What are the Basic Principles of the Human Rights Framework?

The human rights framework protects civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. But no matter what kind of right is at issue, there are basic principles that are always part of human rights standards and implementation. These principles include:

Universality: Human rights must be afforded to everyone, without exception. The entire premise of the framework is that people are entitled to these rights simply by virtue of being human.

Indivisibility: Human rights are indivisible and interdependent, which means that in order to guarantee civil and political rights, a government must also ensure economic, social and cultural rights (and visa versa). The indivisibility principle recognizes that if a government violates rights such as health, it necessarily affects people’s ability to exercise other rights such as the right to life.

Participation: People have a right to participate in how decisions are made regarding protection of their rights. This includes but is not limited to having input on government decisions about rights. To ensure human rights, governments must engage and support the participation of civil society on these issues.

Accountability: Governments must create mechanisms of accountability for the enforcement of rights. It is not enough that rights are recognized in domestic law or in policy rhetoric, there must actually be effective measures put in place so that the government can be held accountable if those rights standards are not met.

Transparency: Transparency means that governments must be open about all information and decision-making processes related to rights. People must be able to know and understand how major decisions affecting rights are made and how public institutions, such as hospitals and schools, which are needed to protect rights, are managed and run.

Non-Discrimination: Human rights must be guaranteed without discrimination of any kind. This includes not only purposeful discrimination, but also protection from policies and practices which may have a discriminatory effect.