Human Rights: A Brief Introduction
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CitationMarks, Stephen P. 2014. Human Rights: A Brief Introduction. Working Paper, Harvard School of Public Health.
AbstractHuman rights constitute a set of norms governing the treatment of individuals and groups by states and non-state actors on the basis of ethical principles regarding what society considers fundamental to a decent life. These norms are incorporated into national and international legal systems, which specify mechanisms and procedures to hold the duty-bearers accountable and provide redress for alleged victims of human rights violations. After a brief discussion of the use of human rights in ethical, legal, and advocacy discourse and some historical background of the concept of human rights, this essay will examine the tensions between human rights and state sovereignty, the challenges to the universality of human rights, the enumeration of rights recognized by the international community, and the means available to translate the high aspirations of human rights into practice.
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