What are Human Rights?
Human rights are rights every person has simply for being human, and they are Universal, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status, we share these freedoms as human beings.
We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination.
These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.
Human rights are based on the principle of respect for the individual. Their fundamental assumption is that each person is a moral and rational being who deserves to be treated with dignity. Whereas nations or specialized groups enjoy specific rights that apply only to them, human rights are the rights to which everyone is entitled—no matter who they are or where they live—simply because they are alive.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes that individual rights or freedoms are all connected, and that by assuring the protection of one freedom, we strengthen the rights of all! They include the right to move freely without fear and persecution, to live free from discrimination, to pray to your God, to think freely, consciously, creatively and express your ideas, to form a family, as association, the right to have a culture and celebrate it, to have an education, and the right to work with just labor conditions, among many others.
The idea of “human rights” has not always existed. During World War II, there were wide spread abuses and oppression of the people, millions were killed, and cities throughout Europe and Asia were left in ruins. In 1945, fifty-one countries met for a conference to create an international body to promote peace and prevent future wars; they formed the United Nations International Organization. Under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt, the UN commission crafted and adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. Today there are 192 Member States and numerous conventions focusing on migrant rights, the rights of women and children, racial discrimination, slavery, and other freedoms.
Sources: United for Human rights www.humanrights.com. United Nations,
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, www.ohchr.org
What are human rights violations?
A human rights violation is when the policies and practices of a country, state, or government, take away or violate one of the necessary basic human rights to live with dignity.
The United Nations can speak out and advocate for issues when they believe human rights are being affected in the policies or practices of a country. For example, after the passage of SB1070 in Arizona, the UN spoke out several times for immigrants in Arizona and the United States:
In Northern Washington State, common human rights violations occur when harsh immigration enforcement separates families and causes communities to live in fear, when workers endure unjust labor conditions and practices, and when people are discriminated against and profiled for the way they look or religious garments they wear. Other basic rights of concern include incarceration and detention, housing, and education, among others.
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What can you do? Here are 3 steps to protect immigrant and human rights in your community:
- Organize: Form a small group of community members who would like to be a Human Rights Team for your church, organization, workplace, school or neighborhood. You can also join a OneAmerica base group in Snohomish, Skagit, or Whatcom County.
- Educate your team, your family, your community!
- Document and share.