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Human rights may be defined morally or legally. Defined morally, human rights are the claims that every human should be able to make on society. If one can claim that no person should be a slave, the right not to be enslaved is a moral human right. Legally, human rights are the international laws designed to protect moral human rights. When the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stated that “no one shall be held in slavery” (Article 8), the moral right was made a legal right as well.

Early Historical Developments

Both the moral consensus on human rights and legal human rights have evolved slowly across recent centuries. Prior to the 1700s, almost all accepted slavery as moral. Prior to the early 1800s, very ...

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