Human Rights

Find information and resources for research and interdisciplinary studies on human rights—the rights to which all people are entitled, regardless of nation, culture, race, gender, age, or social position.

The first formal international agreement on what should constitute human rights appeared in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. Former U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt served as the first U.S. delegate to the United Nations (UN). Her advocacy of human rights-based ethics and her key role in drafting the humanitarian guidelines of the UDHR continue to impact human rights protections and social justice movements today.

The UDHR arose as part of the post-conflict international response to atrocities committed during World War II (1939–1945), in which the German Nazi Party killed more than 11 million people, including 6 million Jewish people. The death, humiliation, torture, and other assaults on human dignity incurred during the armed conflict prompted the need for an international body to create guidelines to prevent such violations of human dignity from happening again.

Though different cultures, policymakers, and government officials may disagree on which standards and practices should constitute global human rights, the UDHR and other documentation on human rights issues generally specify that human rights should include, at a minimum, the right to life; freedom from slavery and torture; certain legal rights to equality and justice under the law (without discrimination based on gender, disability, religion, race, ethnicity, or other factors); and freedom to express political, religious, and other ideas without fear of persecution. While the UDHR is not legally binding, and member countries remain divided over how implementing UDHR principles can be accomplished without infringing upon national sovereignty, the language and cross-cultural principles of the UDHR have inspired international human rights laws and treaties and informed research, studies, and action on gender-based rights, disability rights, and other rights championed by numerous social movements for social justice.

National, regional, and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have started to demand accountability for human rights abuses and monitoring mechanisms that exist around the world, including various national and international tribunals set up to prosecute war crimes and genocide. United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a group of advocates within the United Nations committed to promoting and protecting human rights worldwide. Individuals appointed as Special Rapporteurs report on the many mandates of the UNHRC. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are two well-known human rights organizations that defend human rights around the world. The International Criminal Court heard cases based on human rights violations, including war crimes.

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Human Rights Resources

Gale provides resources that support an interdisciplinary approach to the research requirements for human rights studies with journals, articles, and other materials from our collections of primary sources and eBooks.

Primary Source Archives

Gale Primary Sources contains full-text archives and collections that provide firsthand content for human rights research, including historical documents, peer-reviewed scholarly journals, periodical articles, news articles, and other publications that examine and analyze human rights studies as well as ephemera and other non-published materials that provide a multidisciplinary approach to both high school and academic research requirements and promote a deeper understanding of the issues.

Gale eBooks

Gale's eBook collection offers a variety of publications online to support human rights research and studies. Users can add Gale eBooks to a customized collection and cross-search to pinpoint relevant content. Workflow tools help users easily share, save, and download content.

  • Political Science

    Political Science

    Britannica Digital Learning   |   2016  |   ISBN-13: 9781622755479

    This book traces the development of political science from ancient influences such as Plato and Aristotle to the perspectives of modern political shapers, such as Robert A. Dahl. It covers changes to the field in both thought and practice due to the rise and fall of political regimes, armed conflict and world wars, human migration, colonialism, climate change, and social media. The book also includes methodological examinations of international law and international relations, systems of government, constitutions, domestic policy, public opinion, social movements, and administration. The book ends with brief biographies of important people in the field of political science and specifies their various contributions.

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  • A World Divided: The Global Struggle for Human Rights in the Age of Nation-States

    A World Divided: The Global Struggle for Human Rights in the Age of Nation-States

    Princeton University Press   |   2019  |   ISBN-13: 9780691185552

    This publication provides a global history of human rights in a world of nation-states that grant rights to some while denying them to others based on various aspects of identity. Through vivid histories drawn from every continent, it describes how since the eighteenth century, nationalists have fought to grant human rights to some people while excluding others through forced assimilation, ethnic cleansing, or genocide. From Greek rebels, American settlers, and Brazilian abolitionists in the nineteenth century to anticolonial Africans and Zionists in the twentieth, nationalists have confronted a crucial question: who has the right to have rights? A World Divided: The Global Struggle for Human Rights in the Age of Nation-States tells their stories and shows that rights are dynamic. Originally intended exclusively for propertied white men, rights were quickly demanded by women, Native American and Indigenous peoples, and enslaved Black people. This title includes details to identify the origins of many of today's crises, from the 65 million refugees and migrants fleeing conflict worldwide to the growth of right-wing nationalism, and argues that only advancing human rights will move us beyond the divide.

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