|© UNICEF/ HQ05-1469/Pirozzi|
|The human rights framework shows that members of any family, like this one in Pakistan, are entitled to all of their rights. Everyone, everywhere has the same rights as a result of our common humanity.|
Human rights are those rights which are essential to live as human beings – basic standards without which people cannot survive and develop in dignity. They are inherent to the human person, inalienable and universal.
The United Nations set a common standard on human rights with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Although this Declaration is not part of binding international law, its acceptance by all countries around the world gives great moral weight to the fundamental principle that all human beings, rich and poor, strong and weak, male and female, of all races and religions, are to be treated equally and with respect for their natural worth as human beings.
The United Nations has since adopted many legally binding international human rights instruments. These treaties are used as a framework for discussing and applying human rights. Through these instruments, the principles and rights they outline become legal obligations on those States choosing to be bound by them. The framework also establishes legal and other mechanisms to hold governments accountable in the event they violate human rights.
The instruments of the international human rights framework are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the six core human rights treaties: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Every country in the world has ratified at least one of these, and many have ratified most of them. These treaties are important tools for holding governments accountable for the respect for, protection of and realization of the rights of individuals in their country.
As part of the framework of human rights law, all human rights are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent. Understanding this framework is important to promoting, protecting and realizing children’s rights because the Convention on the Rights of the Child—and the rights and duties contained in it—are part of the framework.
Human rights instruments
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Definition of key terms [PDF]