Speech on International Human Rights Day, 10 December 2010 at Centro Escolar University

Definition of Human Rights

Human rights, as the term suggests, are rights which human beings have, simply because they are human. In legal terms, human rights are the freedoms, the immunities, and benefits that, according to modern international values, all human beings should be able to claim as a matter of right in the society in which they live. They cannot be bought nor bargained away. Human rights are rights inherent to all without distinction. There are various kinds of human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.1

Human rights are also considered as international norms that protect all people from severe political, legal, and social abuses. They are addressed primarily to governments, requiring compliance and enforcement.2 These international norms become part of international law, in the form of treaties or international agreements. Once a state becomes a party to a human rights treaty, that state assumes obligations and duties to respect, to protect and to fulfill human rights.

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