1. Are human rights universal?

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Are human rights universal?

Yes. Human rights are inherent to all human beings solely because of being human, no matter where they live. Human rights originate in the equal dignity of all human beings and at the same time aim at protecting it. Since “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, Article 1), human rights are universal.

This normative assumption on universality contained in the Universal Declaration has been spelled out as binding law in the international human rights treaties of the United Nations (UN). The origins of contemporary human rights treaties can be traced back to the experiences of injustice during the two world wars and to the decolonization movement starting in the 1940s. Almost all human rights treaties have meanwhile been ratified by the majority of states and are the most important framework for the implementation of human rights.

States that have not ratified a particular treaty are still bound to observe certain human rights. The right to life and the ban on genocide, torture, slavery and discrimination on grounds of race is binding for all states under all circumstances.