Human rights principles

This page describes the key principles that apply to human rights and how these relate to the rights of children and young people. The international community has established a set of principles or characteristics that apply to human rights. By signing up to international human rights conventions each State agrees to these and to abide by them:

Human rights are inalienable

  • They cannot be taken away from people.
  • In some circumstances your human rights can be suspended or restricted (e.g. your liberty can be taken away if you commit a crime or your freedom of movement can be restricted in times of civil unrest).

Human rights are independent, indivisible and inter-related

  • All the different human rights are important and necessary for all human beings.
  • No one right is more important than the rest.
  • They are connected and cannot be viewed in isolation from each other.
  • The enjoyment of one right depends upon the enjoyment of many other rights.

Human rights are universal

  • They belong to everybody in the world.
  • They apply equally to all people everywhere in the world without time limit or discrimination.

Other important human rights principles have been usefully captured by the acronym FREDA, Fairness, Respect, Equality, Dignity and Autonomy.

Useful links

A historical outline

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