Background to Human Rights

As socialists, we believe in human rights based on the equal human worth of every person.

This page will be an introduction to the pages below, setting out a socialist basis for human rights.

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world.

Ideas about human rights have evolved over many centuries. But they achieved strong international support following the Holocaust and World War II. To protect future generations from a repeat of these horrors, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. For the first time, the Universal Declaration set out the fundamental rights and freedoms shared by all human beings.

Courage of human rights defenders


" The bloody struggles for freedom and human rights across the Middle East are poignantly emblematic of the cry for better conditions facing thousands of men and women across other parts of the world who dare to stand up for human rights.

Today, Friday 24 February, dozens of some of the most courageous human rights defenders from across the globe are joining together at a conference in London – titled Defending Human Rights Defenders, and taking place at the Amnesty Human Rights Action Centre – to examine the threats and challenges to the protection of their work.

These men and women include defenders like Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers, who has faced death threats for his work to defend human rights in the Philippines.

We know all too well the danger faced by human rights defenders who take on injustice and the critical role that we in the international community must play in supporting them. Offering protection to these brave people is in some instances a matter of life and death."

Kate AllenDirector, Amnesty International UK

Michael Mansfield QC President, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers