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Sociology   >   Human Rights and State Crimes


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Human Rights and State Crimes

In this course, Dr Hamourtziadou (Birmingham City University) explores human rights. In the first lecture, we think about the concept of a right, from its origin in Ancient Greece to its development from natural to human rights. In the second lecture, we think about the origin of human rights in the 20th century, with the 1942 signing of the original United Nations declaration. In the third lecture, we think about the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its contents. Next, we think about the ongoing impacts of the universal human rights on modern conflicts and the concept of human security. In the fifth lecture, we look at three key arguments against the current implementation of human rights. In the sixth and final lecture, we think about how human rights theory and practice is often misaligned and depends greatly on the nationality of the defendant in instances of human rights violations.


In this lecture, we think about the concept of a right, focusing in particular on: (i) the origin of the word right, rooted in the Greek word for justice, demonstrating that rights have always been about what is fair and what someone deserves; (ii) defining rights as entitlements we have as human beings to have access to, or be safe from, certain resources/events/factors; (iii) some key examples of rights and types of people and animals who have these rights; (iv) differentiating between positive and negative rights; (v) John Locke’s proposed natural rights, which were formulated in the 17th century, as a God-given precursor to human rights; (vi) natural rights including the right to life, liberty and property, as well as the right to choose and look after our own wellbeing/happiness; (vii) John Locke’s proposition, that the purpose of a government is to protect its citizens’ rights, with the other direction of that social contract being our obligation to follow our government’s rules; (viii) the universality of these natural rights, which is reflected in the universality of human rights; (ix) the right of the people to respond to any abuses of those rights by their government, by overthrowing the current power and replacing it with one which respects those rights.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Hamourtziadou, L. (2023, April 06). Human Rights and State Crimes - Rights [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Hamourtziadou, L. "Human Rights and State Crimes – Rights." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 06 Apr 2023,


Dr Lily Hamourtziadou

Dr Lily Hamourtziadou

Birmingham City University