What are Natural Rights?

Definition: Natural rights are those that are fundamental to human being existence. They are universally accepted and applied and can’t be contradicted by human law.

What Does Natural Right Mean?

Natural rights are those essential to society and mankind. There are three natural rights that are considered universal, based on the idea that all men are created equal. These three rights are: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

These were first established in the American Declaration of Independence and they were enacted by Thomas Jefferson. The three are considered natural since they are not bound to human laws because they are deeply attached to the purpose of human existence. They are considered inalienable, since no one should be abrogated from them. Governments can establish many human regulations and laws but none of them should contradict these basic rights.

In some cases, these rights are not explicitly described in a country’s constitutional document but they act as the fundamental underlying principles behind them. The pioneers of these natural rights are well known philosophers like Martin Luther, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes and Thomas Paine. Each of these men developed philosophical perspectives about these natural rights and their role in society.


To illustrate this let’s think on the occasion where the Soviet Union broke up and new countries were created as a result. In order to be considered countries there had to be a constitution where fundamental laws were enacted to regulate society.

In this instance, regulators had to focus on natural laws as a starting point for any law or even for the constitution. Inspired by these rights, the constitutional documents can have the essential humanitarian requirement. Any other law being developed to regulate the country will be derived from this supreme document, i.e. the country’s constitution, ensuring that the spirit of these natural laws is therefore guaranteed in any subsequent legal instrument.