What are human rights?
Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that every person in the world should have. There are two main types of human rights – civil and political rights, and social, cultural and economic rights.
How do human rights work?
In New Zealand, the Bill of Rights Act and the Human Rights Act set out our human rights in law. These laws apply to government agencies (including local authorities) and private sector organizations when they provide you with a service or make decisions that affect you.
Did you know that before it becomes law, every piece of legislation is checked to make sure it doesn’t breach our human rights? Learn more about New Zealand human rights legislation.
Who is covered?
Everyone is entitled to human rights, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. If you are in New Zealand, you are covered.
The Bill of Rights Act covers general human rights such as freedom of expression and the right to work and education. The Human Rights Act covers unlawful discrimination (for example, on the basis of age, color or gender). Other laws that deal with human rights issues include the Treaty of Waitangi and the Privacy Act.
Using your rights…
If you believe your human rights have been abused, what should you do about it?
The law gives you the right to take your complaint to court, but given the cost and time involved, this may not be your best option. You may be able to resolve your complaint without legal action.
But first, you need to clarify whether your human rights might have been breached, and who is best to deal with it. Talk to someone else about what has happened. This could be a trusted friend, colleague or family member. There are also many organizations you can approach directly for help and advice, including the Human Rights Commission.
NZ Human Rights National Plan of Action
New Zealand’s Human Rights Action Plan (NPA) is a free interactive tool which monitors human rights in New Zealand.
The NPA tracks our Government’s progress implementing recommendations from the UN Periodic Review in real-time and gives everyday New Zealanders the opportunity to understand, examine and keep an eye on our human rights progress.
The launch of the NPA is the beginning of an ongoing conversation about realizing human rights for all New Zealanders.
Here’s some screenshots of the NZ Human Rights National Plan of Action: