Origins of ordinary things: Human Rights

By definition, Human Rights are civil liberties that are inherent to all human beings no matter who they are or where they come from. Human Rights is an important aspect of today’s society.  It protects people’s life, health and freedom. It protects you as a child so that you can grow up to be a productive adult.

The idea of Human Rights is said to have started as early as 539BC when Cyrus II of Persia freed all the Jewish slaves. He also declared that people should choose their own religions. His declaration, written on a clay tablet, is known as the Cyrus Cylinder. It is the first Human Rights declaration.

This is according to an article titled “A look at the Background of Human Rights,” by Youth for Human Rights, an organisation whose aim is to teach youth about human rights and inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace.

There are other documents that made significant contribution to the advancement of Human Rights. An example of this is the Magna Carta of 1215. According to an article titled “A History of Human Rights”, by Lincoln University of the United States, the Magna Carta was developed when then king of England King John violated a number of laws and customs.

The Magna Carta put an end to the power of individuals in making and implementing laws, and abuse of power. It restricted the power of leaders and made provisions for the protection of rights of ordinary people. The same aspects were echoed in the Bill of Rights of England of 1689.

In the article, “History of Universal Human Rights,” Moira Rayner, a Human Rights lawyer in Australia, says that the Bill of Rights was the basis upon which American colonies wrote the Declaration of Independence from England in 1776.

However, the Declaration of Independence did not grant freedom to slaves. It also did not give equal rights to women. Slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1832. In the United States of America, it was abolished in 1865. This is according to the article “The History of Human Rights,” written by Liberty, a Human Rights organisation.

The abovementioned article also says that, in Britain, women over the age of thirty were granted the right to vote in 1918. The same right was extended to all adult women a decade later. In the United States, women were granted the right to vote in 1920.

In 1948 after World War II, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was published. It touched different aspects of Human Rights. This is according to the article “How was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights created?” by Pragya Lamsal, a Nepal based development professional.

The article, “A Brief History of Human Rights” by United for Human Rights, an organisation whose aim is to fight for Human Rights says that provisions made in the Cyrus Cylinder make up the first four Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

At the time when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was made, many African countries were still under colonial rule. After gaining independence, many countries, including Rwanda, made reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in their constitutions.