Three generations of human rights

The division of human rights into three generations was initially proposed in 1979 by the Czech jurist Karel Vasak at the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg. He used the term at least as early as November 1977.[1] Vasak's theories have primarily taken root in European law.

His divisions follow the three watchwords of the French Revolution: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. The three generations are reflected in some of the rubrics of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.[citation needed] The Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes rights that are thought of as second generation as well as first generation ones, but it does not make the distinction in itself (the rights listed are not in specific order).

First-generation human rights

First-generation human rights, sometimes called "blue" rights, deal essentially with liberty and participation in political life. They are fundamentally civil and political in nature: They serve negatively to protect the individual from excesses of the state. First-generation rights include, among other things, the right to life, equality before the law, freedom of speech, the right to a fair trial, freedom of religion, and voting rights. They were pioneered by the United States Bill of Rights and in France by the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in the 18th century, although some of these rights and the right to due process date back to the Magna Carta of 1215 and the Rights of Englishmen, which were expressed in the English Bill of Rights in 1689.

They were enshrined at the global level and given status in international law first by Articles 3 to 21 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and later in the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In Europe, they were enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights in 1953.