Fulfilment is harmed by situations where people are treated unequally, whether in law, economy, organisation or society. Human rights state basic entitlements all people must receive equally.

Human rights are also statements against treatment that harms people and their fulfilment. They make clear, even though it should already be clear, that the acts they protect people from are harmful.

Torture, servitude, arbitrary arrest, presumption of guilt, restriction of movement, deprival of identity – all clearly harm people and their fulfilment. In a system with a structure and culture based in fulfilment without harm these rights are intrinsic. But in cultures where the wrong way is prevalent, where pursuit of power and money with harm is systemic, rights are ignored or unknown, undermined and violated.

Human rights are a protection for appealing against harm and a checklist for evaluating laws, economies, organisations and societies.

Listed below are rights based on the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights [with related article references where applicable]. In italics are three specific rights not captured in the declaration but deserving recognition.

We have the right…

  • To life, liberty and security. [A. 3]
  • To not be held in servitude or slavery. [A. 4]
  • To not be tortured or subjected to cruel or degrading treatment or punishment. [A. 5]
  • To recognition as a person (before the law). [A. 6]
  • To equal treatment (before the law). [A. 7]
  • To effective remedy for acts violating our rights. [A. 8]
  • To not be arbitrarily arrested, detained or exiled. [A. 9]
  • To a fair and public hearing by an impartial tribunal in determination of rights and charges. [A. 10]
  • To be presumed innocent until proven guilty. [A. 11.1]
  • To not be held guilty of any penal offence not constituting an offence when committed. [A. 11.2]
  • To not be subject to arbitrary interference with our privacy or to attacks on our reputation. [A. 12]
  • To freedom of movement and residence within the borders of our State. [A. 13.1]
  • To leave a country and return to our country. [A. 13.2]
  • To seek in other countries asylum from political persecution. [A. 14.1]
  • To a nationality. [A. 15.1]
  • To not be arbitrarily deprived of nationality nor denied the right to change nationality. [A. 15.2]
  • To an ethnicity.
  • To not be arbitrarily deprived of ethnicity and the right to reside in our homeland.
  • To marry. [A. 16.1]
  • To own property, alone as well as in association with others. [A. 17.1]
  • To not be arbitrarily deprived of property. [A. 17.2]
  • To freedom of thought. [A. 18]
  • To freedom of opinion and expression of opinion through any medium. [A. 19]
  • To freedom of assembly and association. [A. 20.1]
  • To not be compelled to belong to an association. [A. 20.2]
  • To take part in government directly or through freely chosen representatives. [A. 21.1]
  • To equal access to public service. [A. 21.2]
  • To social security and to economic, social and cultural rights for personal development. [A. 22]
  • To work, choice of employment, just and favourable conditions, and unemployment protection. [A. 23.1]
  • To equal pay for equal work. [A. 23.2]
  • To just and favourable remuneration. [A. 23.3]
  • To form and join trade unions for the protection of our interests. [A. 23.4]
  • To rest and leisure. [A. 24]
  • To a standard of living adequate for health and wellbeing. [A. 25.1]
  • To a clean, attractive, harmonious environment.
  • To education. [A. 26.1]
  • To choose the kind of education given to our children. [A. 26.3]
  • To participate in the community. [A. 27.1]
  • To material interest from our ideas. [A. 27.2]
  • To a social and international order in which these rights can be fully realised. [A. 28]

We have all of these rights and they are worth recalling. By identifying these harms, and asserting common rights against them, fulfilment is assisted. The more human rights are adopted in laws, economies, organisations and societies the more fulfilment without harm becomes the basis of the system and the greater it is realised.


[Excerpt from The Common Purpose]


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