RESOURCES

20081217 UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women


What are human rights?
1
Human rights define the value and worth
of each person and their relationship to
government and society. They identify
standards regarding the quality of life
that each of us can expect to enjoy.
Human rights have the following qualities:
• Human rights are inherent: human
rights do not have to be given to us
by a government to exist. They are
our birthright and belong to us simply
because we exist as human beings.
• Human rights are inalienable: human
rights cannot be given away or taken
away.
• Human rights are universal: human
rights belong to everyone, irrespective of
their sex, race, colour, religion, national
or social origin or other status.
The United Nations (UN) has enshrined many
human rights in international human rights
instruments. The Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, adopted in 1948, forms the
basis of these documents. Its Preamble says,
in part, that the ‘recognition of the inherent
dignity and of the equal and inalienable
rights of all members of the human family is
the foundation of freedom, justice and peace
in the world’.
Women’s rights are human rights
Due to some social structures, traditions,
stereotypes and attitudes about women and
their role in society, women do not always
have the opportunity and ability to access
and enforce their rights on the same basis
as men.