Individual rights – What it is, definition and concept

Individual rights are those that are strictly related to the personal sphere of the individual. Only full democracies guarantee the fulfillment and respect of these rights.

Individual rights guarantee that individuals can develop a dignified life and establish their own life projects in accordance with their own beliefs and preferences. Its difference with collective rights is that individual ones refer to the person, while with collectives we are referring to a group of people.

It is a concept that is closely related to human and fundamental rights. The first were approved by the UN and the second are in the constitution of each country. Individuals correspond to a type of right; They would be those rights already included in the human and fundamental, but that strictly affect the individual.

Origin of individual rights

Human rights were approved in 1948. And they served as the basis for the subsequent consolidation of fundamental rights. But individual rights are much older. It is in the seventeenth century when John Locke theorized about the need for the individual to enjoy personal rights.

For Locke, society was established through the social contract in order to preserve private property, the result of work and effort. The function of the State is to preserve and defend the rights of individuals, that is, to guarantee security without making a despotic use of power. These rights that he has to protect are three, he calls them natural rights: life, private property and freedom.

The first time that the existence and recognition of these rights was reflected in a legal text was in the Constitution of the United States of 1787. The individual rights that we are talking about are included in the amendments.

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  1. The first recognizes freedom of religion, expression of information and assembly.
  2. The second amendment recognizes the right to bear arms.
  3. The fifth affirms that without the guarantees of a legal process, neither life, liberty, nor property can be taken from anyone. The right to vote is also embodied in the Constitution.

Two years later, the French Assembly would approve the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which served to lay a solid foundation in terms of rights and freedoms.

We can summarize that the acquisition of individual rights has been a long journey of work and struggle, and that they are already recognized in countries with high democratic quality. Although in many countries, for cultural or religious reasons, many of them remain unrecognized.

Types of individual rights

We can make a brief classification of individual rights, although this is not an exclusive classification, since it can be done with other types of rights:

  • Negative rights: They are the so-called freedoms. They are characterized by not needing external intervention to achieve them. To exercise negative rights, it is only necessary for the State or the relevant institution to ensure that no one will interfere in their exercise, not even the State itself. For example: freedom of speech or freedom of movement.
  • Positive rights: Unlike the previous ones, these do need external intervention to enjoy them, normally through the State. They can only be exercised if you have the tools to do so. For example, the right to education.

What are the individual rights?

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Individual rights make up a long list, the most relevant of which are the following:

  • Right to life.
  • Personal freedom
  • Right to security.
  • Equality before the law.
  • Ideological freedom.
  • Religious and worship freedom.
  • Right to honor.
  • Freedom of expression and information
  • Right to personal and family privacy.
  • Freedom of movement and residence.
  • Freedom of assembly and association.
  • Right to vote.
  • Access to justice.
  • Education rights.

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