Human Rights Violations Throughout History – What We Need to Know

human rights violations examples in history

There have been various human rights violations throughout history.

All human beings have the right to equal, free lives and should advocate for such.

Introduction of various human rights violations during history.

We have an obligation to learn from the past and understand what human rights violations were committed so as to not repeat them.

Human Rights Violations Throughout History

human rights violations examples in history

Human rights violations happen when a person’s rights are not recognized.

Human rights violation such as discrimination and abuse happen when a person’s freedom and dignity are not recognized.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 declared that all are entitled to human rights, and has been preserved to this day.

Countries that fail to recognize and promote human rights face heavy criticism from around the world, with some even being subject to punishment.

There have been various examples of punishment to those that have committed human right violations throughout history.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was established in response to the atrocities during WWII, including the Holocaust. The document outlines the human rights that all people are entitled to such as freedom from torture, freedom of expression, and the right to seek asylum. When those rights aren’t protected or blatantly disregarded, they are violated. What are the types of human rights violations? Who is responsible for preventing and addressing them?

Reference : “What Are Human Rights Violations? – Human Rights Careers”


Discrimination is one example of human rights violations.

Discrimination of race, gender, and nationality are just a few examples.

All human beings are equally entitled to their human rights and discrimination should never be permitted.

Abuse of the Death Penalty

Abuse of the death penalty is a violation of human rights.

There are cases when governments use the death penalty as a tool for themselves. The death penalty tramples on any possibility of having a fair trial.

Civil and Political Rights

Genocide, torture, and arbitrary detainment are examples of violations of civil and political human rights.

All human beings have the right to a free life and the right to freedom of speech.
Our rights must never be violated by the government nor by war.

Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

All people are entitled to economic, social, and cultural rights.
All people have the right to an education, to health care, as well as the right to choose a profession freely.
These rights must be protected by the countries, governments, and corporations.

The History of Human Rights Violations (Before the 20th Century)

human rights violations examples in history

The history of human rights violations can be traced back to the Roman Empire.
By understanding the history of human rights, we can come to understand why they are so important today.

  • Natural Law (Ancient Rome)
  • Magna Carta (1215)
  • English Bill of Rights (1689)
  • Declaration of the Rights of Man in France (1789)
  • Constitution and Bill of Rights in the United States (1791)

The Concept of Human Rights

The idea of human rights has existed since the Roman Empire.

The concept of human rights emerged with “Natural Law” from Ancient Rome. It gave people the right to live their lives freely as a rule of nature.

The idea of Natural Law established the foundation of human rights, and led to many important writings throughout history.

Magna Carta (1215)

The Magna Carta is the pioneer of constitutional history.

King John of the Kingdom of England was forced to sign the Magna Carta by the English barons after repeatedly violating laws and customs of England at the time.

The human rights written in the Magna Carta became a foundation for modern human rights.

The Magna Carta constituted that the church cannot interfere with political matters, as well as guaranteed people the right to property and inheritance.

These rights and guarantees to the people of the Kingdom of England limited how much authority the government could impose on its citizens. The Magna Carta helped shape modern human rights for over the past 800 years.

The United States Declaration of Independence (1776)

On July 4, 1776, the United States Congress declared independence.

The Declaration of Independence recognized the independency of the United States from England, as well as guaranteed individual rights and the right to revolution of the American people.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their CREATOR, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Reference : “Congress, July 4, 1776. The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America. – The Library of Congress”

The United States Constitution (1787) and Bill of Rights (1791))

The United States Constitution written in Philadelphia in 1787 became the foundation for the structure of the US federal government.

It constitutes citizens’ rights and is considered to be the oldest written constitution.

The Bill of Rights, which was later added to the Constitution, protects the rights of US citizens.

It declares the government unable to take away the rights of its citizens; these rights include freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom to assemble.

The ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man’ During the French Revolution (1789)

In 1789, absolute monarchy in France was abolished and the foundation for the French Republic was built.

After the Storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution, the Declaration of the Rights of Man (Declaration des droits de l’Homme et du citoyen) was adopted.

It guarantees French citizens’ rights to freedom, property, and safety.

Les représentants du peuple français, constitués en Assemblée nationale, considérant que l’ignorance, l’oubli ou le mépris des droits de l’homme sont les seules causes des malheurs publics et de la corruption des gouvernements, ont résolu d’exposer, dans une déclaration solennelle, les droits naturels, inaliénables et sacrés de l’homme, afin que cette déclaration, constamment présente à tous les membres du corps social, leur rappelle sans cesse leurs droits et leurs devoirs ; afin que les actes du pouvoir législatif, et ceux du pouvoir exécutif, pouvant être à chaque instant comparés avec le but de toute institution politique, en soient plus respectés ; afin que les réclamations des citoyens, fondées désormais sur des principes simples et incontestables, tournent toujours au maintien de la Constitution et au bonheur de tous.

Reference : “Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen de 1789 – conseil-constitutionnel”

The History of Human Rights Violations in the 20th Century

human rights violations examples in history

Human Rights Violations started gaining attention only from the 20th century.

It is important to know that certain types of people were not included in eligibility for human rights before the 20th century.

Women, people of color, and certain social, religious, and political groups were not included.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted in 1948, and the universal definition of human rights was established in the world.

Human rights issues have become a point of discussion around the world since the United Nations was formed.

Establishment of the International Labor Organization (ILO)

The International Labor Organization (ILO) was established in 1919.

The ILO aims to promote workers’ labor rights, set labor standards, and advance their standard of living.

The Adoption of the United Declaration of Human Rights

The United Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted in 1948.

The UDHR defined various human rights, and declared that all people are equally entitled to their rights. The UDHR has become the foundation of modern human rights – human rights concepts that we must all protect.

Promoting Human Rights Into the Future

human rights violations examples in history

Human rights violations and the development of human rights throughout history was introduced in this article.

Modern human rights exist because of the many activists throughout history.

We must learn from human rights incidents of the past, as well as protect and promote our human rights in the future for the generations to come.

Related post

Return Top