About this Subject Guide
Much of the information relating to human rights was generated after WW II following the adoption in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/) and relates to legal or political rights.
After this time several organizations began to track the status of human rights in various regions. These resports are published in Country Studies or Yearbooks and more information on accessing these materials can be found by going to the tab Find Country Reports.
However, it is generally understood that human rights, from a philosophical or ideological perpective, can be traced to the beginning of civilization and concern the moral or implicit rights that are considered inalienable and inherent to humanity.
"The goal of human rights, both moral and legal, is to ensure the dignity of every human being." Redman, N. & Whalen, L. (1998). Human Rights: A Reference Handbook. (Santa Barbara, CA: Contemporary World Issues), 1-2.
Use the above tabs to find information from the various sources or go to the News tab to learn about the latests news on human rights issues.
Relationship to International Humanitarian Law
The relationship between international humanitarian law and human rights law often causes confusion.
International humanitarian law applies during the period of armed conflict and is also known as the law of armed conflict; its focus is on protecting the rights of wounded combatants, POWs and civilians at times of war.
Human rights law applies during war or peace time and deals primarily with government violations of people's civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
For more information about this topic see "International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law: Similarities and Differences" published by the International Red Cross (which focuses on Humanitarian Law) at http://www.icrc.org/eng/assets/files/other/ihl_and_ihrl.pdf