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The Purpose of Human Rights is to Protect Certain Fundamental Interests of Citizens From the Power of the State - Essay Example

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Essay Topic: The purpose of human rights is to protect certain fundamental interests of citizens from the power of the state. The purpose of private law is to facilitate the activities of free and equal citizens. The two should not be confused. Discuss Introduction The purpose of human rights or fundamental rights is distinguished from the purpose of private law in that the former protects citizens from excessive state power and the latter regulates relationships between private parties.1 More significantly, human rights have followed a human rights movement in the 20th century that involved a universal code for human rights and private law was said to be best served at the national level, an…
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The Purpose of Human Rights is to Protect Certain Fundamental Interests of Citizens From the Power of the State
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Download file to see previous pages d reflected of individual national values and traits. Even so, in more recent times there has been a movement toward the creation of universal private law, largely consistent with and reflective of universal human right.2 Despite this emerging parallel, the purpose of private law and the purpose of human rights are entirely different. This paper identifies the key differences between private law and human rights by examining their respective purposes. The Purpose of Human Rights The term human rights originate from the term “natural rights” and typically involve the term “universal rights”.3 Thus, natural and universal rights are embodiments of the political and moral thought that certain freedoms and rights are automatic to all individuals for the simple reason that they are all human beings.4 In fact, Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (UDHR)informs that, “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.5 Article 2 goes on to state that: everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.6 It can therefore be concluded from Articles 1 and 2 of the UDHR, that the purpose of human rights is to identify and describe the natural rights of mankind and to direct states to take measures that are appropriate for safeguarding and promoting those rights. Fagan confirms this conclusion by observing that both interest and choice theories of human rights agree that human rights are intended to “protect and promote the conditions for a certain quality of life for all”.7 The justification and purpose of human rights was motivated by the human atrocities committed by the state (Germany) during the Second World War. Thus ultimately, human rights as described by the UDHR seek to place constraints on the state’s ability to use its power against the dignity of its citizens. In this regard, liberal theory is instructive. According to liberal theory, state sovereignty dictates that all political and public authority belongs to the state. Therefore it is the state’s ultimate responsibility to protect and promote the natural rights and dignity of citizens within its state’s borders.8 Human rights are intended to recognize the vulnerability of human citizens to the authority of the state and to offer a method by which human citizens can be strengthened and can thus make claims against a state that seeks to exploit its own power and the vulnerability of the citizens within its territory.9 Donnelly explains that human rights identify common human values while private law embodies the underlying values that human beings do not have an automatic right to.10 Donnelly specifically states: Human rights are not just abstract values such as liberty, equality, and security. They are rights, particular social practices to realize those rights. A human right thus should not be confused with the values or aspirations underlying it or with enjoyment of the object of the right.11 For example the universal right against arbitrary capital punishment may be enjoyed independent of any universal human rights regime and quite simply because of underlying custom, practice or religious or moral codes. Human rights ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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