Taking Responsibility for Human Rights
August 16, 2005
This essay, featured on the Youth For Human Rights web site, comes from Berza Simsek (20 years old) of Turkey. Youth for Human Rights encourages young people to submit their writing and art work publishes outstanding examples, such as this one.
To understand the meaning of taking responsibility for human rights, we must first think about the concept. At once, it is both basic and complex. It is basic because they are the fundamental rights of every human being, and it is complex because rights and responsibilities should be taught together. These are not only rights for a single person, but for all people. For this reason, this concept must be considered in its social, political, moral and philosophical aspects.
To explain what "taking responsibility for human rights" means, I conceived of human rights as a chain. The effort to complete and unite all the rings of this chain, to me, is what it means to take responsibility for human rights. I realize that it seems utopian to actually complete the rings of the chain in the world as it is, but it is the only way to secure world peace.
Taking responsibility for the rights of others begins with loving all humanity and respecting them for their humanity. If we remember that all human beings are equal, free and valuable, maybe human beings will at last love and respect each other.
The second of the chain of human rights includes satisfying fundamental needs. These fundamental needs must be met to achieve each of the human rights. To provide fundamental rights, the sanctity of human life must be guaranteed. This means not killing, not torturing, not endangering life and so on. Guaranteeing life, adequate food, clothing, shelter, health service, clean water and air is important. Opportunities for developing human rights must be provided.
Accepting such a responsibility is not enough; we must also carry this responsibility into action, because theory is nothing without deeds. Nowadays, the awareness of human rights and practice in line with this kind of idea does not yet exist. This is because of the gap between principles and actual practice. Reaching this higher awareness, the concept of rights and duties emerges.
Human rights come with responsibilities. If I donít fulfill my duties, your rights canít come into existence, and vice versa. Therefore, to take responsibility for the human rights of others means to fulfill our reciprocal duties.