Right to work

In today's world, Right to work is a topic that has become increasingly relevant and has become a point of interest for a wide variety of people. Whether we are talking about its impact on society, its relevance in history, its importance today or any other related aspect, Right to work is a topic that never stops generating debate and discussion. From its origins to its influence on the present, Right to work has been an object of study and interest for academics, professionals, and the general public. In this article, we will explore the various aspects related to Right to work and try to shed light on this topic that is so relevant today.

The right to work is the concept that people have a human right to work, or to engage in productive employment, and should not be prevented from doing so. The right to work, enshrined in the United Nations 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is recognized in international human-rights law through its inclusion in the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, where the right to work emphasizes economic, social and cultural development.

The Human Rights Measurement Initiative measures the right to work in countries around the world, based on their level of income.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 23.1:

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

— Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations General Assembly

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states in Part III, Article 6:

(1) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right.

(2) The steps to be taken by a State Party to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include technical and vocational guidance and training programmes, policies and techniques to achieve steady economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment under conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual.

— International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, United Nations General Assembly

The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights also recognises the right, emphasising conditions and pay, i.e. labor rights. Article 15, states:

Every individual shall have the right to work under equitable and satisfactory conditions, and shall receive equal pay for equal work.

— African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, Organisation of African Unity


The phrase "the right to work" was coined by the French socialist leader Louis Blanc in light of the social turmoil of the early 19th century and rising unemployment in the wake of the 1846 financial crisis which led up to the French Revolution of 1848. The right to property was a crucial demand in early quests for political freedom and equality, and against feudal control of property. Property can serve as the basis for the entitlements that ensure the realisation of the right to an adequate standard of living and it was only property owners which were initially granted civil and political rights, such as the right to vote. Because not everybody is a property owner, the right to work was enshrined to allow everybody to attain an adequate standard of living. Today discrimination on the basis of property ownership is recognised as a serious threat to the equal enjoyment of human rights by all and non-discrimination clauses in international human rights instruments frequently include property as a ground on the basis of which discrimination is prohibited (see the right to equality before the law).

The right to work, but also a duty, was placed in constitutions of the Soviet Union.


The Right to Be Lazy (1883) by Paul Lafargue, a French Marxist, criticized the concept of a right to work. He wrote: "And to think that the sons of the heroes of the Terror have allowed themselves to be degraded by the religion of work, to the point of accepting, since 1848, as a revolutionary conquest, the law limiting factory labor to twelve hours. They proclaim as a revolutionary principle the Right to Work. Shame to the French proletariat! Only slaves would have been capable of such baseness."

See also


  1. ^ "Human Rights Measurement Initiative – The first global initiative to track the human-rights performance of countries". humanrightsmeasurement.org. Retrieved 2022-03-09.
  2. ^ "Right to work - HRMI Rights Tracker". rightstracker.org. Retrieved 2022-03-09.
  3. ^ "International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights". Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 1966.
  4. ^ "African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights". www.achpr.org. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  5. ^ Robertson, Priscilla Smith (1952). Revolutions of 1848: A Social History. Princeton University Press. p. 69. ISBN 9780691007564. Right to work.
  6. ^ Alfredsson, Gudmundur; Eide, Asbjorn (1999). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: a common standard of achievement. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 533. ISBN 978-90-411-1168-5.
  7. ^ Alfredsson, Gudmundur; Eide, Asbjorn (1999). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: a common standard of achievement. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 372. ISBN 978-90-411-1168-5.
  8. ^ Article 118 of the 1936 constitution; article 40 of the 1977 constitution.
  9. ^ Paul Lafargue The Right To Be Lazy, Chapter II, 2nd paragraph

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