4 - What is the origin of the phrase?
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-and where is somebody likely to encounter it?
Since 1964 the United Nations has mainly dealt with the rights ofwomen and minorities through specialized treaties such as the (1965); the (1979); the (1989), and the (2007). See also the (2007). Specialized treaties allow international norms to addressunique problems of particular groups such as assistance and careduring pregnancy and childbearing in the case of women, custody issuesin the case of children, and the loss of historic territories byindigenous peoples.
The Universal Declaration included social (or “welfare”) rights thataddress matters such as education, food, and employment. Theirinclusion has been the source of much controversy (see Beetham 1995).Social rights are often alleged to be statements of desirable goalsbut not really rights. The European Convention did not include them(although it was later amended to include the right to education).Instead they were put into a separate treaty, the . When the United Nations began the process of putting the rights ofthe Universal Declaration into international law, it followed themodel of the European system by treating economic and social standardsin a treaty separate from the one dealing with civil and politicalrights. This treaty, the (the “Social Covenant,” 1966), treated these standards as rights—albeit rights to be progressively realized.
5 - What does 'the human condition' mean to 'the man on the street'?
Equality of rights for historically disadvantaged or subordinatedgroups is a longstanding concern of the human rights movement. Humanrights documents repeatedly emphasize that all people, including womenand members of minority ethnic and religious groups, have equal humanrights and should be able to enjoy them without discrimination. Theright to freedom from discrimination figures prominently in theUniversal Declaration and subsequent treaties. The Civil and PoliticalCovenant, for example, commits participating states to respect andprotect their people's rights “without distinction of any kind,such as race, color, sex, language, political or other opinion,national or social origin, property, birth, or social status”(on minority and group rights see Nickel 2007, ch. 10).
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A number of standard individual rights are especially important toethnic and religious minorities, including rights to freedom ofassociation, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and freedomfrom discrimination. Human rights documents also include rights thatrefer to minorities explicitly and give them special protections. Forexample, the Civil and Political Covenant in Article 27 says thatpersons belonging to ethnic, religious, or linguistic minorities“shall not be denied the right, in community with other membersof their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practicetheir own religion, or to use their own language.”
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Most civil and political rights are not absolute—they can insome cases be overridden by other considerations. For example, theright to freedom of movement can be restricted by public and privateproperty rights, by restraining orders related to domestic violence,and by legal punishments. Further, after a disaster such as ahurricane or earthquake free movement is often appropriately suspendedto keep out the curious, to permit access of emergency vehicles andequipment, and to prevent looting. The International Covenant on Civiland Political Rights permits rights to be suspended during times“of public emergency which threatens the life of thenation” (Article 4). But it excludes some rights from suspensionincluding the right to life, the prohibition of torture, theprohibition of slavery, the prohibition of ex post facto criminallaws, and freedom of thought and religion.
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These rights are familiar from historic bills of rights such as the (1789) and the (1791, with subsequent amendments). Contemporary sources include the first 21 Articles of the , and such treaties as the , the , the and the . Some representative formulations follow: