How do you define human rights?

Human rights are:

  • Inherent
    • Someone has a human right just by virtue of being human
  •  Equal
    • Human rights do not come in degrees
  • Universal
    • All humans have them, they are not dependent on social class, mental or physical capacity, usefulness to society, etc…
  • Inalienable
    • They cannot be suspended by other people or circumstances

(A. Menuge)

In 1776, the United States Congress, essentially stated as such, in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Of course, the founders recognized that these are rights that are given to men by their Creator.The signers of the Declaration of Independence are listed on this Wikipedia page.

In 1948, the United Nations hit at these four criteria again in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the preamble paragraph, without the reference to God:

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, …

The European Human Rights Convention reaffirms the UDHR, but does not offer a separate definition of human rights.

The UDHR has a couple of articles that are relevant to today’s discussion on immigration. Article 13 states that it is an inherent right to be allowed to leave one’s country. Article 14 states that it is an inherent right to be allowed to seek asylum from prosecutionin another country. I mostly agree with the right to leave a country. I agree that you should be allowed to seek asylum. Nothing here guarantees the granting of asylum status in another country, and nothing forces a country to grant asylum to refugees. Which brings us to one of my perennial questions: why are western countries allowing so many refugees into their borders?

Article 21 and up have overtones of socialism that conflict with my personal views on human rights. These rights fail all four criteria for the definition of a human right: inherent, universal, equal, unalienable, and therefore cannot be considered human rights. What these invalid statements do is water down the first 20 articles of the UHDR, and taint the whole thing with political ideals tied to regional cultures. It’s definitely not a universal declaration. It sounds more to me like a european socialist declaration.

It’s probably fair to say that not one individual or country really pays a lot of attention about these UDHR articles. The list of signatories is small, and not well publicized (probably on purpose). It also validate the concept of American exceptionalism in my eyes. First, our declaration of human rights came 172 years before the UDHR. Second, it is fundamental and does not stray from its promise. It stays away from petty political influences. Caveat, I say “our declaration” here as a newly minted American, as I was born in France.

A couple of questions tied to the topic of human rights:

Are women’s rights human rights? This has been nagging me for quite a while since I saw this statement from HRC during the 2016 presidential campaign. Imho, women’s rights cannot be considered human rights since these right only apply to women. They are not universal in the sense that men cannot enjoy these rights. Therefore they remain women’s right and HRC is wrong. Among these rights are the right to abortion, which I cannot agree with.

Is the right to own property a sufficient claim to resist the mass immigration in a country?