What should one know about human rights?

Anyone, anywhere

All people are entitled to human rights. These rights do not arise due to your nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation or wealth. Sometimes people think that only those people who have done nothing wrong have human rights and that others don’t deserve them. That is not true. Some rights may be restricted at times, but human rights as such cannot be taken away from anyone.

example If you have committed a crime and end up in prison, your freedom will be restricted, which is part of your punishment. But, you cannot be beaten, starved or called bad names.

Balancing rights

Human rights do not mean that you can do anything you want. It can be explained best by saying that your freedoms end where someone else’s rights start. Your interests and rights have to be balanced with those of other people and compromise needs to be found.

example You cannot conduct an unsanctioned demonstration on the street and by doing this block other people on their way to work. It does not mean that you cannot demonstrate at all or that the rights of others to get to work is more important. But in every situation the interests of different people have to be evaluated and balanced. The State needs to provide an authorised institution to do that.


Human rights may be restricted. Some of your rights and freedoms may be restricted to protect the rights and freedoms of others and for the wider benefit of the rest of society.

example If you commit a crime and hurt someone, you might be sent to prison as punishment and lose your freedom. There are only a few rights that must never be restricted. These are the prohibition of torture and the freedom from slavery. Torture and enslavement cannot be justified in any circumstances.

Last updated 29/06/2023