Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that protect every person simply because they are human. Watch the short film above, Our Human Rights Act explained in 2 minutes, to find out about your human rights, or click on the links below for more information.

What are human rights?

Human rights are not privileges to be earned or gifts that governments can give or take away at will, they are part of what is means to be human. However, our law, the Human Rights Act, recognises that some rights can be restricted, including to protect people and balance the rights of others.  Although human rights are based on shared values such as fairness, respect, equality and dignity, human rights are much more than values. Human rights set down in law the rule book for governments on how people should be treated and how power should be exercised.

Where do human rights come from?

The world community came together after the horrors of World War II to say never again should a government decide who matters and who does not. This is why human rights are a set of minimum standards that protect everyone, no matter what. Our law, the Human Rights Act, covers any person here in the UK, irrespective of factors like age, nationality, behaviour, gender, etc. (Laws which exclude certain people on the basis of such factors are not human rights protections).

What does the Human Rights Act do?

The Human Rights Act 1998 makes the international promise of universal human rights real here at home by making 16 of the rights we helped write in the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 part of our law and the way we do things in the UK.

The Human Rights Act puts legal duties on public authorities (national and local) to respect human rights in their decisions and actions. This helps public officials deliver better services, and empowers every person ensure they are treated fairly, and if necessary to hold officials to account.

Five things everyone should know about human rights

Human rights protect everyone, providing a safety net for us all. They are universal minimum standards we agreed to after World War II below which no-one should fall.

Human rights are about the relationship between people and those in power. The law means that human rights should be part and parcel of the way government and services do their job, helping us all to live with equal dignity and respect.

Our Human Rights Act provides important protections for people, giving legal force to 16 fundamental rights and freedoms and duties to uphold them.

Most of the rights in our Human Rights Act can be restricted but this can only be for specific reasons, such as to protect others, and restrictions need to follow rules; importantly they must be proportionate. Although some of our human rights can be restricted, they can never be taken away.

Human rights are the cornerstone of a healthy democracy, ensuring the government plays fair. Human rights are an important part of our constitution and help strengthen our democracy by giving people a voice.

Do you #KnowYourHumanRights?

Use our interactive tool to find more about human rights in the context of mental health and mental capacity.