What to do with individual duties? : a duty-based approach towards the effective protection of human rights

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Horvath, Dora
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The aim of the thesis is to draw attention to the re-conceptualisation of human rights, and to reveal that the traditional concept of human rights is inadequate. In order for human rights to provide effective protection, private individuals and bodies should be required by law to respect human rights. It is contended that the importance of individual duties within the discourse on human rights is increasing and often-neglected individual duties should be accorded an enhanced status in order to ensure a more complete protection of human dignity. Individuals should play a larger role in the promotion and protection of human rights, although this is only possible if individuals are regarded both as rightsholders and as duty-bearers. Without related duties, human rights may well become empty notions, providing no real protection for human dignity. It is suggested that a balance between rights and duties should be struck without compromising or detracting from the existing level of universal human rights protection. The hypothesis is supported from three aspects – the historical, the legal and moral justification – to persuade the reader of the importance of individual duties, or at least to demonstrate that the notion of individual duty is not contrary to the notion of human rights but rather an integral part of it.
Second semester University: University of Helsinki
dignity, human rights, individual responsibility, responsibility