Civil and political rights

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Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. They ensure one's entitlement to participate in the civil and political life of society and the state without discrimination or repression.

Contents

Civil rights include the ensuring of peoples' physical and mental integrity, life, and safety; protection from discrimination on grounds such as sex, race, sexual orientation, national origin, color, age, political affiliation, ethnicity, social class, religion, and disability; [1] [2] [3] and individual rights such as privacy and the freedom of thought, speech, religion, press, assembly, and movement.

Political rights include natural justice (procedural fairness) in law, such as the rights of the accused, including the right to a fair trial; due process; the right to seek redress or a legal remedy; and rights of participation in civil society and politics such as freedom of association, the right to assemble, the right to petition, the right of self-defense, and the right to vote.

Civil and political rights form the original and main part of international human rights. [4] They comprise the first portion of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (with economic, social, and cultural rights comprising the second portion). The theory of three generations of human rights considers this group of rights to be "first-generation rights", and the theory of negative and positive rights considers them to be generally negative rights.

History

The phrase "civil rights" is a translation of Latin jus civis (right of the citizen). Roman citizens could be either free (libertas) or servile (servitus), but they all had rights in law. [5] After the Edict of Milan in 313, these rights included the freedom of religion; however, in 380, the Edict of Thessalonica required all subjects of the Roman Empire to profess Catholic Christianity. [6] Roman legal doctrine was lost during the Middle Ages, but claims of universal rights could still be made based on Christian doctrine. According to the leaders of Kett's Rebellion (1549), "all bond men may be made free, for God made all free with his precious blood-shedding." [7]

In the 17th century, English common law judge Sir Edward Coke revived the idea of rights based on citizenship by arguing that Englishmen had historically enjoyed such rights. The Parliament of England adopted the English Bill of Rights in 1689. It was one of the influences drawn on by George Mason and James Madison when drafting the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776. The Virginia declaration is the direct ancestor and model for the U.S. Bill of Rights (1789).[ citation needed ]

The removal by legislation of a civil right constitutes a "civil disability". In early 19th century Britain, the phrase "civil rights" most commonly referred to the issue of such legal discrimination against Catholics. In the House of Commons support for civil rights was divided, with many politicians agreeing with the existing civil disabilities of Catholics. The Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 restored their civil rights.[ citation needed ]

In the United States, the term civil rights has been associated with the civil rights movement (1954-1968), which fought against racism.[ citation needed ]

Protection of rights

T. H. Marshall notes that civil rights were among the first to be recognized and codified, followed later by political rights and still later by social rights. In many countries, they are constitutional rights and are included in a bill of rights or similar document. They are also defined in international human rights instruments, such as the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Civil and political rights need not be codified to be protected. However, most democracies worldwide do have formal written guarantees of civil and political rights. Civil rights are considered to be natural rights. Thomas Jefferson wrote in his A Summary View of the Rights of British America that "a free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate."

The question of to whom civil and political rights apply is a subject of controversy. Although in many countries citizens have greater protections against infringement of rights than non-citizens, civil and political rights are generally considered to be universal rights that apply to all persons.

According to political scientist Salvador Santino F. Regilme Jr., analyzing the causes of and lack of protection from human rights abuses in the Global South should be focusing on the interactions of domestic and international factors—an important perspective that has usually been systematically neglected in the social science literature. [8]

Other rights

Custom also plays a role. Implied or unenumerated rights are rights that courts may find to exist even though not expressly guaranteed by written law or custom; one example is the right to privacy in the United States, and the Ninth Amendment explicitly shows that there are other rights that are also protected.

The United States Declaration of Independence states that people have unalienable rights including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". It is considered by some that the sole purpose of government is the protection of life, liberty and property. [9]

Some thinkers have argued that the concepts of self-ownership and cognitive liberty affirm rights to choose the food one eats, [10] [11] the medicine one takes, [12] [13] [14] and the habit one indulges. [15] [16] [17]

Social movements for civil rights

Savka Dabcevic-Kucar, Croatian Spring participant; Europe's first female prime minister Savka Dabcevic Kucar.jpg
Savka Dabčević-Kučar, Croatian Spring participant; Europe's first female prime minister

Civil rights guarantee equal protection under the law. When civil and political rights are not guaranteed to all as part of equal protection of laws, or when such guarantees exist on paper but are not respected in practice, opposition, legal action and even social unrest may ensue.

Civil rights movements in the United States gathered steam by 1848 with such documents as the Declaration of Sentiment. [18] [ full citation needed ] Consciously modeled after the Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments became the founding document of the American women's movement, and it was adopted at the Seneca Falls Convention, July 19 and 20, 1848. [19] [ full citation needed ]

Worldwide, several political movements for equality before the law occurred between approximately 1950 and 1980. These movements had a legal and constitutional aspect, and resulted in much law-making at both national and international levels. They also had an activist side, particularly in situations where violations of rights were widespread. Movements with the proclaimed aim of securing observance of civil and political rights included:

Most civil rights movements relied on the technique of civil resistance, using nonviolent methods to achieve their aims. [20] In some countries, struggles for civil rights were accompanied, or followed, by civil unrest and even armed rebellion. While civil rights movements over the last sixty years have resulted in an extension of civil and political rights, the process was long and tenuous in many countries, and many of these movements did not achieve or fully achieve their objectives.

Problems and analysis

Questions about civil and political rights have frequently emerged. For example, to what extent should the government intervene to protect individuals from infringement on their rights by other individuals, or from corporations—e.g., in what way should employment discrimination in the private sector be dealt with?

Political theory deals with civil and political rights. Robert Nozick and John Rawls expressed competing visions in Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia and Rawls' A Theory of Justice . Other influential authors in the area include Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld, and Jean Edward Smith.

First-generation rights

First-generation rights, often called "blue" rights,[ citation needed ] deal essentially with liberty and participation in political life. They are fundamentally civil and political in nature, as well as strongly individualistic: They serve negatively to protect the individual from excesses of the state. First-generation rights include, among other things, freedom of speech, the right to a fair trial, (in some countries) the right to keep and bear arms, freedom of religion, freedom from discrimination, and voting rights. They were pioneered in the seventeenth and eighteenth-century during the Age of Enlightenment. Political theories associated with the English, American, and French revolutions were codified in the English Bill of Rights in 1689 (a restatement of Rights of Englishmen, some dating back to Magna Carta in 1215) and more fully in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in 1789 and the United States Bill of Rights in 1791. [21] [22]

They were enshrined at the global level and given status in international law first by Articles 3 to 21 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and later in the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In Europe, they were enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights in 1953.

Civil and political rights organizations

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There are current organizations that exist to protect people's civil and political rights in case they are infringed upon. The ACLU, founded in 1920, is a well-known non-profit organization that helps to preserve freedom of speech and works to change policy. [23] Another organization is the NAACP, founded in 1909, which focuses on protecting the civil rights of minorities. The NRA is a civil rights group founded in 1871 that primarily focuses on protecting the right to bear arms. These organizations serve a variety of causes one being the AFL-CIO, which is America's union that represent the working-class people nationwide. [24]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Human rights</span> Fundamental rights inherent in all humans

Human rights are moral principles or norms for certain standards of human behaviour and are regularly protected in municipal and international law. They are commonly understood as inalienable, fundamental rights "to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being" and which are "inherent in all human beings", regardless of their age, ethnic origin, location, language, religion, ethnicity, or any other status. They are applicable everywhere and at every time in the sense of being universal, and they are egalitarian in the sense of being the same for everyone. They are regarded as requiring empathy and the rule of law and imposing an obligation on persons to respect the human rights of others, and it is generally considered that they should not be taken away except as a result of due process based on specific circumstances.

Civil liberties are guarantees and freedoms that governments commit not to abridge, either by constitution, legislation, or judicial interpretation, without due process. Though the scope of the term differs between countries, civil liberties may include the freedom of conscience, freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the right to security and liberty, freedom of speech, the right to privacy, the right to equal treatment under the law and due process, the right to a fair trial, and the right to life. Other civil liberties include the right to own property, the right to defend oneself, and the right to bodily integrity. Within the distinctions between civil liberties and other types of liberty, distinctions exist between positive liberty/positive rights and negative liberty/negative rights.

Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory. Rights are of essential importance in such disciplines as law and ethics, especially theories of justice and deontology.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights</span> Treaty adopted by United Nations General Assembly in 1965

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a multilateral treaty that commits states parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial. It was adopted by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2200A (XXI) on 16 December 1966 and entered into force 23 March 1976 after its thirty-fifth ratification or accession. As of June 2022, the Covenant has 173 parties and six more signatories without ratification, most notably the People's Republic of China and Cuba; North Korea is the only state that has tried to withdraw.

Freedom of association encompasses both an individual's right to join or leave groups voluntarily, the right of the group to take collective action to pursue the interests of its members, and the right of an association to accept or decline membership based on certain criteria. It can be described as the right of a person coming together with other individuals to collectively express, promote, pursue and/or defend common interests. Freedom of association is both an individual right and a collective right, guaranteed by all modern and democratic legal systems, including the United States Bill of Rights, article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and international law, including articles 20 and 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 22 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work by the International Labour Organization also ensures these rights.

The division of human rights into three generations was initially proposed in 1979 by the Czech jurist Karel Vasak at the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg. He used the term at least as early as November 1977. Vasak's theories have primarily taken root in European law.

Freedom of movement, mobility rights, or the right to travel is a human rights concept encompassing the right of individuals to travel from place to place within the territory of a country, and to leave the country and return to it. The right includes not only visiting places, but changing the place where the individual resides or works.

Economic, social and cultural rights are socio-economic human rights, such as the right to education, right to housing, right to an adequate standard of living, right to health, victims' rights and the right to science and culture. Economic, social and cultural rights are recognised and protected in international and regional human rights instruments. Member states have a legal obligation to respect, protect and fulfil economic, social and cultural rights and are expected to take "progressive action" towards their fulfilment.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles and Fundamental Duties of India</span> Rights provided to Indian citizens

The Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Duties' are sections of the Constitution of India that prescribe the fundamental obligations of the states to its citizens and the duties and the rights of the citizens to the State. These sections are considered vital elements of the constitution, which was developed between 1949 by the Constituent Assembly of India.

Fundamental rights are a group of rights that have been recognized by a high degree of protection from encroachment. These rights are specifically identified in a constitution, or have been found under due process of law. The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 16, established in 2015, underscores the link between promoting human rights and sustaining peace.

The right to property, or the right to own property is often classified as a human right for natural persons regarding their possessions. A general recognition of a right to private property is found more rarely and is typically heavily constrained insofar as property is owned by legal persons and where it is used for production rather than consumption.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Equality before the law</span> Judicial principle that everyone must be equally protected by the law

Equality before the law, also known as equality under the law, equality in the eyes of the law, legal equality, or legal egalitarianism, is the principle that all people must be equally protected by the law. The principle requires a systematic rule of law that observes due process to provide equal justice, and requires equal protection ensuring that no individual nor group of individuals be privileged over others by the law. Sometimes called the principle of isonomy, it arises from various philosophical questions concerning equality, fairness and justice. Equality before the law is one of the basic principles of some definitions of liberalism. It is incompatible with legal slavery.

The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (CDHRI) is a declaration of the member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) first adopted in Cairo, Egypt, on 5 August 1990,, and later revised in 2020 and adopted on 28 November 2020. It provides an overview on the Islamic perspective on human rights. The 1990 version affirms Islamic sharia as its sole source, whereas the 2020 version doesn't specifically invoke sharia. The focus of this article is the 1990 version of the CDHRI.

Chapter Two of the Constitution of South Africa contains the Bill of Rights, a human rights charter that protects the civil, political and socio-economic rights of all people in South Africa. The rights in the Bill apply to all law, including the common law, and bind all branches of the government, including the national executive, Parliament, the judiciary, provincial governments, and municipal councils. Some provisions, such as those prohibiting unfair discrimination, also apply to the actions of private persons.

While belief in the sanctity of human life has ancient precedents in many religions of the world, the foundations of modern human rights began during the era of renaissance humanism in the early modern period. The European wars of religion and the civil wars of seventeenth-century Kingdom of England gave rise to the philosophy of liberalism and belief in natural rights became a central concern of European intellectual culture during the eighteenth-century Age of Enlightenment. Ideas of natural rights, which had a basis in natural law, lay at the core of the American and French Revolutions which occurred toward the end of that century, but the idea of human rights came about later. Democratic evolution through the nineteenth century paved the way for the advent of universal suffrage in the twentieth century. Two world wars led to the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and introduction to rights:

Bodily integrity is the inviolability of the physical body and emphasizes the importance of personal autonomy, self-ownership, and self-determination of human beings over their own bodies. In the field of human rights, violation of the bodily integrity of another is regarded as an unethical infringement, intrusive, and possibly criminal.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Human rights in Fiji</span>

Fiji is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean with a population of approximately 849,000. It is made up of Fijians, Indo-Fijians, Europeans, Chinese, other Pacific islanders, and people of mixed racial descent. Fiji has been in a state of political unrest since their independence from Britain in 1970.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Human rights in Sweden</span> Overview about human rights in Sweden

Human rights in Sweden are largely protected in their Constitution and ratified international law. The three Constitutional acts concerning human rights are Chapter 2 of the Instrument of Government, Regeringsformen, the Freedom of the Press Act, Tryckfrihetsförordningen (1949) and Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression, Yttrandefrihetsgrundlagen (1991). Additionally, the European Convention on Human Rights has been incorporated into Swedish domestic law since 1995.

References

  1. The Civil Rights act of 1964, ourdocuments.gov Archived 2019-03-22 at the Wayback Machine
  2. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, accessboard.gov Archived 2013-07-20 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Summary of LGBT civil rights protections, by state, at Lambda Legal, lambdalegal.org
  4. A useful survey is Paul Sieghart, The Lawful Rights of Mankind: An Introduction to the International Legal Code of Human Rights, Oxford University Press, 1985.
  5. Mears, T. Lambert, Analysis of M. Ortolan's Institutes of Justinian, Including the History and, p. 75.
  6. Fahlbusch, Erwin and Geoffrey William Bromiley, The encyclopedia of Christianity, Volume 4, p. 703.
  7. "Human Rights: 1500–1760 – Background". Nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-02-11.
  8. Regilme, Salvador Santino F., Jr. (3 October 2014). "The Social Science of Human Rights: The Need for a 'Second Image Reversed'?". Third World Quarterly . 35 (8): 1390–1405. doi:10.1080/01436597.2014.946255. S2CID   143449409.
  9. House Bill 4 Archived 2012-10-01 at the Wayback Machine
  10. Robert Book (March 23, 2012). "The Real Broccoli Mandate". Forbes. Archived from the original on March 28, 2012. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  11. Meredith Bragg & Nick Gillspie (June 21, 2013). "Cheese Lovers Fight Idiotic FDA Ban on Mimolette Cheese!". Reason. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  12. Jessica Flanigan (July 26, 2012). "Three arguments against prescription requirements". Journal of Medical Ethics. 38 (10): 579–586. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2011-100240 . PMID   22844026 . Retrieved September 14, 2013.
  13. Kerry Howley (August 1, 2005). "Self-Medicating in Burma: Pharmaceutical freedom in an outpost of tyranny". Reason. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
  14. Daniel Schorn (February 11, 2009). "Prisoner Of Pain". 60 Minutes. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  15. Emily Dufton (Mar 28, 2012). "The War on Drugs: Should It Be Your Right to Use Narcotics?". The Atlantic. Retrieved September 13, 2013.
  16. Doug Bandow (2012). "From Fighting the Drug War to Protecting the Right to Use Drugs – Recognizing a Forgotten Liberty" (PDF). Towards a Worldwide Index of Human Freedom. Chapter 10. Fraser Institute. pp. 253–280. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-24.
  17. Thomas Szasz (1992). Our Right to Drugs: The Case for a Free Market. Praeger. ISBN   9780815603337.
  18. "Signatures to the Seneca Falls Convention 'Declaration of Sentiments'". American History Online, Facts On File, Inc.
  19. Cullen-DuPont, Kathryn. "Declaration of Rights and Sentiments". Encyclopedia of Women's History in America, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2000. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc.
  20. Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash (eds.), Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present, Oxford University Press, 2009. Includes chapters by specialists on the various movements.
  21. Domaradzki, Spasimir; Khvostova, Margaryta; Pupovac, David (2019-12-01). "Karel Vasak's Generations of Rights and the Contemporary Human Rights Discourse". Human Rights Review. 20 (4): 423–443. doi: 10.1007/s12142-019-00565-x . ISSN   1874-6306.
  22. "Types and Generations of Human Rights". faculty.chass.ncsu.edu. Retrieved 2020-10-30.
  23. "About the ACLU". American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved 2020-10-26.
  24. "Civil Rights Organizations — The Civil Rights Project at UCLA". www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu. Retrieved 2020-10-26.