Any of these sound familiar?

“It’s my right, I can do what I want…” 

“Don’t tell me I can’t do that – that’s against my rights!” 

“…in something which can only be described as a fundamental violation of human rights…” 

Human rights are everywhere. They are the currency in the market in which we operate and a means to owning a free life in the 21st century. They are universal. They are guaranteed. They are unchanging. But do you know where these rights come from? Do you know how many you have? Do you know what they are?

Following centuries of ideological warfare and the repeated failure to protect and liberate humanity, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was formed and agreed upon in 1948 by the United Nations in Paris. For the first time human rights were now in the realm of international law with a (near) global commitment to their implementation. Officially, there are 30 fundamental human rights that the United Nations agreed on.

It may come as a surprise, but there is everything from the right that everyone is born free and equal to a right to a fair trial, the right to a nationality, the right to own a property and the right to freedom of religion. Take a look here – there may be a lot more than you realise. I’ll admit that I didn’t know how many of them there were and what they actually said.

To me, the most important point of all was not actually one of the articles, but a statement in the Preamble which can be found at the top of the link. In there it reads:

“the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women”.

Faith has been reaffirmed in the dignity and worth of the human person.

The very rights that humanity has fought and died to create and preserve are rooted in the belief that every human being has equal worth and dignity. Every life is precious and every life has meaning and beauty. There would be no human rights without this principle. There would be no foundation for them to be built upon.

The reason we have dignity and worth comes from the fact that we have been made in image of God, crowned with his glory and honour, inherently valuable and full of worth.

We have been created by God to be like him; to be life giving, to be loving, to be fair, just and honourable. All of these are characteristics of God, and all of these are inherent values which we hold as human beings. Our human rights are founded on the belief that we are of worth and dignity as we are made in the image of God.

Next time you hear something about human rights, whether a violation, a breach, a denial or an expression of them, perhaps stop and think about humanity being made in the image of God, and try and work out for yourself where the particular right in question has come from. Why not ask yourself this: ““does this ‘right’ reinforce that every human being is has equal worth and dignity”. If not – is it really a human right?

We all have dignity. We all have value. We have all been made in the image of God.

This is our human right.