One of the challenges to studying civil and human rights is that rights language is used, sometimes very casually, in many contexts in everyday life. People speak, for example, of having a right to have a seat on the subway or a right to do illegal things as long as they don’t hurt anyone. In the areas of health, civil and human rights, these rights refer mainly to rights that are articulated in treaties that are global in scope, managed under the stewardship of the United Nations, as well as similar regional treaties overseen by inter-governmental bodies in the Americas, Europe and Africa, and in further consideration of each country’s common and statutory laws protecting the rights and liberties of its citizens and residents.
These rights are the rights one has simply by virtue of being a human being. They are legally guaranteed and cannot be waived or taken away. Other qualities of human rights:
They are universal in that they are enjoyed by all human beings without exception, across all borders and cultures.
They are indivisible in that a person has some rights but not others. Related to their indivisibility, they are interdependent, or, as it is sometimes said, people who have adequate food and shelter still do not enjoy their rights if they cannot vote or express themselves freely (and vice versa).
Human rights, which many times encompass and overlap with the breach of civil and health rights, may generally be thought of as a system of claims made by individuals on governments or against private entities – claims that are associated with obligations that are encoded in law.
Human rights constitute an important framework for understanding determinants of health outcomes and for framing effective health programs and policies. Human rights violations can be an important part of poor health outcomes just as respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights can contribute to good health in many ways. It is important to understand that human rights principles should be part of the tools and ideas contributing to the design, implementation and evaluation of programs and policies which in turn improve societal structure.
“Rights are either God-given as part of the divine plan, or they are granted by government as part of the political plan. If we accept the premise that human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing to accept the corollary that they can be denied by government.”
“The humanity of all Americans is diminished when any group is denied rights granted to others.” ― Julian Bond
“No matter how pathetic or pitiful, every human is fated to have one moment in their lives in which they can change their own destiny.”
“The amount of violations of human rights in a country is always an inverse function of the amount of complaints about human rights violations heard from there. The greater the number of complaints being aired, the better protected are human rights in that country.” ― Daniel Patrick Moynihan
“It is undeniable that every human being is entitled to living space, daily bread, and the protection of the law as a common birthright; these are fundamentals and should not be handed out as an act of charity. ” ― Alfred Delp, S.J.
“The true civilization is where every man gives to every other man every right he claims for himself.” ― Robert G. Ingersoll
“It might be depressing, but it’s also the truth that no one has the power, the money, or the resources to save everyone on the planet from going hungry, living in poverty or allowed basic human rights. But consider the other side of this: there are people in this world who truly WOULD do all of these things for everyone if only they could. There is hope after all.” ― Ashly Lorenzana
“The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” ― John F. Kennedy