What are human rights?

Human rights are rights we have simply because we exist as human beings. These universal rights are inherent to us all, regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. Human rights range from the most fundamental rights such as the right to life to rights that make life worth living such as the right to education, and right to work. Human rights are essential for all human brings in order to live a dignified life and enable us to make choices about our lives and develop our potential as human beings. Ensuring human rights is crucial to live in a society that is free from fear, harassment or discrimination.

Characteristics of Human Rights

  • Universal – All are equally entitled to human rights
  • Inalienable: should not be taken away.
  • Indivisible: one set of rights cannot be enjoyed fully without the other.
  • Interdependent: providing or violating one right can affect other rights
  • Equality: All human beings are equal in dignity and rights.
  • Non-discrimination: Everyone is entitled to all human rights without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language etc.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, was the first legal document to set out the fundamental human rights to be universally protected. The UDHR, together with the 2 covenants - the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights make up the International Bill of Rights.

Fundamental Rights and freedoms in the Maldives are stated in Chapter 2 of Constitution of the Maldives and Article 17 states that everyone is entitled to the rights and freedoms included in this Chapter without discrimination of any kind, including race, national origin, colour, sex, age, mental or physical disability, political or other opinion, property, birth or other status, or native island. Human Rights Commission Act (6/2006) defines Human rights as the fundamental rights stipulated in the constitution of the Republic of Maldives and the rights not contradictory to the basic tenets of Islam, stipulated in international conventions and declarations, which the Maldives is a party to. It is the duty of the state to protect and promote the rights and freedoms provided in the Constitution.