Human rights are claims to entitlements that are held to be morally defensible regardless of the law in any particular sovereign state. They are often thought to be universal — that is, defensible for all people everywhere, regardless of local cultural and historical circumstances. Rights are claims for action or inaction against institutions capable of meeting such claims. They are extensively claims against the state which has the power to prevent violations of human rights by its own agencies or other powerful social and economic institutions, such as organized religion or industrial corporations. Rights claim that others should act in a particular way, or refrain from acting in ways which restrict the enjoyment of what is claimed, such as freedom of speech. Rights logically imply duties, again normally on the part of states or their governments. They are part of a relationship governed by moral rules (Plamenatz, 1968). Historically human rights have always constituted a challenge to the prevailing political order, nationally or (increasingly today) globally.
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- Human Rights
B. C. Smith
- Macmillan Education UK
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