"Human rights" is an idea that hasn't been around for very long. Out of the ashes of the Holocast and World War II, the United Nations Assembly adopted the first formal definition of human rights called The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
Prior to 1948, the discussion of human rights was something for the philosophers. Many people didn't agree with the idea that all people held an unalienable right. They wanted to hold these rights for themselves, but couldn't imagine them for anyone else, let alone everyone else.
What are human rights?
From the United Nations Human Rights page:
"Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.
"Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law , general principles and other sources of international law. International human rights law lays down obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups."
The acceptance of human rights is only 66 years old.
If we are to have peace, we must protect human rights. The Secretary-General joined Jon Stewart at the Daily Show to talk about just this issue.