Rights and Responsibilities


1. Rights and Responsibilities

We hear all over the news about our human rights - Court cases, lawsuits and newspaper articles; but do we ever hear about cases on responsibilities, about people being guided as to how us using our rights may affect other people. 

Being safe and protected from harm, being treated fairly with dignity, and living the life you choose, these are only some of our simplest and compulsory rights.

These human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that should belong to every person in the world. However, they are bound together with responsibilities. Rights mean little without responsibilities. And they mean little without others taking responsibility to protect them.  All in all, rights come with responsibilities.

As a result of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights we have 30 basic human rights, and these rights are based on the core principles like dignity, equality and respect.

But how can you keep your dignity if others choose to trip you up? How can you be counted as equals if others feel they are better than you? How can you keep your respect if you are looked down upon?

If we do have a right to respect, and the right to have security, then why is it that almost half of children and young people say they have been bullied at school at some point in their lives? And how come 30,000 children called ChildLine in 2011 about bullying? Surely this is a breach of their own human rights?

People do not always consider the consequence of their actions.  This could be because they are too much engulfed in their own human rights that they refuse to acknowledge that others have their own rights too, and how they need to respect that.

An example of this could be someone’s right of freedom to speak, which could be more important to them then their responsibility to use that freedom fairly, and without causing harm or offense to anything or anyone.

We have a right to a nationality, but a responsibility to respect other people’s nationalities. We have the right to have marriage, but we should never be able to decide if others aren’t allowed, no matter what their sex, race or religion. We have the right to an education, but a responsibility to not stop others in their own learning.

Responsibilities could apply to anyone.  With employers – we have a right to play, a right to have a rest from work and relax, so why is it that employers seem to expect more work for less pay, and for workers to stay late for no reward. It could even apply to your parents – you have a right to privacy, but how many of us have most likely had parents trying to look at our text messages and Facebook accounts.

Maybe everyone should just try to understand other people’s rights,  not having to do anything out of the ordinary, but instead, even the simplest of things, like just listening to someone more, and allowing them to state their own opinion. Because if you’re not even able to do this yourself, then why should you expect others to respect you.

Several organisations have actually taken up their responsibilities, and have even gone further and have been set up specifically to promote human rights, like amnesty international, who aim to bring rights to lots of people all over the world, from women’s right in places like the Middle East and North Africa, and helping the 840 million people are chronically malnourished, the 100 million people who have no access to education and the 11 million children that die before the age of five every year.

Our responsibilities as humans of course do not only relate to human rights, but also to our environment, and our responsibilities to protect it, like using greener fuels, using less water, even turning off the lights when they are not needed. But I bet, whenever there is an advert on saving the planet, we just switch of our brains, and do not give it any attention; I know I do it sometimes.

The answer to the question of ‘have we lost our human responsibilities’ is a hard one, but I can say that there are too many incidences in normal day to day life where we do not full fill our responsibilities as a human. It may not be easily noticed, or you might not even realise you are doing it, but I can guarantee that not everyone is perfect, and there will be a time when you yourself have not given thought to your responsibilities. We just need to think more about our responsibilities, just because it is not advertised as much, it doesn’t mean we should not take them into consideration. Otherwise we could find ourselves in a position of us being in breach of human rights laws, as well as impacting on the well being of the planet we live on. 

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