The society consists of a large number of people whose mutual relations are conducted by certain well established rules of conduct. Unless people accept certain restraints and responsibilities towards each other, social life will not be possible. The conditions created by the state to ensure the security of the individual and property are generally known as rights. In other words the sum total of the opportunities provided by the state for the development and expression of the individual's personality are known as rights.
According to Laski, "rights are those conditions of social life without which no man can seek, in general to be himself at his best." Even though the rights aim at the development and enrichment of the individual they lead to the all-round development of social life because the development of the part automatically leads to the enrichment of the entire society.
Therefore, it is in the interest of the state to maintain rights. Laski has rightly said that, "Every state is known by the rights that it maintains." According to the latest and the most current view, state is a welfare or social agency and strives to guarantee the rights of the individuals dwelling in it.
It is not merely concerned with the preservation of law and order but also expected to provide conditions to promote the maximum good of the maximum number of people. Rather, it aims at the welfare of all the members of the society and wants to make sure that the basic rights of citizens are provided to them without much trouble.
'What, basically, rights are?' and 'What are the basic rights of citizens in a society?' are not easy questions to answer as there have been different theories regarding rights of the citizens and the determination of basic rights. With the evolution of political systems from monarchy to today's democratic states, the concept of rights have also evolved from very reserved to a very generous one.
In the autocratic political systems rights were considered as offshoot of the monistic theory of sovereignty, according to which the rights were considered as the creation of the state. A person could have only those rights which were granted to him by the law of the state. The state not only created but also maintained and enforced those rights. It also reserved the right to make necessary modifications in those rights.
But with the creation of welfare states the theories of rights have taken a leap forward. The modern welfare theory holds that the rights are conditions of social welfare. The rights are created by the society and aim at realizing the social welfare. In simple worlds the rights are those conditions which make the individual and the society happy. These conditions must enjoy precedence over customs, usages, traditions and natural rights.
An individual cannot have any rights which go against public welfare. The Utilitarians fully supported this theory and propounded the principles of 'greatest happiness of the greatest number.' Moreover, in order to counter the economic disparities between the rich and poor class people there has been economic theory of rights as well. This theory, mainly associated with the name of Marx, tries to interpret the rights in terms of the economic system prevailing in a country.
The law preserves the conditions which are conducive to the interest of the dominant economic class. According to this view during the feudal period the rights were essentially meant to promote the feudal interests just as in the present capitalist age they promote the interests of the capitalists. For the economically deprived people there are no rights. According to this theory there can be genuine rights for all the members of the society only under a socialist system.
In addition to these theories there are theories based on ethical and moral values and ideal concepts. The ideal theory of rights views the rights in purely moral terms and considers them essential for the moral development of the individual. Green described the rights as powers 'necessary to the fulfillment of man's vocation as a moral being.' This theory holds that an individual cannot realize his full stature without rights.
The rights enable the individual to develop his physical, mental and moral faculties to the maximum limit and ultimately contribute to the development of the society as a whole. Though the modern theories of rights have shortcomings but they have played dominant role in determining the basic rights of human beings.
Today, most of the states in the world agree that the basic rights of human beings include both moral and legal rights, whereas the legal rights include the civil rights, like right to life, right to family, right to property, right to freedom of speech and expression, right to form associations and move about freely, right to work, right to religion, right to equality and right to education, and the political rights, like the right to vote, the right to contest elections, right to public office, right to petition and the right to criticize government.
In the contemporary era when the world has been globalized and the politics has been internationalized, the theories and movements of rights have reached to all the corners of the world to provide the basic rights of the human beings. These endeavors try to facilitate human rights on the face of the barriers of economic and political incapacities and shortcomings of the national governments.
These rights are basically monitored by the international bodies and work under the umbrella of United Nations Organizations. Though the international movements and organizations play their roles to make sure that all the human beings are given their rights, at the same time it is necessary for the human beings to have complete awareness about their rights so that they are not violated.
Though there have been both national and international endeavors to protect basic rights of human beings, still there are many human beings who suffer from the deprivation of their basic rights. Many governments in the world like that of our country Afghanistan, still lack the basic democratic principles and the requirements of welfare state and therefore fail to provide the citizens their due rights.
To be very specific about Afghanistan we can say that a so-called democratic government has been installed, which has taken oath to provide the people their basic rights, yet there are millions who remain unattended.