Resolution to support standardised use of the term "human rights" (in French)

19/11/2019
Statement

Asserting the spirit of Article 1 of the FIDH Statutes recognising that the fight for human rights is based on the fundamental principle of equality, which requires opposition to all forms of racism and discrimination, especially discrimination based on gender, sexual identity and sexual orientation, customs, health or disability, political, philosophical or religious opinions, national or social status;

Encouraged by all the conversations for over a decade on the need to change the expression “rights of man” which up to now has been used to refer to “human rights” in French;

Referring to the fact that the fundamental rights it signifies are not those set out in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen but those set out in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and that the texts under consideration differ on essential points. In particular the 1789 Declaration did not apply to women: in this document the word “man” was chosen not because of its alleged generic value but specifically to indicate people of the male gender, to the exclusion of people of the female gender, while on the contrary, the 1948 Declaration, in its preamble, elevates protection against gender discrimination to the rank of a universal right;

Noting that the French language is the only language that decided to keep this expression from one Declaration to the next. The other languages have explicitly distinguished the two texts by changing the nomenclature, either in English human rights instead of rights of man, in Italian diritti umani instead of diritti dell’uomo, in Spanish derechos humanos instead of derechos del hombre;

Referring to the importance of the right expressed in 1948, yet essential to the universality of the UDHR since it ensures the inclusion of women as part of humanity. Article 1 of the UDHR starts with the following words ”All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights;

Recognising that the use of specific terminology can contribute intentionally or unintentionally to the aforementioned discrimination and imply acceptance of attitudes connected to sexism, colonialism and social exclusion;

Praising the efforts of human rights defenders and activists who fight discrimination and work so that our vocabulary and our terminology are not discriminatory in the various linguistic regions and origins in order to ensure integrity and the coherence of our values, actions and words;

Considering that several institutions, including some of our member leagues, have already adopted the more unifying term, “human rights” to replace the controversial and divisive term “rights of man” in their work and in their title;

Committed to strengthening the profile of FIDH as a modern, avant-garde, progressive, anti-discriminatory and inclusive movement;

Emphasising the unifying and inclusive value of this change that is beneficial to our movement;

The 40th FIDH Congress, meeting in Taipei (Taiwan) from 23 to 25 October 2019 hereby decide to adopt and henceforth systematically use the term “droits humains” [“human rights” in French] in all our internal and public documents and to prepare the related changes to the Statutes in consideration of our next Congress in 2022.

Read more
statement