility when violations occur. Here’s an overview of significant enforcement mechanisms in the field of international human rights:

  • United Nations Human Rights Council

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), formed in 2006, is the primary international body in charge of advocating for and protecting human rights. It conducts the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which evaluates the human rights records of UN member nations. The UNHRC appoints Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts to look into and report on specific human rights issues or themes.

  • International Court of Justice

The ICJ resolves legal disputes between states and provides advisory opinions on legal problems raised by UN organs and specialized entities.

  • International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court (ICC) investigates persons for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and aggression. It enhances national jurisdictions and functions when national systems are hesitant or unable to prosecute.

Organizations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and others work to preserve specific rights within their powers.

International organizations, foundations, and advocacy groups launch campaigns and projects to address global human rights issues and raise awareness.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a crucial document in international human rights, promoting the protection of individual dignity and rights. It serves as the foundation for treaties like the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which form a comprehensive framework for civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. Enforcement mechanisms like international courts are essential in holding nations accountable for their rights. The UDHR remains a guiding force, urging nations to uphold their inalienable rights.

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