The Magna Carta was the most consequential document in Medieval England, forced upon king John in 1215 by his subjects to protect their rights and to prevent the King from abusing his power. However, there is evidence to suggest that human rights had been drawn up much earlier than this as in 539 B.C, Cyrus the Great freed the slaves of Babylon and declared that everyone had the right to choose their religion. This, along with other decrees were recorded on a baked-clay cylinder in the Akkadian language and is today recognised as the first charter of human rights, coincidentally, this declaration parallels the first 4 Articles of the universal declaration of human rights, declared on the 10th December 1948 by the United Nations general in response to the second world war. It would therefore appear that official records of Human rights spread from individual cities/countries/nations, to become globally recognised by the UN in 1945. The Babylonian declaration is the earliest record we have found of human rights and was drawn up by what we now call “modern man”. We assume that early man did not have such a thing, as we have found no evidence that they could write or use language. It is however conceivable that universal declarations were not required because early man lived and travelled in small groups, whereas, as civilisation has progressed and populations and societies became much larger, conflicts arose. Thomas Malthus described wars as positive checks that manage population size. He goes on to say “these checks may be fairly resolved into misery and vice. And that these are the true causes of the slow increase of population” and is thus suggesting that while war may be immoral, it does, along with other checks, ascertain that the population can continue to grow without outstripping the food supply. It became apparent after such conflicts that a universally accepted “conduct” was required to ensure the retention of peace, and therefore, ensure the human race continued to thrive. It could therefore be argued that human rights became a need for society, although perhaps not for individuals. For example, a lack of literacy skills, does not naturally mean our lives are in danger, we can still survive, we will just struggle to understand our modern society. Similarly, without money, we can still survive, albeit primitively by hunting for food and building basic shelters. Society on the other hand, in order to progress needs to be filled with educated people that can ‘fix’ the worlds problems such as war and famine. Nonetheless, If Malthus is to be believed, human rights will bear no effect on populations, checks will still occur to maintain its size.
The Liberal reforms
The Liberal reforms were introduced in Britain between 1906 and 1914 to improve the lives of the ‘deserving’ poor through free services and pensions. It could be argued that these were centred more on rights than needs, however, the invention of money and wealth, and...