Third Generation Rights, Third Generation Human Rights

Third Generation Rights, Third Generation Human Rights

June 28, 2021 Off By Felso

Today, third generation rights are encountered in international law. These new human rights are often referred to as “solidarity rights”.

There is no doubt that some new rights such as the right to development, the right to peace, and the right to live in a clean environment have entered the documents; but there is great uncertainty about whether they have a common feature or not, and if so, how they differ from first and second generation rights.

These new human rights are often referred to as “solidarity rights”. Solidarity takes place within a group through mutual support or commitment, especially between individuals with strong shared interest, sympathy and desire.


Solidarity falls under the definition of third generation rights in two ways: First, these rights are social group rights rather than individual rights. These rights include the right of all humanity to have peace and a healthy environment, and the right of every people to determine their own future and their own culture. Secondly, these rights place the blame on all humanity. These rights demand worldwide action, and the fulfillment of the duties imposed by these rights primarily falls on international institutions.

An example of these rights is the right of peoples to exist. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Every people has the right to exist.” says. This is the first right to peoples’ rights that was also ratified in the African Convention on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Although the UN refers to these documents on the prevention of crimes of genocide, none of these declarations have been adopted by the UN. This may be the reason why these documents do not clearly reveal the content of “peoples’ rights” (Wellman 1999, pp. 29-30).

Although the separation of rights as first, second and third generation rights seems to give a priority order, it is not possible to say that civil and political rights come before economic, social and cultural rights by separating first and second generation rights in this way, based on the Universal Declaration.

The Universal Declaration includes first generation rights as well as second generation rights. It can be said that there is a tendency to expand fundamental rights from civil and political rights to economic, social and cultural rights, and secondary group rights are increasingly included in international declarations, especially in conventions. However, to say that neither this situation nor the idea of ​​civil and political rights goes back to an earlier period does not seem sufficient to distinguish between these two generations.

The rights that are considered to take precedence, with reference to natural rights, are rather the right to life—and related immunities—freedoms and the right to property. These are rights that may overlap with civil and political rights, but they are not overlapping rights. Especially a very important part of political rights do not coincide with the rights called natural rights.

As for the so-called “third generation rights” rights, as Wellman elaborates in his book, which we frequently quoted above, group rights are incompatible with the idea of ​​human rights.

While human rights are the rights that a person has just because he is a human, the bearers of the “solidarity rights” called third generation rights are not individuals but groups. This situation has led some thinkers to think that third generation rights should not be counted among human rights; For example, according to Wellman, the rights of solidarity do not comply with the principle of universality and equality of human rights.

For this reason, the inability to grant any moral rights to peoples has led to the idea that peoples cannot be subjects of rights like individuals.

In our opinion, considering that the bearers or subjects of the demands for “people’s rights” are “groups” and the bearers of human rights are “individuals” and that people have human rights simply because they are human, third generation rights should be evaluated separately from them despite their relevance to human rights. It is clear that they constitute a category of rights.

From what has been said it should not be concluded that such rights do not exist or that they are unimportant. It is undeniable that the demands for such rights have increased with the influence of today’s political and economic conditions, and sometimes the protection of fundamental rights becomes more difficult without these rights being protected and secured. But this does not necessitate us to overlook the difference between them and human rights, whose subjects or carriers are different and that human beings have by being human alone.

While the bearer (subject) of human rights or fundamental rights is the person, the bearer of third generation rights consisting of solidarity rights is mostly groups, not individuals.

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 Teaching