What are human rights?
Human rights recognise the inherent value of each person, regardless of background, where we live, what we look like, what we think or what we believe.
They are based on principles of dignity, equality and mutual respect, which are shared across cultures, religions and philosophies. They are about being treated fairly, treating others fairly and having the ability to make genuine choices in our daily lives.
Respect for human rights is the cornerstone of strong communities in which everyone can make a contribution and feel included.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948, sets out the basic rights and freedoms that apply to all people. Drafted in the aftermath of World War Two, it has become a foundation document that has inspired many legally-binding international human rights laws.
The Australian Government has agreed to uphold and respect many of these human rights treaties including the:
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
- Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Commission has a responsibility to monitor Australia’s performance in meeting its international human rights commitments. We provide advice and recommendations so that these standards are reflected in our national laws, as well as policies and programs developed by government.
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More information on human rights, their origins and the international human rights system is available