Theme 1 : Rights and Responsibilities
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Rights and Responsibilities for all
- Human Rights are written in documents, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and include rights, such as; "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person". They generally work on individual's conscience and respect.
- Human Rights are a universal moral principle, but in many countries, they are not law.
- In countries where Human Rights are law, they can be protected by the courts and legal service, which is less available to those living in countries where Human Rights are NOT law.
- With rights come responsibilities, for example, everyone has the right to drive, but the responsibility to keep other road users safe.
- Rights cannot be seperated from responsibilities.
- Civil and political rights include the guarentee of equality and the right to vote.
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Freedom to... and freedom from...
- People have freedom to (e.g. vote, a private home life) and freedoms from(e.g. discrimination, poverty).
- If people do not have freedom from illness or poverty, they will find it difficult to enjoy freedom to do and acheive things.
- Some of our freedoms are thanks to groups of people fighting for them, e.g. Martin Luther King.
- Although UK law protects the Freedom to worship, it does not mean everybody is tolerant of such a freedom and intolerance can lead to racism.
- The UK also has laws protecting people from discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, sexuality and religion.
- This has led to the equal pay act and civil partnerships.
- All EU citizens have the Freedom of Movement, which means they can move to and work in another EU country.
- Minimum ages are set to many laws (e.g. the right to vote and age of consent) to keep individuals and consequently, society safe.
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- Multiple identities means that we all have many different roles within society (e.g. brother, sister, student, worker, Christian, Muslim).
- Racial tensions can arise when people are ignorant of other people's beliefs and cultures.
- Push factors can be used to describe reasons why migrants are 'pushed' out of their own countries for persecution or perhaps poverty reasons and flee to the Uk (e.g. Asylum seekers).
- Pull factors can be used to describe why migrants are attracted to the UK, like better prospects or pay and often include Migrant Workers.
- When Industries in the Uk boomed, eg the steel industry, it bought many people from abroad looking for employment, with them they brought their cultures and religions, which now contribute to Multi-culturism in the UK.
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A pick-and-mix society
- People born in the UK by British parents would be counted as British.
- Now those who have moved to Britain or were born in Britain by foreign parents, can take a test to become British Citizens.
- They can celebrate becoming British Citizens in a citizenship ceremony where they swear allegiance to the Queen, sing the National anthem and pledge to respect the UK's rights and responsibilities.
- In less integrated areas of the UK, people can feel threatened by new arrivals.
- Local communities are constantly changing with people moving in and out of the area.
- Life expectancy can also change from place to place depending on different factors, such as diet and lifestyle.
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- Credit cards mean you can borrow money but you have to pay interest on the money you are borrowing and this interest often increases every month. However for big purchases they can provide insurance for compensation.
- A hire purchase can have a lower interest rate that credit cards but relies on paying a fixed amount over a fixed length of time.
- Debit cards pay out the money you have put in an account, which means you cannot over-spend.
- It is illegal to sell unsatisfactory goods or good that do not do as the manufactorer said they would.
- If you purchase goods that you later find to be faulty, if they havent been used, you can either exchange or ask for a refund
- If you bought good knowing they were faulty or if you damaged goods you could not return them later.
- Unsafe goods should not be sold and if done so, the seller may face prosecution.
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Working it out
- Trade unions work to create employment laws for equality.
- When unemployment levels rise, union memberships fall as it is generally deemed 'pointless' for short term workers.
- Individual workers are key in many firms so they work to match applicants' specification (skills and qualifications) with each job description.
- Laws protect many workers (e.g. Sex Discrimination Act 1975).
- Contract of employment contain a worker's entitlements to leave and holidays but also what is expected of them.
- Unsuitable conduct can lead to a verbal warning, followed by a written warning if the behaviour continues and then even dismissal.
- If behaviour is so bad, it can cause instant dismissal.
- If a company cannot afford to keep all of their workers, it can make some workers redundant.
- Trends show employees no longer want a 'job for life' but rather expect to change roles.
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The United Nations
- To support the Universal Declaration, a Humans Rights Council was set up to help places where Human Rights are denied but is criticised because they generally take Africa and Asia more seriously than Human Rights.
- A commisioner seeks publicity to put pressure on World Leaders who abuse Human Rights.
- The UN aims to eliminate many things (e.g. Racial Discrimination, Genocide and torture and extreme poverty and hunger) thay also aim to support things such as; disabled people and sufferers of diseases, like malaria.
- The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was set up in 1990 and criticised the UK on many things. (E.g. The numbers of Young offenders in custody, the low age of Criminal Responsibility and high exclusion rates in schools).
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- The European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) aims to provide rights for those who live in European States. (E.g. Right to life, right to marry, prohibition of torture and of inhuman and degrading treatment).
- The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is part of the Council of Europe, if UK citizen believes their rights have been breached, they can take a case to a UK court but if they lose, they can apply to the ECtHR.
- The 'McLibel two' was a court case where two people who were accused of libel by McDonalds by producing Leaflets that wrote of problems with their food and lost in a UK court. They went on to the ECtHR who said they had been denied the Right to a free trial and were awarded compensation.
- The European Court of Justice (ECJ) rules EU law and can overrule UK law and they generally deal with legal questions raised by National courts.
- ECtHR deals with more 'individual' cases than ECJ but ECJ decisions do affect the lives and rights of many people.
- Both ECJ and ECtHR overrule National Courts.
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1998 Human Rights Act
- The Human Rights Act (HRA) has made rights from HCHR enforcable in UK courts, making it quicker and easier to use.
- If UK law conflicts with ECHR, senior judges have to consider making a 'declaration of incompatibility' and the Government must decide whether or not to amend UK law.
- HRA also looks at a person's motives for commiting the crime they did.
- HRA is critcised by newspapers sometimes for giving rights to criminals.
- Local Citizens Advice Bureaus give lots of information on Human Rights.
- All UK citizens can apporach the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) if they believe they are being denied their Human Rights.
- The UN established the Internation Criminal Court (ICC) to deal with genocide, crime against humanity and war crimes.
- By 2008, USA, Russia, China and India still had not joined.
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If we don't live up to our responsibilities....
- Rights and Responsibillities are a two-sided coin, you cannot have one without the other.
- One person excersising a right may impose a responsibility on another person and both need to agree to this.
- Rights are never absolute or unlimited.
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A justification for identity-checking, surveilance
- In the UK, suspected terrorists can be held in detention without being charged for 28 days. The government want to increase this to 42 days but there is much opposition. In Canada, they can only hold suspects for 1 day and in Ireland it is only 7 days.
- Britain is known as a Surveillance society, with technology meaning everything from movement to card transactions can be recorded.
- The government is setting up a call, text and email monitering scheme at a cost of £12 billion in order to keep us 'safe'.
- UK identity cards are meant to combat the threat of terrorism and crime.
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Does religion divide or unite society?
- Some religions protest in order to protect their rights.
- Human Righs Groups have campaigned against Female circumcision which is part of some faiths but goes against the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 which applies to all UK girls, even if taken abroad for the procedure.
- Tolerance is the avoidance of discrimination between groups, based on religion or belief.
- Religions do unite on some projects in the UK but often this does not include ALL religions.
- Religion can cause deep divisions in society.
- UK law makes it illegal to 'stir-up' hatred against a person because of their religion.
- Some religious followers in the UK seem reluctant to recognise the right to live and prcatise a religion in the UK means that they must also accept and tolerate UK laws and values.
- Prince Charles wants to be the 'Defender of Faith' if he is crowned, to protect the UK from secularism (a non-religious society).
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What happens if different 'rights' conflict?
- There is sometimes confliction between rights, such as Freedom of expression vs. privacy.
- All EU citizens can work in other EU countries which, it is argued, undermines the UK job market but EU workers often do jobs that UK workers do not want to do.
- However UK workers can move to other EU countries, just as other EU citizens can move to the UK.
- The right to Freedom of expression in the UK must be understood alongside the right to privacy.
- UK citizens have every right to fear terrorist activity which can threaten public safety but that does not allow us to deny rights to others or place them in a position of danger.
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