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A HISTORY OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Key human rights milestones throughout history


THE CYRUS CYLINDER – c539-530BC
Cyrus II, King of Persia, began his reign by decreeing reforms
on this clay cylinder. Most notably, he declared that exiled
slaves could return to their homelands and implies that there
will be religious freedom throughout the Persian Empire

Image:
Front of the
Cyrus Cylinder
Creative Commons - Prioryman

Source: The British Museum


THE MAGNA CARTA - 1215
This Great Charter provided a new
framework for the relationship
between the King and his subjects. It
established for the first time that
everybody, including the king, was
subject to the law. Most famously, it
gave all ‘free men’ the right to justice
and a fair trial.

Image: King John of England signing Magna Carta on June 15, 1215, at Runnymede

Source: The British Library


THE PETITION OF RIGHT - 1628
This petition was sent by the
English Parliament to King
Charles I. It included the
demands that the King could
not tax the people without the
Parliament’s consent nor
imprison people without
cause.
Image: Portrait of King Charles I in his robes
of state
(copy of original by Anthony van Dyck)

Source: Britannica
THE BILL OF RIGHTS - 1689
This English document set out
political and civil rights, including
the freedom to elect Members of
Parliament, the protection of free
speech in Parliament and that the
king or queen could not interfere
with the law.
Image: The English Bill of
Rights 1689.
National Archives of the United Kingdom

Source: British Library


THE DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF
MAN AND OF THE CITIZEN - 1789
This French Declaration set out the
universal and inalienable rights of
men/citizens (not women
unfortunately!) It stated that all are
born equal and free, all can participate
in civil and political life, can think and
speak freely, be presumed innocent
until proven guilty and that all have the
right to own private property.

Image: The Rights of Man and of the Citizen

Source: Britannica
THE U.S. BILL OF RIGHTS – 1789
This is made up of the
first ten amendments to
the U.S. Constitution.
These include the
freedoms of speech,
press and assembly, the
right to a fair trial and
freedom from
unreasonable search and
seizure. Image: Bill of Rights 1789
National Archives and Records Administration

Source – Bill of Rights Institute


THE GENEVA CONVENTIONS – 1864-1977
These treaties focused on
alleviating the effects of war
on soldiers and civilians. The
conventions state the neutral
status of the sick and
wounded, allow the provision
of protection and relief for the
wounded and establish the
Image: German Red Cross nurses humane treatment of
during WWI in 1915 attending to
prisoners of war.
wounded soldiers
Unknown photographer. German Red Cross

Source: Britannica
WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE - 1893
After years of effort by
suffrage campaigners led by
Kate Sheppard, women won
the right to vote in September
1893. New Zealand became
the first independent country
where women could vote in
parliamentary elections.
Image: Kate Sheppard
Photo from 1905, photographer unknown

Source: NZ History
THE UNITED NATIONS - 1945
The United Nations was
established following the
devastation of lives and
property in World Wars One
and Two.

“We the peoples of the United


Nations are determined to save
succeeding generations from
the scourge of war, which
twice in our lifetime has
brought untold sorrow to
mankind.” Image: Flag of the United Nations

Source: The United Nations


THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF
HUMAN RIGHTS - 1948
The Universal Declaration of Human
Rights (UDHR) is part of the
International Bill of Human Rights. The
thirty articles cover the rights of the
individual such as the freedom from
slavery; political and civil rights such as
the freedoms of speech and
association; and economic, social and
cultural rights such as the right to
education and adequate housing.

Image: Plaque of the UDHR in In 1948 New Zealand lobbied to ensure


front of the Joukyou Gimin “freedom from want” was alongside
Memorial Museum, Japan rights such as freedom of speech and
Owner - HappyBD58. Licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0
via Wikimedia Commons freedom from torture.

Source: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights


AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL - 1961
In 1961, British lawyer Peter
Benenson was outraged when two
Portuguese students were jailed
just for raising a toast to freedom.
He wrote an article and launched a
campaign that provoked an
incredible response across the
world.

Benenson’s call to action sparked


the idea that people everywhere
can unite in solidarity for justice
and freedom. Amnesty International Image: Amnesty International logo
was founded and is now the world’s
largest human rights organisation.

Source: Amnesty International


THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL
AND POLITICAL RIGHTS – 1976
This covenant is also
part of the International
Bill of Rights. It covers
civil and political rights
such as the right to life
and liberty, political
participation and non-
discrimination.
New Zealand has many
Image: Torture Reconstruction.
Amnesty International. these rights written into
its Bill of Rights.

Source: The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights


THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC,
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS - 1966
This covenant is part of the
International Bill of Rights, along
with its equivalent on civil and
political rights and the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.

It covers economic, social and


cultural rights such as the right to
work for fair wages, holiday and
leisure time, the protection of the
family and the right to adequate
food, housing and clothing.

New Zealand ratified the Image: Roma children at school


International Covenant on Amnesty International
Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (ICESCR) in 1978.

Source: Economic Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights


NEW ZEALAND BILL OF RIGHTS ACT - 1990
The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act
(1990) sets out the rights and
freedoms of anyone subject to NZ
law. It focuses on civil and political
rights, such as freedom from
torture, the right to vote, freedom of
movement and the right to a fair
trial.

However, economic, social and


cultural rights such as access to
healthcare and the right to
adequate housing are not fully
Image: The New Zealand Coat of Arms protected in this.

Source: New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990


YOUNG NEW ZEALANDERS - TODAY
In classrooms and beyond
across New Zealand, young
people like you are learning
about their human rights and
the rights of others, why
these rights must be
defended and protected, and
they are also taking action to
promote human rights for all!

Images: New Zealand teenagers


taking action together for human
rights in 2015
Amnesty International
REFERENCES
• The British Museum. (n.d.) The British Museum. Cyrus Cylinder. Retrieved from
http://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/news_and_press/statements/cyrus_cylinder.aspx
• Prioryman. (26 May 2012). Cyrus Cylinder Front. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cyrus_Cylinder_front.jpg
• The British Library. (n.d.) The Magna Carta. Retrieved from http://www.bl.uk/magna-carta/articles/magna-carta-an-introduction
• Unknown. (1800s). King John of England signing Magna Carta on June 15, 1215, at Runnymede. Coloured Wood Engraving.
Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John,_Magna_Carta.jpg
• Britannica. (n.d.) The Petition of Right (1628). Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/topic/Petition-of-Right-British-history
• Follower of Anthony van Dyke. (1636). Portrait of King Charles I in his robes of state. Retrieved from
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:King_Charles_I_after_original_by_van_Dyck.jpg
• The British Library. (n.d.) Taking Liberties: Bill of Rights. Retrieved from
http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/takingliberties/staritems/510billofrights.html
• National Archives of the United Kingdom. (December 1689). Image: The English Bill of Rights 1689. Retrieved from
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:English_Bill_of_Rights_of_1689.jpg
• Britannica. (n.d) Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/topic/Declaration-
of-the-Rights-of-Man-and-of-the-Citizen
• Bibliotheque nationale de France. (n.d.) Les Droits de l’Home et du Citoyen. Retrieved from http://libriaurei.net/2012/09/26/the-
declaration-of-the-rights-of-man-and-the-citizen/
• Bill of Rights Institute. (n.d.) Bill of Rights of the United States of America (1791). Retrieved from
http://www.billofrightsinstitute.org/founding-documents/bill-of-rights/
• James Madison, National Archives. (n.d.) United States Bill of Rights. Retrieved from
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Bill_of_Rights
• Britannica. (n.d.) The Geneva Conventions. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/event/Geneva-Conventions
• Red Cross. (1915). German Red Cross nurses during WWI in 1915, attending to wounded soldiers. Retrieved from
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:German_Red_Cross_nurses_during_WWI_in_1915_attending_to_wounde
d_soldiers.jpeg
• NZ History. (n.d.) Women and the vote. Retrieved from http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/politics/womens-suffrage
• Unknown. (1905). Kate Sheppard. Retrieved from
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/60/Kate_Sheppard.jpg
• The United Nations. (n.d.) The United Nations. Retrieved from www.un.org
• The United Nations. (n.d.) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved from
http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html
• HappyBD58, Wikimedia Commons. (11 May 2009). Close-up view of the plaque of the UDHR (in both English and
Japanese) in front of the Joukyou Gimin Memorial Museum. Retrieved from
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Plaque_of_the_UDHR_in_front_of_the_Joukyou_Gimin_Memorial_Museu
m.JPG
• Amnesty International. (n.d.) Who We Are. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org/en/who-we-are/
• United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. (n.d.)The International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, 1976. Retrieved from http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx
• Amnesty International. (1 April 2015). Torture Reconstruction. ADAM ID: 210116
• United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. (n.d.) Economic Covenant on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights, 1976. Sourced from: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CESCR.aspx
• Amnesty International. (22 April 2015). Roma children at school. ADAM ID 209929
• New Zealand Legislation. (n.d.). New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. Retrieved from:
http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1990/0109/latest/DLM224792.html
• Amnesty International. (June 2015). Auckland secondary students plan for Freedom Challenge 2015.
• Amnesty International. (August 2015). Gracy and Nelson College for Girls writing postcards to Double the Quota.