Human rights are fundamental rights and freedoms that are intrinsic to every person by virtue of their status as a human being.
In this sense, human rights are said to be ‘inalienable’ because they can neither be given to a person, nor can they be taken away from them.
Human rights are universal norms in the sense that they are recognised by the international community as intrinsic to every person irrespective of their national, cultural, political, geographic, social, religious or temporal context and any other personal characteristics, such as gender, race, sexuality, age, or disability. They are norms applicable to all persons, at all times, in all societies.
Of course, this does not mean that human rights are not violated. However, the violation of a human right denies a person the ability to enjoy or attain the right: it does not disentitle the person to the respect, protection and fulfilment of the right.
Governments have a fundamental responsibility to avoid human right violations and to immediately remedy such violations when they do occur.
Find out more about our campaigns about human rights issues.