What Is The Human Rights Movement ?
Human rights is not a new concept. It has been in existence for centuries with different movements contributing to it. However, human rights movement came into existence initially with the signing of the Magna Carta in England.
When King John was the king of England, he did not pay heed to any of the laws prevailing in the country. He thought that he was above the law. This created a lot of discontent among the people. So, the church along with the bishops forced King John to sign a charter that listed down all the laws and rights that the people were entitled. The charter also mentioned that the church was free from any interference from the government and that the people under the reign of the king were free subjects, who could inherit properties and not pay too much tax. This charter also gave right to widows and laid down rules of conduct for government officials. This was the Great Charter, also known as the Magna Carta.
So, one can say that human rights movement began when people realized that they were being treated unfairly and raised their voice against the unfair treatment. Similarly, in different parts of the world, people raised their voices and got their kings and queens to rule in a just and compassionate manner, also got the monarchy to lay down rules of their rights and activities.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, philosophers and intellects in Europe came up with the idea of natural rights. According to them, people were entitled to certain rights because they were human beings and because nature deemed it so. They believed that these rights were not limited to certain groups or nationalities. However, this thought was not accepted by all. Though there were others who used this notion to come up with the rights of the people and religious and political freedom.
In fact, during the latter half of the 1700s, 2 revolutions drew inspiration from the natural rights. One revolution was the America Revolution that gave free to the 13 colonies from the British rule, and the other was French Revolution in the year 1789. It was the French Revolution that was instrumental in coming up with the Declaration of the Rights of Man.
Slowly, the natural rights were not considered. Instead, philosophers and intellects started talking about universal rights. It is Thoreau who gets the credit for using the term human rights for the first time in his discourse entitled Civil Disobedience. Thoreau's treatise had a great influence on some people like Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
Then, there were the works of John Stuart Mill and Thomas Paine that also made use of the term human rights and tried to explain what these rights were.
Finally, it was in the latter half of the 19th century that people took up the issue of human rights. However, during that time and in the first half of the 20th century, the issue was connected political and religious beliefs. With people getting disappointed in the working of their governments, they decided to take their rights and had demonstrations. However, governments used these demonstrations and movements to further oppress the people. Nonetheless, the human rights movement managed to bring about a great change in way society functioned. The labor unions were instrumental in bringing about changes in labor laws; the women's rights movement helped in women suffrage; and national liberation movements helped countries to get their freedom from colonial rule. Even racially oppressed minorities held movements to gain more freedom, like the US Civil Rights Movement. These are all examples of human rights movements that were carried on in different corners of the world at different times.
More Articles :