Respect for Human Rights

Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others.

~ Isocrates

The third principle we are going to discuss in this unit is that of respect for human rights. As we have already seen at the beginning of this unit, there is a powerful connection between human rights and democracy. You may remember the three categories of rights from Unit 2:

  • Civil and political rights are sometimes also referred to as ‘liberty rights’, since they provide protection from state violations of the individual.
  • Economic and social rights are called ‘equality rights’ because they seek to guarantee access to essential social and economic goods, services and opportunities for all.
  • Collective rights are also called ‘fraternity rights’ because they propose new forms of national and international co-operation and solidarity.

Clearly if liberty, equality and fraternity are embodied in democracy, then a broad understanding of human rights is also central.

As Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights suggests, we should all ‘act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood’ and sisterhood. We all have a duty to respect each others’ rights.