8 Legal Rights You’re Owed, Just By Existing!

As members of the human family, certain inalienable legal rights are our birthright.  These laws recognize the dignity and equality of every individual, and are the bedrock of worldwide liberty, peace, and justice.  The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as governments around the world, have established the legal rights that are owed to each person, just by existing.  Here are eight of them.

Right to leisure

We all enjoy rest and relaxation, but did you know that the United Nations considers it to be a fundamental birthright of each human being, according to Article 24 of the Declaration of Human Rights?  It wasn’t always so easy for members of society to put up their feet, but through hard-won worker’s rights, limits on the number of hours that can be worked in a week and designated paid holidays are now guaranteed in the UK and in democratic societies throughout the world.

The right to privacy

The right to privacy is a fundamental human right protected by Article 12 of the Declaration of Human Rights.  The article states that individuals’ privacy cannot be taken away arbitrarily.  No one has the right to disturb your home and family or intercept your correspondence without just cause, and no one has the right arbitrarily to destroy your reputation.

In the UK, while there isn’t a specific “Right to Privacy” law on the books, individuals have been afforded much greater protections of privacy under various laws, especially Article 8 of the Human Rights Act of 1998.  Specifically, the article prevents the government from disrupting an individual’s privacy without motivation.  Article 8 has had a particularly broad impact in terms of protecting gay rights.

Right to know

In today’s virtual world, companies and institutions hold a vast amount of data regarding our personal lives.   Thanks to the Data Protection Act (DPA) in the UK, it is your right to gain access to such information held by public and private entities.  Want to know what’s contained in your medical or school records?  Or perhaps you need to make a correction on your credit report.  The DPA provides for these.  In the broadest possible terms, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows individuals to access all the information about themselves that is held by public entities and government institutions.  The public also has the right to access information not of a personal nature held by public bodies under the FOIA.  It is the public institution’s responsibility to make the information accessible to the public.

The right to peaceful protest

Surprisingly, other than the freedom of peaceful assembly, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights doesn’t specifically address the right to peaceful protest.  However, in the UK the Human Rights Act guarantees the right to peaceful protest, which is a long-standing tradition in the UK and is essential to free societies worldwide.  In the UK it was only achieved through the hard struggle of others throughout history.  Unfortunately, in today’s violent world, certain restrictions have been placed on peaceful protest to address threats such as terrorism.  New laws have been passed allowing the police greater abilities to control protestors’ movements and actions.

The right to copyright creative work

Art lovers, writers, and, yes, scientists rejoice!  Article 27 of the Declaration of Human Rights specifically addresses the right of individuals to protect their original work.  The type of works protected encompasses everything the human imagination can dream up, whether a scientific innovation, a sculpture, or literary fiction.  Others cannot copy the works without obtaining the right to do so from the work’s author.

A more surprising aspect of Article 27 is that it also insists on the right to art appreciation and the enjoyment of science and technology. We all reserve the right to enjoy art and its many benefits to the community, as well as to take advantage of the newest innovations in science for the enhancement of our quality of life.

Freedom of movement

Article 13 of the Declaration of Human Rights establishes the right of individuals to go where they want, when they want, including the right to come and go from their country of origin.  This right, which many in free societies might take for granted, has important political implications: Article 13 also establishes the right for those being persecuted for political reasons in one country to seek asylum in another.  Ultimately, this reflects one’s own safety as being another basic human right.

Be who you are

The right to develop one’s personality freely is a basic right mentioned frequently throughout the Declaration of Human Rights.  According to Article 22 of the Human Rights Declaration, individuals should be able to take advantage of all the socioeconomic rights afforded to her, in terms of maintaining her dignity and commanding respect, because it is necessary for the development of her own personality.  Article 26 of the Declaration states, that education too is the cornerstone of personality development.  The Declaration was created to help people live up to their fullest potential, and expressing themselves freely as individuals, is paramount.  Everyone is entitled to freedom of religion and expression because they are the bedrock of democratic society, and because each individual has something special to contribute to the world by fully realizing her complex identity.

The right to use the law

The law belongs to everybody, and each individual has the right to enjoy the protections it provides.  According to Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, each individual has the right to seek recourse in the law if his rights have been violated in any way.  The law is a tool at the disposal of every individual; it is not to be feared, but to be utilized as a tool that will protect his basic freedoms.  Suspects, defendants and prisoners all have protections under the law in the UK.  We might take many aspects of the law for granted, but the following comprise extremely important basic rights related to the law in free societies: suspects are to be considered innocent until proven guilty; defendants have the right to a fair and impartial trial, and the punishment must fit the crime.

The legal rights we are owed just for existing represent humanity’s highest achievements.  Unfortunately many around the world do not enjoy these basic freedoms. Yet UN’s Universal Declaration of Human remains a doctrine to which every nation around the world can aspire.

This article was contributed by Rachel Glover who specializes in sharing information about factors that influence communication, employee engagement and general business strategy.

Images: License: Creative Commons image source

About The Author

We welcome contributions from other bloggers and self-improvement experts.