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Rights can be defined the moral or legal entitlement to have or do something. Human rights can be simply defined as: "Basic standards aimed at securing dignity and equality for all." They are covered by many different declarations and covenants.

One framework Spectrum considers particularly important to our mission is the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. They are like an umbrella – they cover all rights and all companies in all jurisdictions. These principles have also become known as the "Protect, Respect, Remedy" Framework.

Moral codes have existed and do exist in some form in all societies and covers what is right or wrong, permissible or not permissible, legitimate or not legitimate and are the moral foundation for human rights. The UN Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights (UN OHCHR) gives the following definition: "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."

A further explanation describes human rights as universal legal guarantees; covering civil, political, economic, social and cultural aspects; that protect human values such as freedom, equality and dignity.

They are considered inherent to individuals and, to some extent, groups. Human rights are reflected in international norms and standards and are legally binding on states.

  • Human Rights Overview

    Human Rights Overview

    Moral codes have provided the foundation for human rights. Examples of the Golden Rules from five religions are often quoted:

  • Rights Based Approaches

    Rights Based Approaches

    Spectrum supports a rights-based approach to development, recognising binding legal and moral obligation that governments (duty-bearers) have to support people (rights-holders).

  • Protect, Respect, Remedy Framework

    Protect, Respect, Remedy Framework

    The framework covers all rights and all companies in all jurisdictions. It is also known as the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.

  • Ethnic Led Development & Peace Process

    Ethnic Led Development & Peace Process

    Spectrum's philosophy embraces inclusive models of development and a desire for lasting peace. But what does that really mean in complex situations with many ethnic groups and long-running conflicts?

  • Responsible Business

    Responsible Business

    Definitions of responsible business abound, yet examples of universally acclaimed responsible businesses are actually rather hard to find.


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