What is a Right?
Human rights are standards that recognize and protect the dignity of human beings. They govern how individual human beings live in society and with each other, and also define the relationship individuals have with governments and the obligations that governments have towards individuals. Human rights law obligates governments to do some things, and prevents them from doing others. Individuals also have responsibilities in exercising their human rights–that they must respect the rights of others in doing so. No government, group or individual has the right to do anything that violates another’s rights. Human rights are:
- Inherent–we are born with them and they belong to us as a result of our common humanity.
- Inalienable–we cannot give them up and they cannot be taken away.
- Universal–they are held by all people, everywhere.
- Equal–no right is superior to any other.
- Indivisible, interrelated and interdependent–rights cannot be treated separately or in distinct categories because the enjoyment of one right usually depends on the fulfillment of other rights.
The Rights of Children and Youth
- Internationally, the rights of children and youth are articulated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Nationally, the rights of all Canadians, including children and youth, are articulated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- Provincially, the rights of children and youth are articulated in the Children and Youth First Principles.
- Indigenous children, youth and families, the principles to guide reconciliation in Child Welfare are articulated in the Touchstones of Hope.