What are human rights?
Human rights is about the recognition and respect for human dignity through the protection, promotion and preservation of rights that are inherent to all human beings regardless of one’s race, culture, ethnic or social origin, colour, place of origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, birth, primary language, economic or social or health status, disability, age, religion, conscience, marital status or pregnancy or any other status. Human Rights are integral in creating a just society built on democratic principles of dignity, equality and freedom.
Human rights are universal and therefore recognised regardless of economic, cultural or political systems. These rights are interdependent and indivisible and no one human right is less important than another. These rights, as expressed in the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji as well as internationally recognised human rights treaties and conventions, are guaranteed by law obligating governments, institutions and individuals to protect and promote fundamental human rights and freedoms of all in both public and private spheres of life.
The State is legally obligated to take positive steps in facilitating the enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedoms. This is why the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji provides for the establishment of a national human rights institution. It is precisely the recognition that human rights would be incomplete without the principles of equality and non-discrimination that the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji now provides for the establishment of not just a national human rights commission but a Human Rights and an Anti-Discrimination Commission.
Human rights, however, is not the sole responsibility of the State or the national human rights institution alone. Human rights are the collective responsibility of the State, public and private institutions, civil society organisations, international community and individuals.