Evolution of Human Rights

Human rights are rights we possess merely by virtue of our humanity; they are not provided by any state. These universal human rights are intrinsic to everyone, regardless of nationality, gender, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, or another status. They vary from the most fundamental, which is the right to life, to those that make life worthwhile, including the rights to food, education, labor, health, and freedom. According to Andrew Heywood, author of numerous political textbooks such as Politics, Political Ideologies, and World Politics, Human Rights are rights to which humans are entitled by virtue of their humanity; they are a contemporary and secular version of “natural rights.” There are four key aspects of human rights.

  1. Human rights are universal, which means that everyone has them, no matter their race, religion, caste, creed, or anything else that might make them different.
  2. They are fundamental in the sense that they are indispensable and of paramount significance.
  3. Their absolute status implies that they are fundamental to every person.
  4. They are irreducible. It implies that all types of human rights, whether civil, economic, or social, are of equal value.

Human rights, by their most basic definition, are the basic protections and liberties to which all people are legally entitled. One of the most important things to keep in mind about human rights is that everyone, regardless of their background, is entitled to them.


Before 539 B.C., human rights had no meaning and the world only knew slavery, inequality, and violence, but a Persian monarch named Cyrus made people aware of their potential and rights. After conquering Babylon, Cyrus announced the liberation of all Babylonian slaves and the freedom to practice any religion. This was the first document that established the basis for human rights. Another very crucial document that played an important role in recognizing human rights was the Magna Carta (the Great Charter), which was written by King John in 1215 as a result of negotiations between barons and King John. In 1215, when the barons conquered London, King John was obliged to negotiate. As a result of the negotiations, a charter was drafted that granted men the right to justice and a fair trial; this charter subsequently became the English law of the United Kingdom.

After the revolution of 1688, the Bill of Rights (England) established the concept of human rights, and a century later, the American Declaration of Independence asserted that all men are created equal. The French statement of the rights of men and citizens occurred over a decade after the French Revolution. They maintain that men are born and stay free. World War II, during which Hitler and the Nazi party ruled Germany, was an additional key event in the evolution of human rights. The Nazis made Jews and other groups suffer greatly; they tortured them, caused them to starve, conducted medical experiments on them, stole their money, and stole their property. The conditions of Jews and other groups were brutal, and this cruelty broke the spirit of humans. After World War II, the world took an oath to restore the faith and dignity of humans, and the United Nations decided to create human rights so that no one could harm humans and no one could take advantage of them.

The United Nations established a commission on human rights and recorded its findings in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in December 1948 and designated as the International Magna Carta for all humanity. There is a prologue and 30 articles defining the principles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The evolution of human rights is divided into three generations which are as follows:

    I.        First Generation: Civil and Political Rights

The doctrine of these rights emerged during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and was primarily motivated by political considerations. It had become apparent that there were certain things that all-powerful rulers should not be able to do and that the populace should have some say in the policies that impact them. The two basic concepts were ‘personal liberty and the ‘protection of the individual from state infringement. Civil and political rights are explained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), and they include the right to participate in government and the ban on torture. These rights have long been viewed as the most essential human rights, at least in “the West.” We will see in the following section that this view is erroneous.

During the Cold War, the nations of the Soviet bloc were harshly criticized for their disrespect for civil and political rights. These nations replied by criticizing western democracies for disregarding fundamental social and economic rights, which we will examine in the following section. Both criticisms had some degree of accuracy. It also demonstrates how vulnerable human rights are to political misuse.

“States and the international community as a whole continue to tolerate all too often breaches of economic, social and cultural rights which, if they occurred in relation to civil and political rights, would provoke expressions of horror and outrage and would lead to concerted calls for immediate remedial action.”
-UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1993

 II. Second Generation: Social, Economic and Cultural Rights

These rights pertain to how individuals live and work together, as well as the basics of life. They are founded on the principles of equality and assured access to fundamental social and economic goods, services, and opportunities. With the effects of early industrialization and the emergence of a working class, they gained an increased worldwide reputation. This resulted in new demands and notions regarding the meaning of a life lived with dignity. People realized that human dignity necessitated a greater degree of governmental non-interference than the civil and political rights stipulated. The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the European Social Charter of the Council of Europe establish social, economic, and cultural rights.

  • Social rights are those that are required for full participation in social life. They include at a minimum the right to education and the right to start and maintain a family, as well as the rights to recreation, health care, privacy, and freedom from discrimination, which are typically considered ‘civil’ rights.
  • Economic Rights: It includes the right to work, a decent quality of living, housing, and a pension if you are elderly or disabled. Economic rights represent the reality that a certain minimum level of material stability is required for human dignity, as well as the fact that a lack of meaningful jobs or housing, for instance, can be psychologically humiliating.
  • Cultural Rights refer to a community’s cultural “way of life” and are frequently accorded less consideration than many other sorts of rights. They include the right to freely engage in the cultural life of the community as well as the potential right to education. However, many other rights that are not legally classified as “cultural” will be necessary for minority communities within a society to maintain their distinct cultures, such as the right to non-discrimination and equal protection under the law.

III.        Third Generation: Solidarity rights

The list of globally acknowledged human rights has changed throughout time. Despite the fact that none of the rights enumerated in the UDHR have been seriously challenged in its nearly six decades of existence, additional treaties and agreements have clarified and expanded upon some of the fundamental notions outlined in the original treaty. These additions are the consequence of a combination of reasons, including a response to evolving notions of human dignity as well as the emergence of new challenges and opportunities. In the case of the specific new category of rights that have been presented as third-generation rights, these are the result of a more in-depth study of the various forms of impediments that may impede the realization of the first and second-generation rights.

Third-generation rights are based on the principle of solidarity, and they include collective rights of society or people, such as the right to sustainable development, peace, and a healthy environment. In the majority of the world, factors such as extreme poverty, conflict, and ecological and natural disasters have limited human rights growth to a negligible degree. For this reason, many individuals believe that the recognition of a new category of human rights is necessary: these rights would ensure that nations, particularly in the developing world, are able to provide the already recognized first and second-generation rights. Most frequently included in the category of third-generation rights are the rights to development, peace, a healthy environment, participation in the exploitation of the common legacy of humanity, communication, and humanitarian aid.

Time has transformed the list of global human rights. Although none of the UDHR’s rights have been severely contested in its nearly six decades of existence, new treaties and agreements have clarified and expanded upon some of its essential principles. These additions reflect growing views of human dignity and new difficulties and opportunities. Third-generation rights are the result of an in-depth analysis of the constraints that can delay the realization of first and second-generation rights. Third-generation rights are founded on solidarity and include the right to sustainable development, peace, and a healthy environment. Extreme poverty, violence, and ecological and natural calamities have limited human rights expansion worldwide. Many believe a new category of human rights is necessary to ensure that states, especially in the developing world, can provide first and second-generation rights. Third-generation rights include development, peace, a healthy environment, involvement in exploiting humanity’s legacy, communication, and humanitarian relief.


It wasn’t until the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission in India that human rights were given the recognition they deserved in the country. This commission was the direct result of the Human Rights Protection Act of 1993, which wasn’t put into effect until the year 2006. This act also established human rights courts and state human rights commissions. In India, recognition of human rights didn’t come until long after the country gained its independence; as a result, it’s fair to claim that Indians previously had a limited understanding of the fundamental freedoms to which they were entitled. This act was the government’s important decision to adopt in order to better the conditions of the people and renew their faith in the government. As a result of this statute, the National Human Rights Commission was established, and its primary function is that of a watchdog.


While a conviction in the value of human life has ancient precedents in many world faiths, the roots of modern human rights were laid during the early modern period of renaissance humanism. The European religious wars and the English civil wars of the seventeenth century gave birth to the ideology of liberalism, and faith in natural rights became a key issue of European intellectual culture throughout the Age of Enlightenment. The concepts of natural rights, which were grounded in natural law, were fundamental to the American and French Revolutions of the late 18th century, although the concept of human rights emerged later. The development of democracy during the nineteenth century set the stage for the introduction of universal suffrage in the twentieth. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was established as a result of two world wars. The evolution of human rights has been intricate. Numerous established rights, for example, would be supplanted by alternative systems that stray from their original western conception. Stable institutions may be uprooted by conflicts such as war and terrorism, or by a cultural shift.


  1. https://www.coe.int/en/web/compass/the-evolution-of-human-rights
  2. https://www.ohchr.org/en/what-are-human-rights
  3. https://www.liberties.eu/en/stories/human-rights-definition/43935
  4. https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/human-rights/what-are-human-rights
  5. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rights-human/
  6. International Human Rights in 21st Century: Protecting the rights of the group; Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, INC.0

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.


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The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at secondinnings.hr@gmail.com

In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories.

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