Defining Documents in World History: Human Rights

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Human rights have an honored place in modern history and are based on the idea of human dignity and worth. Today they encompass civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights and freedoms and are understood to apply universally to humankind. The idea of human rights appears in some early religious writings and is reflected in the Magna Carta (1215). Such rights were discussed throughout the Age of Enlightenment and were central to the American Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens, among other documents.

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