The phrase civil rights refers to a generalized body of personal liberties that are widely believed to be nonnegotiable. Accordingly, these rights are those that all human beings are entitled to regardless of whether they are written into law. Civil rights are primarily comprised of matters that affect a person’s ability to lead a happy, healthy life as a part of his or her society, free from discrimination, unwarranted persecution or intrusion from other people or organizations.
Generally, civil rights protect the ability to live according to a free but lawful lifestyle shaped by individual choices and expression. Identifying these rights can be difficult, because they can vary by country are complex issues with many possible implications in everyday life. Several rights, however, are so widely accepted that they are often considered universal. Free speech, the freedom to identify with a religious group and protection from discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, age, faith, sexual orientation or political preferences are common iterations of civil rights.
Acknowledging the existence of these rights is meant to protect people from persecution by their peers and to protect citizens from unreasonable government infringement on their personal lives. The right to freedom of speech is an example of how civil rights limit the intrusion of government agencies. If a group of citizens desires to hold a protest, they typically are allowed to do so nonviolently and within the confines of the law. In these cases, government agencies typically are not able to gatherings such as this, even if the protesters’ messages are inflammatory or anti-establishment.
Different countries have different ideas concerning civil rights. Some nations value certain rights more than others, and not every country possesses written, lawful descriptions of these rights and to whom they apply. There is, however, a widely accepted standard for these rights, which is expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document, which was adopted by the United Nations, proclaims that all human beings, without exception, are to be the recipients of civil rights.
Violations of civil rights are plentiful throughout history and still take place despite legislation mandating otherwise. In an effort to decrease such violations, many countries write descriptions of these rights into their laws. For example, the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution expressly describes the natural rights that must be unwaveringly protected for every citizen of the country. Many other countries have similar mandates, some recently written and some dating back to ancient civilizations.