Civil and political rights
Civil and political rights
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Civil and political rights are a class of rights and freedoms that protect individuals from unwarranted action by government and private organizations and individuals and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.
Civil rights include the ensuring of peoples' physical integrity and safety; protection from discrimination on grounds such as physical or mental disability, gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, national origin, age, and individual rights such as the freedoms of thought and conscience, speech and expression, religion, the press, and movement.
Political rights include natural justice (procedural fairness) in law, such as the rights of the accused, including the right to a fair trial; due process; the right to seek redress or a legal remedy; and rights of participation in civil society and politics such as freedom of association, the right to assemble, the right to petition, and the right to vote.
Civil and political rights comprise the first portion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (with economic, social and cultural rights comprising the second portion). The theory of three generations of human rights considers this group of rights to be "first-generation rights", and the theory of negative and positive rights considers them to be generally negative rights.
 Guarantees of rights
Civil and political rights were among the first to be recognized and codified. In many countries, they are constitutional rights and are included in a bill of rights or similar document. They are also defined in international human rights instruments, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Civil and political rights need not be codified to be protected, although most democracies worldwide do have formal written guarantees of civil and political rights. Civil rights are often considered to be natural rights. Thomas Jefferson wrote in his 1774 A Summary View of the Rights of British America that "a free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate."
Custom also plays a role. Implied or unenumerated rights are rights that courts may find to exist even though not expressly guaranteed by written law or custom; one example is the right to privacy in the United States.
The question of who civil and political rights apply to is a subject of controversy. In many countries, citizens have greater protections against infringement of rights than non-citizens; at the same time, civil and political rights are considered to be universal rights that apply to all persons.
 Civil rights movement
The civil rights movement was a worldwide political movement for equality before the law occurring between approximately 1950 and 1980. It was accompanied by much civil unrest and popular rebellion. While civil rights movements over the last 60 years have resulted in an extension of civil and political rights, the process was long and tenuous in many countries, and most of these movements did not achieve or fully achieve their objectives. In its later years, the civil rights movement took a sharp turn to the radical left in many cases.
 Problems and analysis
Questions about civil and political rights have frequently emerged. For example, to what extent should the government intervene to protect individuals from infringement on their rights by other individuals, or from corporations — e.g., in what way should employment discrimination in the private sector be dealt with?
Political theory deals with civil and political rights. Robert Nozick and John Rawls expressed competing visions in Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia and Rawls' A Theory of Justice. Other influential authors in the area include Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld and Jean Edward Smith.
 See also
 External links
- "Civil Rights" article by Andrew Altman in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Global Freedom Struggle ~ an online multimedia encyclopedia presented by the King Institute at Stanford University, includes information on over 1000 civil rights movement figures, events and organizations
- "CivilRightsTravel.com" ~ a visitors guide to key sites from the civil rights movement