Many groups and movements have managed to achieve profoundsocial changes over the course of the 20th century in the name of human rights. In Western Europe and North America, labour unionsbrought about laws granting workers the right to strike, establishingminimum work conditions and forbidding or regulating child labour. Thewomen's rights movement succeeded in gaining for many women theright to vote. National liberation movements in many countriessucceeded in driving out colonial powers. One of the most influentialwas Mahatma Gandhi's movement to free his native India from Britishrule. Movements by long-oppressed racial and religious minoritiessucceeded in many parts of the world, among them the civil rightsmovement, and more recent diverse identity politics movements, onbehalf of women and minorities in the United States.Human rights are sometimes divided into negative and positive rights."Negative" human rights, which follow mainly from the Anglo-Americanlegal tradition, are rights that a government and/or private entitiesmay not take action to remove. For example, right to life and securityof person; freedom from slavery; equality before the law and dueprocess under the rule of law; freedom of movement; freedoms of speech, religion, assembly; the right to bear arms."Positive" human rights mainly follow from the RousseauianContinental European legal tradition and denote rights that the state isobliged to protect and provide. Examples of such rights include: therights to education, to health care, to a livelihood. Positive rights havebeen codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and inmany 20th-century constitutions.Some human rights are said to be "inalienable rights." This is not aterm that has a precise meaning today, but is a term from Englishproperty law, used metaphorically, and is usually a reference to theDeclaration of Independence, emphasizing the importance of a claimedright.
Criticism of human rights
One of the arguments made against the concept of human rights isthat it suffers from cultural imperialism. In particular, the concept of human rights is fundamentally rooted in a politically liberal outlookwhich, although generally accepted in Western Europe, Japan, Indiaand North America, is not necessarily taken as standard elsewhere. Anappeal is often made to the fact that influential human rights thinkers,such as John Locke and John Stuart Mill, have all been Western andindeed that some were involved in the running of Empires themselves.