Difference between Civil Rights and Human Rights

Difference between Civil Rights and Human Rights


Every individual has a progression of rights in life that are said to be entitled and enshrined in law. However, what entitles every person to these rights, and is there a distinction between civil rights and human rights.

What are Human Rights?

civil rights

Despite a person’s skin color, culture, race, ethics, and whichever part of the world he or she belongs to, human rights are thought of as the most principal rights he or she is entitled to. These are the rights that will protect them in any form of violation that they may encounter.

During post-World War II, human rights were officially created in order to avoid the horrors of the reoccurring regime of the Nazi.

Human rights incorporate:

  • every person has the right to life (Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR)
  • every person has the right to education
  • every person has protection from torture (Article 3 ECHR)
  • every person has the freedom of expression
  • every person has the right to a free trial

All of these rights are said to be absolute in nature and for that factual reason, it cannot be varied by whichever state in the world. 

However, there are a total of 16 so-called human rights and some of these rights are known as qualified rights – can be varied depending on certain circumstances in each country, state, or nation.

What are Civil Rights?

By virtue of being a citizen of a specific country, nation, or state, every individual is said to be entitled to have civil rights.

These rights are being placed in order to provide protection to the citizens from any form of discrimination and to finally grant them certain freedoms in that certain nation, for instance,  free speech and due process could both be described or considered belong to the civil rights.

United States’ civil rights may include:

  • every person has protection from discrimination
  • every person  has the right to free speech
  • every person has the right to undergo a due process
  • every person has the right to equal protection
  • every person has the right against self-incrimination

Therefore, civil rights are sets of rights that are decided between the governing bodies in a particular country, state, or nation together with its citizens.

Freedom of religion, the right to vote, and freedom from arbitrary arrest are some of the certain civil rights. These rights are giving protection to the freedom of every citizen to do things.

Are there any similarities between civil rights and human rights?

Definitely, YES. As mentioned above, some human rights belong to the so-called qualified rights, which only means your protection under a certain right can depend on certain factors included. 

For instance, Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights ( the right to marry) can be conditional depending on the national laws on marriage.

This can be made as the qualified human rights, other examples can be (the freedom of expression) Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights and (the freedom of thought) Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights, is set up much likely to civil rights.

Prisoners – considered as the best example of practical difference of human rights from civil rights.  Like everyone else, prisoners are entitled to fundamental rights just like Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights ( the freedom from torture).

However, despite being said, they’re stripped of some civil ( or considered as qualified) rights just like the freedom to move as well as the right to vote during elections.

Difference between Human Rights and Civil Rights

To put it simply, the reason why you have civil and human rights makes them different from one another. Simply existing as a human being entitled you to have human rights, whereas, a virtue of being a citizen of a particular country, nation, or state granted you to have civil rights.

Whichever countries across the world, human rights have always been protected by the country’s national constitution. Additionally, it is internationally being protected as well by international law.

The United National General Assembly had adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights way back in 1948. You can also take a look that in Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights also protect these interests.

On the other hand, in order to facilitate these international agreements, domestic law does exist in the UK, for instance, The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA).

The domestic law must try and give effect to the said law if ever that your human right is being breached, in a way that doesn’t breach any of your rights. If ever this is so impossible, the court may make a declaration stating of incompatibility against this law.

However, it doesn’t mean that the law can be automatically changed but it only provides a sort of signal to the lawmakers in the Parliament that this may be requiring amendment in the future to avoid any form of breaches.

Moreover, the protection of civil rights will always depend on which country, state, or nation you are located in. Civil rights are being protected by means of common law and statute in the UK, as well as widely under the same act as above, ( HRA). Thus being said, if ever the domestic court isn’t sure how to proceed with the case, they can directly reach the European Court.

In other countries, however, for instance, the USA and where a written constitution is existing, then civil rights are being dealt with under the constitution.

Furthermore, it is significant to take note that civil rights will definitely change based upon the person’s claim of his or her citizenship, for the reason that civil rights are, fundamentally, a legal agreement between the citizen and the country, state, or nation that the citizens said to live within.

When it comes to the international viewpoint, courts as well as international organizations are not much likely to intervene and take any action to enforce a certain nation’s violation of its own civil rights but are more likely responding if ever human rights are violated.

Once again, human rights should always be universal in whichever country you are living with, while civil rights will definitely vary depending on one nation, country, or state to the others.

Different nations have the right to grant or deny different civil rights, however, no national should rightfully deprive a person of his or her human right.

That being said, civil rights struggle would only occur or happen at local or national levels of a certain county but it would not go to the international level. The international stage is putting much focus on every violation of human rights.

Although some of these rights, for instance, having the right to education, undoubtedly overlap with human rights, in most conversations it’s still treated as civil rights. Usually, the mere reason that is being used to justify a right to equal education or other human rights is grounded in equal protection or on a civil right of due process.

If you believe that someone you know or you have been the victim of a violation of either human or civil rights, don’t ever be afraid to contact an attorney to discuss your case. Definitely, your attorney will answer all your inquiries and further explain to you which between the bodies of law are being violated.


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