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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Human Rights: Getting started

Your guide to books, articles and other resources on human rights.

About this Subject Guide

This guide was designed to help undergraduate students find books, articles and other information relating to human rights. 

UN Universsal DeclarationMuch 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 ( and relates to legal or political rights.

This led to the tracking of the status of human rights in various regions in publications called Country Studies or Yearbooks. For  more information go to the tab Find Country Reports

However,  it is generally understood that human rights, from a philosophical or ideological perspective, 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 latest news on human rights issues.

What are human rights?

                            copied from United Nations Office of High Commissioner website,

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

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