Covid-19 seems to be the only story to greet us when we scroll through social media, turn on the TV or listen to the radio. We are all becoming hyper aware of the social and economic problems caused by the Pandemic: a persistent lack of PPE, uncertain job prospects and the toll on the British economy.
Debates about our rights and freedoms have been drawn into the spotlight of the global conversation recently, as some groups in the UK and the US have protested about restrictions to their freedom of movement. Moments of public outrage have followed the realisation that the policies designed to manage the Covid-19 crisis, while essential measures for the protection of public health, are contributing to many of the social and economic problems being experienced. How can a solution that limits our freedom of movement and restricts our rights to work possibly be a practical solution?
Little clarification seems to have been offered by our governments to explain what human rights actually are, and why they have the power to restrict the human rights they also have a duty to protect. To fill in some of these gaps in the Covid conversation, my next series of posts will address some of the frequently asked questions that have arisen about our human rights: what they are, how they are enforced and why they can be restricted by our governments for our own safety.
What are human rights?
Human rights are the fundamental freedoms that we are all entitled to, simply because we are human. Everyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexuality, age, or political opinion is entitled to basic rights and freedoms that protect the principles of human dignity and fairness. There are 23 human rights articles set out in the pioneering Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), published in 1948.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the first document that formally outlined the rights and freedoms to which everyone is entitled. The UDHR consist of rights such as freedom from subjection to torture, freedom from slavery and freedom from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights also outlines our rights to essential services such as universal health care and access to education.
For more information about the 23 Human Rights Articles and what they mean take a look Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Over the coming weeks I’ll be delving further into the questions and debates surrounding human rights. So to discover more about your fundamental rights and how they are being affected right now, watch this space.