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Human Rights Overview

"In 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the first global consensus on which rights all humans are inherently entitled to."

Moral codes have provided the foundation for human rights. Examples of the Golden Rules from five religions are often quoted:

Buddhism – "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful"
Christianity – "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"
Islam – "No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself"
Judaism – "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. That is the entire law; all the rest is commentary"
Hinduism – "Do naught to others, if done to thee, would cause thee pain: this is the sum of duty".

In 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights outlined 30 basic human rights. It arose from the international community's experience of World War II. With a vote of 48 countries in its favour, the declaration was the first global consensus on which rights all humans are inherently entitled to.

Further key human rights instruments have been the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by 164 states in 1966, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ratified by 160 states in 1966, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities and the Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted in 2007.

Other important covenants cover discrimination against women, the rights of children, a convention on the elimination of racial discrimination, a convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and a convention relating to the status of refugees.

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