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What are the universal human rights? - Benedetta Berti

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The basic idea of human rights is that each one of us, no matter who we are or where we are born, is entitled to the same basic rights and freedoms. That may sound straightforward enough, but it gets incredibly complicated as soon as anyone tries to put the idea into practice. What exactly are the basic human rights? Who gets to pick them? Who enforces them—and how? Benedetta Berti explores the subtleties of human rights.

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TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Benedetta Berti
  • Director Sarah Saidan
  • Animator Amin Haghshenas
  • Sound Designer Stephen LaRosa
  • Narrator Susan Zimmerman

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
Interested in knowing a bit more about international Human Rights Law? In the past decades, the general principles enunciated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have given life to a body of law: international human right law. Among the key documents that expand on the UN UDHR are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which, together with the UDHR, form the so-called “International Bill of rights.”

Take a look at the ‘core’ human rights instruments and at the UN bodies set up to protect human rights and monitor their implementation.

Outside the United Nations, regional-based human rights documents also emerged across the world, such as the European Convention on Human Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights; and the African Union Charter of Human and People's Rights. In each case these regional instruments are designed to strengthen the monitoring and enforcement of human rights law, for example by setting up local bodies to advise states on how to better defend human rights and, in certain cases, to investigate violations.

But protecting and defending human rights is not just a job for the international system and/or for individual states. Civil society has played a key role in monitoring, investigating and defending human rights across the globe. Today, many human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International as well as countless small local groups work to advance the rights of all humans.

A few more resources to get you started:
H. Steiner and P. Alston, International Human Rights in Context. Law, Politics, Morals
L. Hunt, Inventing Human Rights: A History
J. Donnelly, Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice
A. Ahmed An-Na'im, Human Rights in Cross-Cultural Perspectives A Quest for Consensus
M. A. Glendon, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Benedetta Berti
  • Director Sarah Saidan
  • Animator Amin Haghshenas
  • Sound Designer Stephen LaRosa
  • Narrator Susan Zimmerman

Share

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