The phrase "Rights for Civil" is a translation of Latin jus civis (rights of a citizen). Roman citizens could be either free (libertas) or servile (servitus), but they all had rights in law. After the Edict of Milan in 313, these rights included the freedom of religion; however in 380, the Edict of Thessalonica required all subjects of the Roman Empire to profess Catholic Christianity. Roman legal doctrine was lost during the Middle Ages, but claims of universal rights could still be made based on Christian doctrine. According to the leaders of Kett's Rebellion (1549), "all bond men may be made free, for God made all free with his precious blood-shedding."
The removal by legislation of a civil right constitutes a "civil disability". In early 19th century Britain, the phrase "civil rights" most commonly referred to the issue of such legal discrimination against Catholics. In the House of Commons support for civil rights was divided, with many politicians agreeing with the existing civil disabilities of Catholics. The Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 restored their civil rights.
The question of to whom civil and political rights apply is a subject of controversy. Although in many countries citizens have greater protections against infringement of rights than non-citizens, civil and political rights are generally considered to be universal rights that apply to all persons.
According to political scientist Salvador Santino F. Regilme Jr., analyzing the causes of and lack of protection from human rights abuses in the Global South should be focusing on the interactions of domestic and international factors—an important perspective that has usually been systematically neglected in the social science literature.
The United States Declaration of Independence states that people have unalienable rights including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". It is considered by some that the sole purpose of government is the protection of life, liberty and property.
Civil rights guarantee equal protection under the law. When civil and political rights are not guaranteed to all as part of equal protection of laws, or when such guarantees exist on paper but are not respected in practice, opposition, legal action and even social unrest may ensue.
Worldwide, several political movements for equality before the law occurred between approximately 1950 and 1980. These movements had a legal and constitutional aspect, and resulted in much law-making at both national and international levels. They also had an activist side, particularly in situations where violations of rights were widespread. Movements with the proclaimed aim of securing observance of civil and political rights included:
Most civil rights movements relied on the technique of civil resistance, using nonviolent methods to achieve their aims. In some countries, struggles for civil rights were accompanied, or followed, by civil unrest and even armed rebellion. While civil rights movements over the last sixty years have resulted in an extension of civil and political rights, the process was long and tenuous in many countries, and many of these movements did not achieve or fully achieve their objectives.
Problems and analysis
Questions about civil and political rights have frequently emerged. For example, to what extent should the government intervene to protect individuals from infringement on their rights by other individuals, or from corporations—e.g., in what way should employment discrimination in the private sector be dealt with?
The civil rights movement was a struggle for social justice that took place mainly during the 1950s and 1960s for blacks to gain equal rights under the law in the United States. In 1868, the 14th amendment to the constitution gave blacks equal protection under the law.In the 1960s, Americans who knew only the potential of "equal protection under the law" expected the president, the Congress, and the courts to fulfill the promise of the 14th Amendment.
^"Signatures to the Seneca Falls Convention 'Declaration of Sentiments'". American History Online, Facts On File, Inc.
^Cullen-DuPont, Kathryn. "Declaration of Rights and Sentiments". Encyclopedia of Women's History in America, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2000. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc.