originally people had rights only because of their membership in a group. then, in 539 bc cyrus the great, after conquering the city of babylon, did something totally unexpected-he freed all slaves to return home. Moreover, he declared people should choose their own religion. the Cyrus Cylinder, a clay tablet containing his statements, is the first human rights declaration in history.
the idea of human rights spread quickly to india, greece and eventually rome. The most important advances since then have included:
1215: the magna carta- giving people new rights and making the king subject to the law.
1628: the petition of right- setting ou the rights of the people.
1776:the united states declaration of independence-proclaiming the right to life,liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
1787:the constitution of the united states of america- forming the fundamental law of the US federal system of government and defining the basic rights of the citizen.
1789: the declaration of the rights of man and of the citizen-in france, establishing that all citizens are equal inthe eyes of the law.
1791: the US bill of rights- limiting the powers of the federal government and protecting the rights of all citizens, residents and visitors pf US territory.
1864: the first geneva convention- setting standards of international laws.
1948: the universal declaration of human rights-the first charter proclaiming the thirty rights to which every human being is entitled.