Hot Topics: Human rights

This Hot Topics gives an overview of human rights law from its origins and sources, through to the development of modern human rights law. It discusses the domestic operation of human rights law and looks at the rights-based approaches, with case studies on housing and health in Australia.

About the author

This issue of Hot Topics has been written by Jane Stratton. Jane is the Director of the Think +DO Tank, a community development agency that also develops public art projects. Before beginning the Think + DO Tank, Jane was a lawyer; a policy worker and advocate. She taught human rights at the postgraduate level at the University of New South Wales. She is interested to incorporate rights-based approaches in her work and to increase popular understanding of human rights.

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Chapter one

Origins and sources

The origins of human rights law can be traced back hundreds of years through developments in the legal history of many Western countries. These developments progressively recognised that human rights are not created or granted, but are grounded in the basic dignity and equality of each person.

Chapter two

International human rights law

International law and human rights - human rights in customary international law - human rights in UN declarations - other international human rights treaties - regional human rights frameworks - state obligation in international human rights law.

Chapter three

Enforcing international human rights

Overview of enforcement - UNHRC special procedures - reporting violations - making a complaint - international crimes - case studies of complaints.

Chapter four

Human rights in Australia

Effect of treaties - treaty making process - implementing treaties in Australian law - formal human rights protection - human rights in Australian courts - human rights in administration and policy development - human rights in state and territory law.

Chapter five

Human rights standards in Australia

Rights-based approach - state obligations - performance indicators.


Hot Topics 85: Human rights. Hot Topics is intended as an introductory guide only and should not be interpreted as legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information, the Legal Information Access Centre does not assume responsibility for any errors or omissions.

© Library Council of New South Wales 2013. Copyright in Hot Topics is owned by the Library Council of New South Wales. Material contained herein may be copied for the non-commercial purpose of study or research, subject to the provisions of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).