Human Rights: Origin and Growth


All Humans must be treated properly and with dignity. Everyone has inherited the right to be treated in the right manner and with respect. The prime motive of human rights is to protect the dignity of the human kind and prevent them from any kind of exploitation, discrimination and injustice.

The question arises why only the vulnerable or the weaker or the minority sections of the societies are always being exploited by the privileged class. When God has made us equal then why there is the discrimination on the basis of caste, colour r, creed, gender and religion.

The society has rather divided into different parts when the exact meaning of the word society is unity or the community of the people who share a particular interest or objective. The journey of human rights is full of struggles and hurdles. But at the end the toil struggle turns into success and now there are various provisions of the protection of human rights. The laws are lied down for the protection of life, liberty, dignity, equality and individuality of a person. The effort made for about hundreds of years of struggle has finally resulted in proper norms and laws. Now, if a person does any act which violates a person’s basic rights or human rights is punishable under different laws related to the type of crime.

Origin of Human Rights

We can say that the origin of human rights was majorly found in Greek philosophy and the various world religions. Human rights is a universal concept that means all countries have Human rights for their citizens and every country has led down its own legislation or laws for human rights.

In the 18th century when there is an Age of Enlightenment the concept of human rights emerged as an explicit category. In this era begins to see man and woman as individuals. The people are now aware of the fact that every man deserves equal rights. There are no specific changes made for the same. But still, there are requirements to bring changes to fundamental rights that will safeguard the rights of humans. Human rights were seen as a topic of concern for the existence of a worthy life which is full of human dignity.

In the 19th century, there were several disputes within the states (in Europe) relating to the protection of the rights of minorities. These conflicts led to several humanitarian interventions and calls for international protection arrangements. One of the first such arrangements was the Treaty of Berlin of 1878, which provided certain l special legal status to some religious groups. It also contributed as the model for the minority section that was eventually established within the League of Nations. The need and requirement of Human Rights were first felt at the end of the 19th century. During this period the labour legislation was introduced. After World War II, a charter of the UN was signed on 26 June 1945 which brought human rights into the sphere of international law. The charter consists of ways and measures to protect human rights. The UN Commission on Human Rights ( UNHCR) submitted a draft, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which was later adopted on 10 December 1948. Gradually many countries joined the UN in the 1950s and 1960s. On the first and second World Conference on Human Rights, the Declaration and Programme of Action were adopted, along with various other conventions.

Concept of Human Rights

Human rights are those rights which cannot be taken away from an individual. It is one’s Fundamental rights and one has the right to violate the same. These are the rights which a human inherited and entitled since the birth as he or she is a Human Being. The nature of the human right is universal or worldwide. It is not like that rights are only for some particular person or particular section of the society. They are for all the humans present on earth but sometimes it is also necessary to take some of the rights of a person who is an accused of any crime, a convict and who is arrested for some crime.

The Definition of Human rights in the words of Scott Davidson, “The concept of human rights is closely connected with the protection of individuals from the exercise of State, Government or authority in a certain area of their lives, it is also directed towards the creation of societal conditions by the state in which individuals are to develop their fullest potential”. Thus, from the above-cited definitions, it has been seen that human rights are the essential part for every human in order to live his/her life to the fullest.

D.D. Basu defines human rights as those minimum rights which every individual must have against the State or other public authority by virtue of his being a member of the human family, irrespective of any.

Definition by Human Rights by UDHR –

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”.

The main approaches to Human Rights

The Historical Approach – This approach considers Human Rights as a cultural function and environmental. It is the oldest or ancient approach so there are various drawbacks of the approach. The first drawback is that it believes individuals as an entity when it comes to community. Secondly, the approach’s main concentration is on the religious practices and matters related to language or mother tongue rather than the opinions and views of people. Thirdly, it put more focus on the differences of the societies and less on the rights of the Humans. They don’t believe in the universality of Human rights.

The Positivist Approach – This approach put more emphasis on the legal enactments for human rights which will be decided by the authoritative sovereign. The main problem in this approach was that the law was established is for the sovereign but for the people or for their will. There are chances where the decisions made by the authoritative sovereign are against the will of the people and harms their human rights. As the Positivist only concern for the nation and not for the people especially, in respect of international law.

The Marxist Approach – This approach is given by Karl Marx who was a prominent writer and philosopher of the 19th century industrial revolution. It is presumed that in capitalist society, there is no place for human rights. They have become like the classless society where there is public ownership on the means of production. There is a certain drawback of the approach : that the development of humans is inevitable in society.

The Social Science Approach – In this approach the human rights are explained in the context of social causes, the role of community in shaping the morals and principles of the society. The methods which are used are scientific and empirical methods. There are models and techniques to estimate the degree of success or failure of human rights. However, this approach failed, as it is quite difficult to provide a clear link between social processes and the law.

Growth and Development of Human Rights

The fight for human rights has begun in order to stop the exploitation of mankind. The people who become the victim of these exploitations are generally the vulnerable section of the society such as women, children, the people from the weaker sections and some the exploitation took place on the basis of the colour of the person. In the recent case of the US where a black man died in police custody because he choked him and kept his knee on his neck for eight minutes, despite the fact that he continuously told the police officer that he cannot breathe. This results in the violation of the human rights of a person and causes a huge protest in the United States.

Earlier there was the company concept of natural rights which means the rights which a human possesses from birth. They are different from political, legal and religious rights. But with the advancement of the Human Rights it includes life, liberty, and security of person; the freedom of religion, thought, political expression, movement, assembly, speech, and organization; due process of law, health, education, property ownership, employment, cultural preservation, the right to marry and found a family and freedom from discrimination, unjust punishment, persecution, tyranny, and oppression.
The growth of Human Rights is still in its progress to make a better world for humans.

Human Rights in India

The Human Rights in India is defined in the Indian Constitution in the form of Fundamental Rights. These rights are provided to all the citizens of India irrespective of any kind of discrimination on the basis of caste, gender, colour and religion. The Fundamental Rights provided to the human are: Right to Equality, Right to Freedom, Right against Exploitation, Right to Freedom of Religion, Cultural and Educational Rights, and Right to Constitutional Remedies. The National Human Rights Commission for India was formed on 12 October, 1993 which was established to protect and promote human rights. Along with this, there are several other rights for the human such as rights related to equality, economic and social rights. The major concern is to protect the vulnerable section of the society which includes women, children, senior citizens, minority section, labourers and backward classes. There are various acts and laws are made for the protection of Humans from being exploited.
Comparing the Human Rights of India with the Human Rights of China:

  • China and India are neighbouring countries but there are various differences between them one such major difference is the structure of government. China enjoys communist rule whereas India has multiple party systems. This is a great cause of the difference in Human Rights.
  • Another difference is on the basis of the religious system. China promotes some specific religions such as Christianity and Muslims but India is a country with various religions and each religion is practiced in India.
  • The Freedom of speech is restricted in China but in India there is no such situation. Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of Indian and Article 10 of the Human Rights Act provides Freedom of expression to every citizen.
  • There are no specific rights for LGBT community in China and they are rather not discriminated where as India has struck down Section 377 of Constitution and held that it is unconstitutional in the recent case Navtej Singh Johar v. Union.

Human rights and Fundamental Rights

The fundamental rights are based on human rights. Both the rights have diverse meanings, these rights should not be considered equivalent and interchangeable. The Fundamental rights are the elemental rights of citizens of a country.These rights are mentioned in the Constitution of India and enforceable under the law. Human rights are also considered as fundamental rights, as they exist for the betterment and welfare of the people and are implemented through various legal provisions. We can say that human rights are ‘abstract’ whereas fundamental rights cannot be so. Human rights are universal law with no limitations, but fundamental rights exist with special legal systems with certain limitations. In other words, Human rights are internationally recognised, while fundamental rights are country specific and are builton individual freedom. Human rights evolved from the ideas of civilised nations. Whereas, fundamental rights are derived from the view of democratic society.


Every country has their different laws in order to protect human rights but their motives are the same : the betterment of mankind and the welfare of society. The growth and scope of the Human Rights are growing at a very fast rate but still there is always a scope of improvement. Every law must ensure that no human has to face any kind of exploitation and no one can exploit there Human rights.

“ To Deny people their rights is to challenge their very humanity .”- Nelson Mandela