INTRODUCTION TO HUMAN RIGHTS – WHAT ARE THEY? WHY DO WE NEED THEM?Human rights are rights that people have because they are born as humans. Human rights are not given to a citizen like other rights. They are a part of a person. The government does not grant these rights. Governments only recognize human rights. In 1948 the United Nations approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document sets a common standard for all people and all nations. It states that human rights are fundamental and must be universally protected. This shows that countries are willing to protect rights and agree that these rights should be universal.Human rights are a part of international law and domestic law. International documents pressurize the governments not to disregard the rights of people. Municipal laws ensure that people can approach the courts if their rights are violated.WHY ARE HUMAN RIGHTS IMPORTANTHuman rights are important as they appreciate the inherent dignity in human life. They protect values that are inherent to human life like liberty and human dignity. Human rights do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion and occupation. They treat everyone in the same way. These rights are important as they ensure that all humans are treated with a certain level of dignity. Our collective awareness is driven by human rights. This means that irrespective of any difference between people they are entitled to the same protections under human rights. Human rights are not only applicable to certain sections of society. It does not matter if you are rich or poor, a girl or a boy. They are equally applicable to men and woman, old people and children. Human rights are very important to protect the interests of weak and helpless groups in the society. The majority cannot disregard the minority. Human rights allow the minorities to voice their concerns. Human rights documents also give space for regional preferences. For example, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights also recognizes the importance of tradition and values of African civilization while protecting human rights. The Charter gives importance to community rights along with individual rights.WHAT IS HUMAN DIGNITY AND LIBERTY?Human dignity and human liberty are the basis of human rights. It is by respecting dignity that people respect other people. By respecting a person, one acknowledges that they are important and a part of the society.Liberty ensures that people have the freedom to do what they want. Liberty ensures that everyone is free to express their ideas. This is a very helpful tool against an oppressive government. If lots of ideas are voiced in society, the politicians will try to apply these ideas in policy decisions.Following dignity and liberty, other rights include the right to food, good health and education.Human rights ensure that people live a meaningful life. When human rights are promoted people have an environment where they can grow and achieve their full potential. Every person has vast potential to achieve what they want. Human rights ensure that the people have the opportunity to grow and do well.When people have a means to participate in society they will not go to war. They will try and resolve the issues in a democratic manner by voicing their opinions. There will be peace in the society and the society will progress.