Your Rights

Image Courtesy of the Bermuda National Gallery : Togetherness – Norma Lewis

Rights & Freedoms

What are Human Rights?

The term ‘human rights’ is familiar – but not always easy to define. Broadly speaking, human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person. Human rights represent a variety of distinct yet intersected issues. Human rights recognise the inherent value of each person regardless of background, where we live, what we look like or what we believe. They can be understood as follows:

  • The recognition and respect of peoples dignity and worth
  • A set of legal guidelines that promote and protect a recognition of our diverse and individual identity, our national commitment to rights, and an ability to ensure an adequate standard of living
  • The basic standards by which we can identify and measure equality, access and fairness
  • Those rights associated with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the Bermuda Constitution 1968 and the Bermuda Human Rights Act 1981

Human Rights are based on principles of dignity, equality and mutual respect, which are shared across cultures, religions and philosophies. They reflect an expectation to be treated fairly, to treat others fairly and to have the ability to make choices in our daily lives.

Human rights are both simple and complex! The way we bring rights to life is what matters most – the choices we make each day, the actions we take to uphold human rights obligations, and the commitment to understanding and caring for these rights in Bermuda.

The HRC works to balance the rights of everyone in Bermuda while ensuring that we progress and evolve protection to meet the needs of our community for all.

What is a ‘Human Rights-Based Approach’?

A human rights-based approach refers to an approach that integrates human rights (both legal standards and general considerations) into programs, policy, legislative development, and organisational practices to ensure people’s human rights are fundamentally protected and promoted in daily life.

It reflects a commitment to look through a human rights lens and ask questions about equal access and opportunity. It means looking at the curriculum or program or policy you are developing and ask, is it inclusive? Who can access this? And who benefits? Is it discriminatory in some way? Does it allow for equal opportunity?  This approach seeks to identify causes that contribute to unfair outcomes and redress discriminatory practices or unjust distribution of power that may be impeding equal access, fair treatment or opportunity for all.

The commitment to fully integrate human rights into our daily lives and institutional practices is not always easy. Transforming workplace practices, updating approaches to policy development, organisational culture, and discriminatory legislation takes consistent work and dedication.

Through education, engagement and advocacy the Human Rights Commission is committed to providing practical support for the application of a human rights-based approach to work, schools, and civil duty in Bermuda.

Rights Holders versus Duty Bearers

Human beings are rights holders under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights simply by being human, and people can be both duty bearers and rights holders. The relationship is a two-way street.

Individuals and communities need to be aware of their rights as rights holders and be invited to participate in decisions that affect them. A human rights-based approach recognises the entitlement of people to have their needs respected, but also sees people as agents in the realisation of their rights.

Duty bearers are those individuals or authorities who have a particular obligation or responsibility to respect, promote and realize human rights and to abstain from human rights violations (for example governments, businesses, school authorities etc.).

Duty bearers often need assistance to develop the capacity, the resources and the political will to fulfill their commitments to human rights. A rights-based approach helps to increase the capacity of duty-bearers to meet their obligations and encourages rights holders to claim their rights.

Informing, educating and empowering ourselves is essential and enabling participation by ensuring people can access and exercise their rights is central to this process.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

A model of human rights standards was set out for the first time in 1948, by the United Nations. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948, sets out the basic rights and freedoms that apply to all people. Drafted in the aftermath of World War Two, this treaty did not have the force of law, however it has become a foundation document that has inspired many legally-binding international human rights laws. These international and regional human rights treaties continue to be developed and evolved to meet the changing needs and circumstances facing today’s world.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948, sets out the basic rights and freedoms that apply to all people. Drafted in the aftermath of World War Two, it has become a foundation document that has inspired many legally binding international human rights laws.

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