Human Rights

Human rights as we know them today began with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. New Zealand, led by Prime Minister Peter Fraser, played a key part in the drafting of the Declaration. In this section you can find out what we mean by human rights, how they work and how you can use them. You can also learn more about the national and international laws that protect and promote our human rights.

What are human rights?

What are human rights?

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that everyone should have. There are two main types of human rights – civil and political rights, and social, cultural and economic rights.

Learn More
How human rights work

How human rights work

Human rights are set out in law. If someone has abused your human rights, you have the right to take them to court.

Learn More
Using your rights

Using your rights

Before you take a complaint to court, you may be able to resolve it without legal action.

Learn More
National human rights institutions

National human rights institutions

The Human Rights Commission is New Zealand’s national human rights institution. We have ‘A’ status accreditation, which gives us voting rights at the International Coordinating Committee.

Learn More
Human rights legislation in New Zealand

Human rights legislation in New Zealand

There are two main laws in New Zealand that specifically promote and protect human rights. These are the Human Rights Act 1993, and the Bill of Rights Act 1990.

Learn More
International human rights legislation

International human rights legislation

Human rights were first expressed in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Countries who sign up to international human rights treaties must include the rights in their own laws.

Learn More
Our work

Our work

Our work in human rights concentrates on a report card on the state of human rights in New Zealand, Monitoring Places of Detention, human rights and water, the right to privacy, and the Universal Preiod Review of human rights.

Learn More
NZ Human Rights National Plan of Action

NZ Human Rights National Plan of Action

The NPA charts our Government’s progress in implementing recommendations from the UN Periodic Review. It will be published here on 30 June.

Learn More