Today is International Human Rights Day and marks the 68th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly. Although it is a fascinating document and represents the first expression of a universal approach to human rights, it really isn’t the document you should have in mind when thinking about your rights.
Instead, you should be thinking about the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Ratified by the General Assembly in 1966, it is essentially the legally binding version of the 1948 UDHR, though admittedly not as ambitious. As an Australian you can’t hope to crush a government bill simply by referencing it, but the Australian Human Rights commission does have a duty to investigate violations of the document and so it does have the potential to be a powerful tool.
Below is a summary of the 27 articles in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which contain rights. If you are interested in reading the document in its entirety, it can be found here.
The right to self-determination, the rights of peoples to freely own, trade and dispose of their natural wealth and resources.
The right to legal recourse when their rights have been violated, even if the violator was acting in an official capacity.
The right to equality between men and women in the realising of their civil and political rights.
The right to life.
The freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The freedom from slavery, servitude and forced labour, .
The right to liberty and security of the person and freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention.
The freedom from prison due to debt.
Freedom of movement inside a country and the right to leave a country.
The right to equality before the law; the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and to have a fair and public hearing by an impartial tribunal.
The right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
The right to privacy and its protection by the law.
The freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
The freedom of opinion and expression.
Prohibition of propaganda advocating war or national, racial or religious hatred.
The right to peaceful assembly.
The right to freedom of association.
The right to marry and found a family
The rights for children (status as minors, nationality, registration and name).
The right to participate in the conduct of public affairs, to vote and to be elected and access to public service.
The right to equality before the law and equal protection
The right, for members of religious, ethnic or linguistic minorities, to enjoy their culture, practice their religion and use their language.
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