In her article, “The International Law of Human Rights,” Debra DeLaet explains that the United Nations differentiates between civil and political rights (first generation rights), and economic, social and cultural rights (second generation rights). While both sets of rights are vital to ensure basic human rights in any society, second generation rights are more essential in enabling people to lead dignified lives. At least some version of first generation rights are guaranteed to citizens of most democratic societies. In contrast, economic, social and cultural rights – although fundamental to individual dignity and well-being – are not applied equally without discrimination in even the most affluent democracies like the United States,
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Many states that are xenophobic or have a dominate religion in their country will have many arguments to bring up as to why they would disagree with this right. One change, needed more so in first generation than second generation rights, to obtain widespread support, is to begin with including a wide range of provisions which will reflect different states’ traditions. These conflicting views between states eliminates the chance of creating universally accepted human rights and only encourages some states to set human rights obligations as goals, rather than operative mandates. Only then, will the precedence of second generation rights over first generation rights will be lowered.
The way states adhere to all rights within their territory is by self-enforcement and human rights organizations that act as international watchdogs. Some rights require more enforcement than others, but it entirely depends on whether or not the state has recognized one of the rights. A large reason why some states do and do not ratify some human rights treaties is because the amount of resources used to enforce that these rights are being applied differ. Civil and political rights do not require much resources of a state to enforce. Economic, social and cultural rights do require state resources and can sometimes be costly; seriously affecting the states’ decision to recognize them. Second generation rights are