Write a short note on natural rights?

Though the expression ‘human rights’ had its origin in international law, which is not older than the World War II, the concept of an individual having certain basic, inalienable rights as against a sovereign State had its origin in the doctrines of natural law and natural rights.

Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679), John Locke (1632 – 1704) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1778) are the three main thinkers who developed the Natural Rights theory. Thomas Hobbes was the first champion of the theory of ‘natural rights’. In his celebrated book, ‘Leviathan’, he advocated that no individual could ever be deprived of the right to life, which he enjoyed in the state of nature. He asserted that all human beings are equal, without any consideration.

John Locke developed the idea further in his book, ‘Two Treatises Government.’ He argued that every human being has a natural right to life, personal liberty, and property, and that no governmental authority has power to deprive individuals of these rights because they had enjoyed them even before the creation of the civil or political society. Rousseau is regarded as the greatest master of natural law school. In his celebrated book, ‘The Social Contract’,

Rousseau states that “All men are born free but everywhere they are in chains.” Rousseau proclaimed that men are bestowed with inalienable rights of liberty, equality and fraternity. These concepts became the basis for the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

Paine an American revolutionary thinker developed the doctrine of natural rights without linking it to the social contract theory. He held that rights are natural, because they were bestowed upon man by God himself. These rights exist independently of the legal code of any country.

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