Around the world, there are many areas where attention must be paid to basic human rights. From the right to life and liberty to freedom of work and education, there are many areas where human rights can be improved. Aseil Al-Shehail, independent consultant and human rights advocate, shares the meaning of being a human rights advocate. She explores the most critical human rights issues and explains how basic protections can help people live healthy and dignified lives.
Human Rights Advocacy
Human rights advocates must be able to promote their initiatives using their communication skills. They need to be compassionate toward disadvantaged people and have respect for all individuals. Human rights advocates need to have diplomatic skills and the ability to promote their causes by contacting governments and those that can help affect change. Finally, human rights advocates need to possess a deep conviction to support their causes despite potential opposition.
Focus Areas for Human Rights Advocates
In many countries, liberties are being curtailed and people have become victims of violence and oppression.
Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
One important area of focus, for human rights advocates, is economic, social, and cultural rights. People must be allowed to work in satisfactory conditions. They also need an adequate standard of living and to have their physical and mental well-being supported. Finally, everyone should have the right to education and cultural freedom.
Economic rights are another crucial piece of the puzzle. Every citizen needs to have the right to work and the right to choose their own jobs. They must not be compelled to work in specific capacities at the government’s choosing. They must receive fair and equitable pay for their efforts, and they must have safe and healthy working conditions.
A living wage is another important institution. Many countries do not mandate that full-time workers receive a wage adequate to support themselves with a decent living. This is an area that requires significant change.
Workers have the right to reasonable working hours, time off for vacations, rest days, and family leave, as needed.
Employees should have the right to form and participate in trade unions. These unions need to be able to organize on a national and international level, as desired. Workers need to have the right to strike when their rights are not being respected.
Family rights are essential as well. All young people must be respected regardless of their parentage. Families need to be supported, and marriage must be a matter of free will for both parties. The age of legal marriage needs to be restricted to protect young women from exploitation. Expecting and new mothers need to be accounted for in the workplace.
All children should have the right to special measures of protection. They should be protected from social and economic exploitation. If they are able to work, the conditions must be strictly observed. Countries need to set age limits for working youth and to restrict their hours to allow for economic and social development.
Civil and Political Rights
Civil and political rights are another key area of focus. The United Nations holds that every person should have the right to freely determine their political status. Governments need to take their citizens’ rights into consideration when planning policies. They need to respect their citizens as human beings while helping them participate in the political process. This applies not only to democratic countries, but to governments of all types.
All people should have the right to practice their political beliefs and to avoid oppression from government sources. Political and civil rights must be given equally without regard to race, color, sex, language, religion, political opinion, national origin, property, or birth. There are many countries around the world where these rights are under assault, and human rights advocates like Aseil Al-Shehail are instrumental in preserving them for everyone.
People must be able to dispose of their own wealth and resources in any way they see fit. They must not be denied their means of subsistence.
When rights are violated, there must be clear direction for recourse. The case must be heard by a competent legislative, administrative, or judicial authority, and fair remedies should be prescribed.
The right to life is also protected by the United Nations and by human rights advocates. It is imperative that no human being be deprived of their life arbitrarily. While some countries, like the United States, have not abolished the death penalty for serious crimes, strict rules must be followed. Additionally, military service must be performed under certain rules, and where countries require compulsory military service, the rights of conscientious objectors need to be respected.
Finally, one of the most basic human rights, that is still being withheld in some places, is slavery or forced labor. This practice must be abolished globally.
Supporting Fair Conditions for All
When human rights advocates work together, they will be able to enhance living conditions globally. Basic human rights will be protected, and people will be able to live their lives free of oppression. For many, this may simply be an idealized vision of the world, but human rights advocates, like Aseil Al-Shehail, it is not just a vision, it’s a responsibility.