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Table of Contents

Introduction. 3

Findings. 3

Discussion. 4

Introduction of Human Rights. 4

Different Opinions towards Human Rights. 5

Ancient Human Rights and Slavery. 6

Revolution of Human Rights. 6

Challenges. 7

Leaders in Opposition of Human Rights. 8

Modern Slavery. 9

Conclusion. 10

Human Rights


By the beginning of the nineteenth century, human rights topics popularized in the United States as many individuals rose fighting for peace, equality and freedom. During the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century, individuals had freedom though their lands lacked adequate human resources, which was an utter necessity for the fortification of the landowners in their newly inhabited nations. The country thus, embraced slavery as a practical necessity in making huge profits since it is inexpensive and rewarding. The combination of ideology of freedom, equality and freedom resulted in the duality of existence phenomenon, which defined and distinguished the difference in human rights between the Americans and Americans. By definition, human rights are the ethical principles, which set specific standards on human behavior and protected in internal law and national law as legal rights. Since an individual is human in nature, the term is understood as the indisputable fundamental rights entitled to one and are egalitarian and universal. Conversely, the concept dates back to the sixteenth century by Spanish clerics regarding the rights of indigenous people. Most of the explanations based on philosophies on human rights from the past. Nonetheless, some political leaders opposed this idea and worked against it. Human rights are a universal factor that has gone through various steps before its actualization in the current world though it still faces some challenges and opposition.


Human rights ideologies culminated from the aftermaths of the mayhem of Holocaust and the Second World War. It is after this period that the world resolved to adopt Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General in 1948 and signed in Paris. In the past, communities lacked universal rights though they typically had their respective conceptions of political legitimacy, justice and duties systems, which took note of human flourishing, well-being and dignity that were autonomous of human rights. Progressively, human rights evolved from the religious conservatism and feudal authoritarianism accompanied with protestant reformation from the middle ages. Ideally, different theories state that the human rights evolved and developed in the West though they lacked the proper definition of the term compared to other communities who had vital ethical concepts. This should however not be confused with liberty charters such as Margna Carta since they represent legal agreement with political powers in search for equality and do not concern human rights. After evolution of human rights in the West, came the issue of slavery where indigenous persons served as human laborers for the whites. Re-tracking from such mal practices required massive fights and debates before its actualization by the end of the 20th century (Hanke, L, n.d., 1). Nonetheless, leaders such as Sadam Hussein disregarded the principles of human rights in his region. Human rights issues still exist in the present day from groups such as Boko Haram who still believe in slavery.


Introduction of Human Rights

            Ideas related to natural law resulted in conceptualization of human rights from the 16th to the 18th centuries. During these periods, different scholars came up with different definitions and theories involving human rights. Previously, Aristotle had already established his classical perspectives regarding human rights. Commonly referred to as the father of human rights, Aristotle viewed the issue from a political perspective in the sense that they spring from an existing bonds between the state and individuals (Hanke, L, n.d., 1). According to his theory, the political society determines whether a situation is just or not since it is its principle order and the hierarchy originates from families. It is from his ideologies that natural law evolved. The evidence of this phenomenon relies on the interpretations by Aquinas and developed through Stoics ideologies. Therefore, the government natural defines the rights of individuals since everyone should be free within the society.

Different Opinions towards Human Rights

However, Aristotle’s theory on human rights also supports slavery. According to Aristotelian doctrine, slavery is a natural law. His believes were that a specific proportion of the society is born to be slaves by nature and work effortlessly for their masters who are set aside to supervise their slaves. This theory motivated the American nation to embrace slavery while taking their neighboring nations and Africans as their free human laborers. Based on the Aristotelian doctrine, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda believed that the society naturally existed in two parts, the slaves and their masters (Eede, J, n.d., 1) In the Valladoid debate, he supported the idea of slavery and that the term itself existed for a sole purpose of identification amongst individuals. The existence of slaves was just but a social order emanating from natural law. The Spanish jurist not only persisted on the slavery of the Indians but also stated that they are harsh, ignorant and rude individuals who cannot reform without enforcing the laws. With great erudition and tenacity, he stated that the Indians adoption of Christianity could not only rely on the law but through force such as slavery. His views raised various discussions in the world and United States of America in particular.

Conversely, other Spanish clerics had different views regarding slavery. Bartolomé de Las Casas believed that all human beings were equal and there was non-superior than the other. This was after conquering Mexico by Cortez in 1550. During the debate, Las Casas argued in favor of the indigenous people and persisted in their right to freedom from slavery regardless of their social status, religion or race (Hanke, L, n.d., 1). The ideas of these two men contrasted even further spurning more debates pertaining to slavery. The contradicting ideologies troubled the king conscience and decided to suspend the debate to the American public before a junta including officials, jurists and theologians of the highest rank in the Valladoid’s capital (Keane, D 2007,80). The issues raised during this debate spurred the world into concluding and adopting their own ideologies regarding slavery.

Ancient Human Rights and Slavery

The ability to get their work done and their lands tilled appealed to the Spaniards in the sixteenth century. Spaniards were great men of honor, men who believed in fighting for their freedom, land and their king. They would go to greater lengths and even die in their process but their commitment was unquestionable. The passion for combat victory and religious conquests with a great disgust for manual labor characterized the Spaniards (Eede, J, n.d., 1). Additionally, their love for war awarded them with huge pieces of land. Thus, the ability to have slaves, who would do their work, excited them. This period marked a significant step towards adopting slavery in America. The native Indians were subjected to harsh punishments and labor because of their lack of power over the domineering white population. Eventually, the Indians revolted and the Spaniards referred to them as cannibals. However, a poet distinguished that the Indians were not flesh eaters but individuals who sort wanted peace and freedom from slavery. Revolution of Human Rights

Following the arguments presented by the two Spanish clerics, the world stated progressing towards attaining human rights and equality. In 1689, the British Bill of Rights and Claim of Right in Scottish resolved to make certain practices illegal. These encompassed a wide range of government oppressing factors in the 18th century. This act was followed by revolutions in 1776 and 1789 in America and France respectively resulting in the adoption of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizens in the latter and the United States Declaration of Independence in the former. By the 19th century, slavery became a major issue of concern among the human rights activists. With the help of individuals such as Wilberforce William in Britain helped reform human rights. Between 1777 and 1804, the United States of America had discarded the slavery issue through abolishing its existence through several amendments (Eede, J, n.d., 1). Gross abuses and huge losses of human lives after the First World War were the driving force behind the existence of international human rights following the establishment of the League of Nations in 1919. After the Second World War, nations resolved to create an organization that supported the League of Nations. This marked the creation of the United Nations that plays a major role in ensuring human rights are observer up to current dates. Challenges

            Currently, human rights are still facing potential problems. Global inequalities and poverty are the main challenges facing human rights. Not all members of the society can acquire the same social status. There are those who are superior to others. The inability to access basic needs and making ends meet results from high levels of poverty, which makes the less fortunate in the society, be vulnerable to slavery. This gives the well off in society an upper hand by acquiring cheap labor while incurring minor expenses. Additionally, discrimination in terms of religion, race and ethnicity propagate slavery. There are other communities considered less than others in the societal context, with whom they have to labor for the most important figures in the society (Eede, J, n.d., 1). This is common with individuals in the society whose background is different from those in their current locations.

Moreover, cases of impunity are not so rare in the society. People tend to wrong others and often go unpunished on several occasions. Wrongdoers therefore develop a habit of repeating the same mistake of treating others unfairly. Propagated by the weak institutions, law offenders get a way of conducting their businesses without having the fear of being arrested and jailed for their wrong doings. This factor not only facilitates slavery in the community but also interferes with human rights policies including their right to protection. Weak institutions incorporate with democracy deficits into defying human rights (Thompson, C., Schaefer, E. R., & Brod, H. 2003, 143). Currently, the most deteriorating factor towards attaining full human rights is the presence of armed violence and conflict. Communities with the accessibility to armed weapons often resolve their issues by taking part of the rivals’ members in the society and abducting them. The act itself goes against human rights. They progress further and enslave their subjects. Despite numerous governments’ ambitions to implement these challenges, they still face certain challenges. This is due to the presence of capacity, security, knowledge and commitment gaps that makes challenges of human rights globally, inevitable.

Leaders in Opposition of Human Rights

Universal concept regarding human rights received different responses across the globe with most leaders integrating it into their systems while others rejected the values it upheld. I n the case of Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, he did not believe in the idea of everybody having the freedom to conduct their businesses freely (Thompson, C., Schaefer, E. R., & Brod, H. 2003, 143). People in his country lived in constant fear for their lives because he acted out of impulse. This forced most individuals in Iraq to flee their homes because of the harsh conditions they face from Hussein’s regime. He poses as an example of the few leaders who disregarded human rights in his region. Most importantly, he denied the citizens the chance to stand and oppose him in power. Among his many violations was torture. Political enemies received a high degree of torture with which the Amnesty and other human rights related organizations refer to it as inhumane with the worst-case scenario of a family whose mother was strip naked and cigarette-burned severally as her children watched.

According to his ideologies, women lacked the right to exist and live amongst community members. Reports from the Amnesty organization state that women were treated as lesser counterparts in the community. Women were arrested without any charges against them, ill treated, tortured and even executed at certain instances (Foreign and Commonwealth Office London 2002, 6). The jails were in pathetic conditions, unfit for human survival. Arbitrary killings were a common phenomenon with executions on communities was conducted without observing the legal process (Thompson, C., Schaefer, E. R., & Brod, H. 2003, 143). Additionally, Hussein supported beheading individuals out of pleasure. Since he came from a different community, he punished those from his neighboring areas such as the Kurds. All of his practices were against human rights. For approximately 10 years, he denied support from other organizations regarding human rights such as the United Nations. The world’s efforts including America to reduce war and sabotage Hussein’s reign has been a difficult task resulting in war and numerous disputes and disagreements. Hussein is an example of leaders in the world who oppose the universal concept of human rights.

Modern Slavery

Slavery did not end in the pre-colonial era but progressed to current times with cases such as those of Boko Haram in Nigeria. Boko Haram is a military group that aims at protecting Islamic laws in the north of Niger and Cameroon and northeastern side of Nigeria. Currently, the group is viewed as one of the forces working against national development and human rights. The organization does not support ideologies such as western education and studying amongst women. They believe in persecuting individuals who does not support Islam (Abubakar, A. & Levs, J. 2014, 1). This is a negative factor on the Nigerian government, which has tried to curb the problem. Currently, the group has abducted several girls and claiming that they would sell them off as slaves if their men were not released. This shows that slavery is still present within communities and that it goes against human rights.  


Human rights are a universal component of equality amongst societal members. Before its actualization, human rights have gone through various stages before its integration into the society. This is together with the support from theories relating to the terminology from the classical periods, which had diverse meanings regarding their ideologies. Aristotle, being the father of human rights presented contrasting views pertaining to human rights, which are diverse from present definitions. Progressively, the world resolved to form bodies that are in support of the idea with some leaders opposing its values. Currently, the world has attained its goals regarding human rights with the exception of few instances such as the existence of Boko Haram.



Abubakar, A & Levs, J, 2014, ‘I Will Sell Them,’ Boko Haram Leader Says Of Kidnapped Nigerian Girls, CNN, viewed 13 May 12, 2014, <>.

Eede, J, n.d., ‘For All People’s of the World are Men’, Survival, viewed 13 May 12, 2014, <>.

Hanke, L, n.d., Aristotle and America to 1550, ChickenBones: A Journal, viewed 13 May 12, 2014, <>.

Keane, D 2007, Caste-based discrimination in international human rights law, Aldershot, Hants, England, Ashgate Pub. Thompson, C, Schaefer, E R, & Brod, H 2003, White men challenging racism: 35 personal stories, Durham, Duke University Press.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office London, 2002, Sadam Hussein Crimes and Human Rights Abuses, Foreign and Commonwealth Office London.






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