Human Rights

Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination. How were these rights established and how can we protect them?

Accessibility icon Human Rights

Why were human rights introduced?

After the end of the Second World War, there was a clear need to develop international cooperation to make sure that there was peace and stability between different countries.

The UN – The United Nations

On the 24th of October 1948, The United Nations (UN) was established. The United Nations’ main goal was to strengthen international cooperation and establish universal rights for all of the world’s citizens.

⬅ The United Nations Headquarters in New York.

FNs hovedkvarter i New York med medlemsflaggene vaiende utenfor
FNs hovedkvarter i New York med medlemsflaggene vaiende utenfor

In a postwar world

During World War II,  the Jews, the Roma, homosexuals and other minorities were exposed to brutal abuse. As a result of this, many people realised that the world was in need of international rights that protected all people, no matter what their background was. This is what is called human rights.

⬅ The Star of David is a religious symbol used in Jewish synagogues. During the Second World War, the Jewish people of Germany were forced to wear a yellow Star of David showcasing their faith.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

On the 10th of December 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was approved. It includes 30 articles.

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration reads as follows:

“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.”
(UN Association, 2020)

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Different types of human rights

In today’s world, we all have rights, no matter our gender, age, ethnicity, faith, or political views.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights shaped our basic rights as human beings. These rights have been increased and developed through conventions. The UN has made nine conventions, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Refugee Convention.

One of the most central conventions for maintaining democracy is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This convention protects the freedom of speech, freedom of choice and democratic governance. Although there has been great progress in democracy over the past 60 years worldwide, there are still certain nations that challenge these basic rights.

⬅ The right to demonstrate, or express one’s own thoughts and opinions, is one of our most basic civil and political rights as human beings.

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A short film about Human Rights and Sustainable Development

Human Rights Violations

In a lot of countries, even in Norway, you will find violations of human rights. The degree of seriousness of these violations can vary.

In Poland, the government has recently introduced some reforms that violate human rights. According to a report by Amnesty International, the Polish government is running a homo-transphobic campaign. The Polish government has recently stopped LGBTQ activists and has censored information linked to LGBTQ. This is a clear violation of freedom of speech.

The Polish authorities have also introduced certain reforms which continue to weaken the independence of the judiciary. This violatesthe principle of separation of powers which is essential for a functioning democracy.

The European Union (EU) has tried to stop these anti-human rights reforms in Poland, but the Polish government has not taken any notice of the EU warnings.

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Black Lives Matter

On May 25, 2020, the police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, USA. George Floyd was a 46-year-old African-American man who tried to use a fake twenty-dollar bill in a store when he was arrested. His death started the largest protest against racism and police brutality in the US in over 50 years. Around the world, thousands of people have rushed to the streets in anti-racism demonstrations. The demonstrations signal that many believe Black people and other minorities are being treated wrongly by the police.

Labeling Black people as criminals without them having committed any serious crimes can be considered a violation of human rights. According to the BBC, 1,000 people in the United States were shot and killed by the police in 2019. 23 percent of those shot were African Americans, even though African Americans make up only 14 percent of the population.

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Violation of human rights in Norway

Norway is one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to defending human rights.

But Norway has been criticized for the practice of pre-trial prison. Pre-trial prison means that a person is put in prison whilst the crime is being investigated. In other words, it means that someone is imprisoned without evidence that the person is guilty. It must be said that this only happens when a serious crime has been committed, such as murder.

What you can do

Even if you are a student, you have the possibility to support human rights across the world.

You can influence politicians by joining an organization or a political party, by starting a petition, speaking out in the media, or taking part in activism on social media.

Each and every citizen is a champion of democracy and human rights.

The Sakharov Prize

The video below is from the Sakharov Prize in 2013. This is a yearly prize awarded by the EU to an organisation or individual who has shown great work for human rights.


  • Knudsen, Olav Fagelund; Julsrud, Ottar; Tvedt, Knut Are; Trondal, Jarle:
    EU – Den europeiske union  i  Store norske leksikon  på
    19. august 2020  fra 

Media Rights:

    1. Getty Images
    2. Getty Images
    3. Getty Images
    4. Getty Images
    5. FN-sambandet Norge Youtube
    6. Getty Images
    7. Getty Images
    8. Getty Images
    9. Getty Images
    10. European Parliament Youtube