Most researchers believe that Magna Charta (Latin for Great Charter), signed in England in 1215, is the forerunner of the legal guarantees that exist today. King John of England, under heavy pressure from rebel nobles, granted all English Frenchmen some rights to be held by them and their heirs ... forever. At the time in history, very few people in England were considered to be freemen, but it was one step in the right direction. Before Magna Charta there were any provisions for human rights on behalf of the single kindly ruler of the country.
More often than not, lines were inclined to repress their people by means of arbitrary authority that was only challenged when others wanted to take on the same forces for themselves. Work from the peasants to gain more economic freedom was ruthlessly suppressed. So far, in many countries, people who are openly critical to government policy are detained or enforced.
When US colonists began their struggle for freedom, they would really only have the same fundamental rights as English people thought they had been guaranteed since 1689. Only after repeated attempts to assert themselves had been contested, they proclaimed independence and maintained in the process that all men were created equal , that they are gifted by their creators with certain intolerable rights, among which are the lives, freedom, and successive happiness.
The purpose of the government is to secure these rights. wrote Thomas Jefferson. Included in its description of fundamental rights and their higher source was a term that had existed since the days of ancient Greece and Rome - the natural law higher than any law designated by humanity. A country based on these basic principles can be expected to write them into its basic laws and so did. From the beginning of its history as a nation, the United States Supreme Law has been its constitution, not a person's authority.
Shortly after American independence was achieved, Frances was lucky. While England and its American colonies had spent two centuries experimenting with democratic government, France fought in the old ways and retained one of the most authoritarian monarchies in the world. When the change came to France from 1789 it was both sudden and violent. Although France went through different ages in the 1790s, until the republic was destroyed by Napoleon in the early 19th century, it maintained a declaration of human rights and citizens and spelled out the same right for people to decide their own government. It also confirmed some of the same guarantees as those given to US citizens, such as freedom of religion, freedom of expression and the right to property.
Fast-scrolling until the 20's. After World War II, a number of people tried to put man once and for all on a course that would guarantee all men their human rights. They first founded the United Nations in an effort to create a forum where different countries could solve their differences. The people who created the UN knew that human rights were an essential element in world peace and set up a commission led by Eleanor Roosevelt to produce the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. When ratified, it contained 30 provisions that all governments would share in common. Member States simply report to it.
It would be wrong to reject the human rights movement that emerged after World War II by pointing to too frequent cases of human rights violations. There have been many triumphs when men have stood up for their human rights. For example, racial minorities in the United States won through the leadership of Martin Luther King and other great respect for their rights, an example that was repeated elsewhere in the world. The colonial empires that split the world in 1948 and denied the right of self-determination to millions have fallen sharply from India under the leadership of Gandhi.
However, the question remains, how does human rights become reality for all? Part of the answer is that an understanding of human rights must permeate our culture. Youth for Human Rights International provides educational material in the world's largest language so that all people can access the knowledge of their basic human rights and thus a positive way to a world recognizing the dignity of all humanity.