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  • Paras Sharma

Theories Of Human Rights

Written by: Minali Gupta, Student, ITM University, Gwalior


Human Rights are basic rights and freedom. It belongs to each and every individual in the world. These are the basic rights which are based on fairness, equality, dignity, and respect. They cannot be taken away- although sometimes some of them can be restricted for a legitimate rationale.

Human Rights are also known in various terms as ‘Natural Rights’, ‘Fundamental Rights’ etc.

The Origins Of Human Rights

The modern concept of human rights emerged from Western politics and philosophy. Some of the earliest examples of Human Rights laws include Magna Carta i.e. the English legal document of 1215 and the English Bill of Rights of 1689.

Thus, the concept of Human Rights is not recent invented. Throughout history, the concept of human rights is an ethical behaviour, justice and human dignity which played an important in the development of the human societies.

· The Magna Carta of 1215 was an agreement between the English King John and barons who were unhappy with the taxation policies of the Monarch. It included clauses in the forms of rights language; it granted the barons the right to legal trial and prevented their arrest or imprisonment or outlawing or abuse or denial of ownership of property without the legal trial.

· The English Bill of Rights of 1689 was an agreement between the parliament and the King that prevented the latter from abusing the Protestants. It included clauses to prohibit tax levy by the crown and provided the right to petition the King, right to fair trial, right against cruel and unusual punishments or excessive fines, and right to parliamentary privileges (speech, votes, etc) to all the parliamentarians.

Present Scenario :

The Indian subcontinent is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic; Social and Cultural rights adopted by the UN’s General Assembly on 16 December 1966. India is a signatory to the aforesaid conventions and the human rights development embodied in the Constitution of India.

The National Human Rights Commission of India is an autonomous public body which was constituted on 12th October, 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28th September, 1993. The Act is legislated to establish the National and State Human Rights Commission and gives immense powers to the respective Commissions in furtherance of the prevention of violation of human rights within Indian boundaries.

Ø According to the Article 25 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

Classification :-

Human Rights-

Human Rights can be categorised in some of the exclusive way. Some of the rights may fall into more than one of the categories. One of the most broadly used classifications distinguishes its trendy categories: classic or Civil and political rights, social rights, monetary and cultural rights. The Classic right approach to limit the powers of the authorities in recognition of the few movement which affect the character and conferred a sense of responsibility to the people to make contribution and collective effort to frame or mould the legal guidelines of his/her country thereby, exercising their political rights. Being a member of society, everyone has right social protection and is entitled to financial social and cultural rights crucial to the dignity and overall improvement of individual’s personality.

Natural Rights -

It states all individuals have power to exercise basic rights which cannot be denied by authorities without beyond reasonable scale. The Natural Law is the bedrock of natural rights which can be exercised by people without any unreasonable interference. These laws provide society with basic rules and the regulations which are meant to be followed by every creature. When the concept of individualism advanced during the 17th century, theory of natural law changed and focussed on rights of the people and cannot be violated by anyone. Therefore, it can be inferred that the current human rights are product of ancient natural rights.

Fundamental Rights-

There are certain rights which are fundamental in nature, For example, Right to life is the basic right enjoyed by an individual. Other basic rights include to be recognized as a person, the right to equal protection under the law, and freedom from the illegal arrest and detention. These rights cannot be restricted or taken away by any authority. It is the fundamental duty of every society to protect the existence of these rights.

Legal Rights or Positive Rights-

The term ‘Legal’ refers to law i.e. rights vested with law. These rights are governed by various state and central laws, and can be exercised in case of legal damage only. Remedy offered for breach of legal rights varies from country to country and also depends upon the extent of damage.

Civil and Political Rights-

They protect an individual’s freedom from infringement by government and private bodies. These rights primarily focus on the fulfilment of basic conditions for leading a healthy and normal life. They play an important role in civilized existence and are considered very essential for the free and progressive life of an individual.

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights-

These are recognised by majority of states and deals with those categories of rights which are essential for economic, cultural and social development of an individual. It include Right to equality, Right to work, Right to establish family, Right to privacy, right to information, Right to public assistance during old age and sickness, right to health-care, Right to special care during childhood and during motherhood.


Human Rights are associated with human beings and are manipulated by several countries to suit their political scenario example: China. Though they are diversified in nature yet only few of them are recognised leaving most of them undiscovered. The various international bodies have been addressing the issue of violation of these rights since time immemorial but violations increase at an exponential rate especially in conditions of war, terrorism and even in pandemic. At present, violation can be observed at multiple instances like exploitation of labours, child pornography, sexual harassment and even many more. There is a dire need to address these issues otherwise human rights might lose their existence and remain limited to scriptures.


  1. "National Human Rights Commission of India" by A.K. Palai





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