Second Generation Rights, Second Generation Human RightsJune 28, 2021
In addition to civil and political rights, the Universal Declaration also contained a number of economic, social and cultural rights. These rights are known as “second-generation rights” because no such right was enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence of 1776 or the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789.
Although the 18th century thinker Thomas Paine, an ardent defender of natural rights, also listed social conditions related to education, welfare, and work in his book Rights of Man, published in 1792, and the French Declaration of 1793 endorsed the right to education. However, these rights did not comply with traditional natural law theories, and they were not widely accepted as basic moral and constitutional rights until the twentieth century. Although the right to education has been included in the constitutions for a very long time, it has remained only as a law article and the necessary institutional structures have not been established for the use of this right. The same is true for so-called welfare rights, which have just been enacted.
The “right to work” can be given as an example of second generation rights. It is not clear whether article 23 of the Universal Declaration refers to a single right when it says “the right to work,” or whether it encompasses multiple rights, a series of different rights to work. But later human rights documents, starting with the European Social Charter of 1961, separated the “right to work” from itself “the right to just and decent working conditions”. The most classical definition of this is found in article 6 of the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966: “States party to the Convention recognize the right to work, which includes the opportunity for individuals to maintain their own life by working in jobs freely chosen or accepted. Thus, what constitutes the essence of this right is the ability of each individual to demand from his state the chance to live by working and to choose freely between the jobs in which to work. This right imposes a duty on states to take the necessary steps to give individuals this opportunity”. The underlying assumption is that every person should have this opportunity for their well-being and only the state has the power to fulfill this basic human need (Wellman 1999, p. 21).
Compiled by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Atatürk University Department of Sociology Lecture Notes for Grade 1 “Introduction to Philosophy” and Grade 3 “History of Contemporary Philosophy” (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook