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7/28/2016 QuestionsandanswersaboutHumanRightsCouncilofEurope

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QUESTIONSANDANSWERSABOUTHUMANRIGHTS

Question:Whatarehumanrights?

Humanrightsaremoralentitlementsthateveryindividualintheworldpossessessimplyinvirtueofthefactthatheorsheisahumanbeing.Inclaimingour
humanrights,wearemakingamoralclaim,normallyonourowngovernment,thatyoucannotdothat,becauseitisaviolationofmymoralsphereandmy
personaldignity.Noonenoindividual,nogovernmentcanevertakeawayourhumanrights.

Question:Wheredotheycomefrom?

Theycomefromthefactthatwearenotonlyphysicalbeings,butalsomoralandspiritualhumanbeings.Humanrightsareneededtoprotectandpreserve
everyindividual'shumanity,toensurethateveryindividualcanlivealifeofdignityandalifethatisworthyofahumanbeing.
COMPASS
Question:Why"should"anyonerespectthem?
ManualforHumanRightsEducation
Fundamentally,becauseeveryoneisahumanbeingandthereforeamoralbeing.Themajorityofindividuals,ifshownthattheyareviolatingsomeoneelse's withYoungPeople
personaldignity,willtrytorefrain.Ingeneral,peopledonotwanttohurtotherpeople.However,inadditiontothemoralsanctionsofone'sownconscienceor
thatofothers,thereisnowlegislationinmostcountriesoftheworldwhichobligesgovernmentstorespectthebasichumanrightsofcitizens,evenwhenthey CHAPTERS
maybeunwillingtodoso.
Chapter1HumanRights
Question:Whohashumanrights?
EducationandCompass:an
Absolutelyeveryone.Criminals,headsofstate,children,men,women,Africans,Americans,Europeans,refugees,statelesspersons,theunemployed,thosein introduction
employment,bankers,thoseaccusedofcarryingoutactsofterrorism,charityworkers,teachers,dancers,astronauts...
Chapter2PracticalActivities
Question:Evencriminalsandheadsofstate? andMethodsforHumanRights
Education

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7/28/2016 QuestionsandanswersaboutHumanRightsCouncilofEurope

Absolutelyeveryone.Criminalsandheadsofstatearehumanstoo.Thepowerofhumanrightsliesintheveryfactthattheytreateveryoneasequalintermsof
Chapter3TakingActionfor
possessinghumandignity.Somepeoplemayhaveviolatedtherightsofothersormayposeathreattosocietyandmaythereforeneedtohavetheirrights
HumanRights
limited in some way in order to protect others, but only within certain limits. These limits are defined as being the minimum which is necessary for a life of
humandignity.
Chapter4Understanding
Question:Whydosomegroupsrequirespecialhumanrights?Doesthismeanthattheyhavemorerightsthanothers? HumanRights

No,somegroups,suchastheRomainEuropeorDalitsandscheduledcastesinIndia,havesufferedsuchlongtermdiscriminationinoursocietiesthatthey Chapter5Background
needspecialmeasurestoenablethemtoaccessgeneralhumanrightsstandardsonanequalbasiswithothers.Yearsofinstitutionaliseddiscriminationand InformationonGlobalHuman
stereotypes, and outright hatred and obstacles, mean that just announcing generally applicable rights to them, and expecting that this is enough to ensure RightsThemes
equality,wouldbefarcical.

Question:Whydowetalkabouthumanrightsandnothumanresponsibilities? Appendices

Although some thinkers and NGOs have put forward strong arguments for the need for human responsibilities and even codes or declaration to articulate Glossary
these,thehumanrightscommunityhasgenerallybeenreticentaboutthisdebate.Thereasonisthatmanygovernmentsmakethe"granting"ofhumanrights
dependentoncertain"duties"imposedbythestateorruler,inthiswaymakingthewholeideaofrightsasbirthrightsmeaningless.However,itgoeswithout
sayingthatweneedtoactresponsiblyasindividualsandgroupstorespecttherightsofothers,nottoabusehumanrightsandtoadvancetherightsofothers
aswellasourselves.Infact,article29oftheUDHRrecognisesthat,"1.Everyonehasdutiestothecommunityinwhichalonethefreeandfulldevelopmentof
hispersonalityispossible.2.Intheexerciseofhisrightsandfreedoms,everyoneshallbesubjectonlytosuchlimitationsasaredeterminedbylawsolelyfor
thepurposeofsecuringduerecognitionandrespectfortherightsandfreedomsofothersandofmeetingthejustrequirementsofmorality,publicorderand
thegeneralwelfareinademocraticsociety.".

Question:Wholooksafterhumanrights?

Weallneedto.Thereislegislationbothatnationalandatinternationallevelswhichimposesrestrictionsonwhatgovernmentsareabletodototheircitizens
but,ifnoonepointsoutthattheiractionsareviolatinginternationalnorms,governmentscancontinuetoviolatethemwithimpunity.Asindividuals,weneednot
onlytorespecttherightsofothersinoureverydaylivesbutalsotokeepwatchonourgovernmentsandonothers.Theprotectivesystemsarethereforallof
usifweusethem.

Question:HowcanIdefendmyrights?

Trypointingoutthattheyhavebeenviolatedclaimyourrights.Lettheotherpersonknowthatyouknowtheyarenotentitledtotreatyouinthisway..Pinpoint
therelevantarticlesintheUDHR,intheECHRortheotherinternationaldocuments.Ifthereislegislationinyourowncountry,pointtothataswell.Tellothers
about it: tell the press, write to your parliamentary representative and head of state, inform any NGOs that are engaged in human rights activism. Ask their
advice.Speaktoalawyer,ifyouhavetheopportunity.Makesurethatyourgovernmentknowswhatactionyouaretaking.Makethemrealisethatyouarenot
goingtogiveup.Showthemthesupportyoucandrawon.Inthefinalanalysis,andifeverythingelsehasfailed,youmaywanttoresorttothecourts.

Question:HowdoIgototheEuropeanCourtofHumanRights?

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7/28/2016 QuestionsandanswersaboutHumanRightsCouncilofEurope

TheEuropeanConventionfortheProtectionofHumanRightsandFundamentalFreedomscontainsaprocedureforindividualcomplaints.However,thereare
strong admissibility requirements before a case can be considered. For example, you need to ensure that your complaint has already been raised in the
nationalcourtsofyourcountry(uptothehighestcourt!)beforeyoucanbringacasetotheEuropeanCourt.Ifyouwishtotry,andyoubelievethatyousatisfy
theadmissibilityrequirements,thenyoucanbringacomplaint.However,youarestronglyadvisedtoseeklegaladviceortheadviceofNGOsworkinginthe
fieldinordertobesurethatyourclaimhasarealchanceofsuccess.Beawarethatitcanbealongandcomplicatedprocessbeforeafinaljudgmentisgiven!

Question:FromwhomcanIclaimmyrights?

Nearlyallthebasichumanrightsthatarelistedintheinternationaldocumentsareclaimsagainstyourgovernment,orstateofficials.Humanrightsprotectyour
interestsagainstthestate,soyouneedtoclaimthemfromthestateorfromtheirrepresentatives.Ifyoufeelthatyourrightsarebeingviolatedby,forexample,
your employer or your neighbour, you cannot resort directly to international human rights legislation unless there is also something the government of the
countryoughttohavedonetopreventemployersorneighboursfrombehavinginthisway.

Question:Doesanyonehaveadutytoprotectmyrights?

Yes.Arightismeaninglesswithoutacorrespondingresponsibilityordutyonsomeoneelse'spart.Everyindividualhasamoraldutynottoviolateyourpersonal
dignitybutyourgovernment,insigninguptointernationalagreements,hasnotjustamoraldutybutalsoalegalduty.

Question:Arehumanrightsonlyaprobleminnondemocraticcountries?

Thereisnocountryintheworldthathasacompletelycleanrecordonhumanrights,eventoday.Theremaybemorefrequentviolationsinsomecountries
thanothersortheymayaffectalargerproportionofthepopulation,buteverysingleviolationisaproblemthatoughtnottohavehappenedandthatneedsto
bedealtwith.Anindividualwhoserightsareviolatedinoneoftheestablisheddemocraciesishardlylikelytobecomfortedbythefactthat,ingeneral,their
countryhasa"better"recordonhumanrightsthanothercountriesintheworld!

Question:Havewemadeanyprogressinreducinghumanrightsviolations?

Greatprogressevenifitsometimesseemsameredropintheocean.Considertheabolitionofslavery,thevoteforwomen,thecountriesthathaveabolished
thedeathpenalty,thefreeingofprisonersofconscienceasaresultofinternationalpressure,thecollapseoftheapartheidregimeinSouthAfrica,thecases
that have been tried before the European Court and the laws that have had to be changed as a result. Consider the fact that the gradual change in
international culture means that even the most authoritarian regimes now have to take human rights into consideration in order to be accepted on the
internationalstage.Therehavebeenmanypositiveresults,particularlyoverthepast50years,butagreatdealmoreremainstobedone.

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