Bill of rights

Bill of rights

A Bill of Rights is a list or summary of rights that are considered important and essential by a group of people. The purpose of these bills is to protect those rights against infringement by the government and others. The term "bill of rights" originates from Britain, and it refers to the fact that the English Bill of Rights was literally a bill, which is a proposed law, that was passed by Parliament in 1789. Bills of rights require proper enforcement and support in order to be effective and actually protect the rights enumerated in them, which means that effectively, they are really only bills of temporary privileges.

An entrenched bill of rights exists as a separate legal instrument that falls outside of the normal jurisdiction of a country's legislative body. In many constitutional governments, an official legal bill of rights recognized by the government in principle holds more authority than the legislative bodies alone. An unentrenched bill of rights, on the other hand, may be weakened by subsequent acts that are passed by legislatures, and they do not need an approval by popular vote to alter it. Since it may be changed, an unentrenched bill of rights is a poor defense against a corrupt or tyrannical legislature.

A "statutory" unentrenched bill of rights exists as a separate act that is passed by a legislative body. As such it can be amended or repealed by the body that created it. It is therefore not as permanent as a "constitutional" bill of rights. A constitutional bill of rights cannot be changed except with the approval of that country's voting public.

In other jurisdictions, the definition of rights may be statutory. In other words, it may be repealed just like any other law, and does not necessarily have greater weight than other laws. Not every jurisdiction enforces the protection of the rights articulated in its bill of rights.

Australia is the only Western country without a constitutional or legislative bill of rights, although debate for the creation of such a bill is ongoing in many states. [cite web|url=|title=Amnesty International Australia Bill of Rights - Act now for Australia|publisher=Amnesty International Australia|accessdate=2007-11-07]

Important bills of rights

* The Code of Hammurabi, a 4,000 year old document of laws and punishments that apply to every human being (and thus, vicarious freedoms) literally "set in stone". One of several similar codes from this period in the Middle East.
* Cyrus Cylinder Allowing freedom of religion and abolishment of slavery (559-530 BC; Persian Empire/Iran)
* Constitution of Ancient Athens, establishing the Athenian democracy, allowing elected leaders and separate branches of government written by Cleisthenes (508BC; Greece)
* Magna Carta (1215; England)
* Bill of Rights 1689 (England) and Claim of Right Act 1689 (Scotland)
* Virginia Bill of Rights (June 1776)
* Preamble to the United States Declaration of Independence (July 1776)
* Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789; France)
* United States Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution (completed in 1789, ratified in 1791)
* Constitution of Greece (1822; Epidaurus)
* Basic rights and liberties in Finland (1919)
* Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
* Fundamental rights and duties of citizens in People's Republic of China (1949)
* European Convention on Human Rights (1950)
* Fundamental Rights of Indian citizens (1950)
* Implied Bill of Rights (a theory in Canadian constitutional law)
* Canadian Bill of Rights (1960)
* Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982)
* Artigo Quinto of the Constitution of Brazil (1988)
* New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (1990)
* Hong Kong Bills of Rights Ordinance (1991)
* (1996)
* Human Rights Act 1998 (United Kingdom)
* Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2006)

ee also

*British Bill of Rights
*Natural rights
*Civil rights
*Inalienable rights
*Human rights
*United States Bill of Rights
*Bill of Rights Defense Committee


External links

* [ See transcript of the original U.S. Bill of Rights] from the National Archives.
* [ "Bill of Rights"] in various formats with audio.
* [ A New British Bill of Rights: The Case For]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bill of Rights — / rīts/ often cap B&R: a summary of fundamental rights and privileges guaranteed to a people against violation by the government; esp, cap B&R: the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution see also the constitution in the back matter Merriam… …   Law dictionary

  • Bill of rights — Bill Bill, n. [OE. bill, bille, fr. LL. billa (or OF. bille), for L. bulla anything rounded, LL., seal, stamp, letter, edict, roll; cf. F. bille a ball, prob. fr. Ger.; cf. MHG. bickel, D. bikkel, dice. Cf. {Bull} papal edict, {Billet} a paper.]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Bill of Rights — steht im englischsprachigen Raum für ein Gesetz, das grundlegende Bürgerrechte gewährt. Insbesondere: Bill of Rights (England), in England, ein Gesetz vom 23. Oktober 1689, das die Rechte des englischen Parlaments festlegte. Die Virginia… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Bill Of Rights — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Bill of Rights 1689 (Angleterre) Bill of Rights 1787 (États Unis) Constitution des États Unis d Amérique Ce document provient de « Bill of Rights ».… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Bill of rights — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Bill of Rights 1689 (Angleterre) Bill of Rights 1787 (États Unis) Constitution des États Unis d Amérique Ce document provient de « Bill of Rights ».… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Bill of Rights — Bill′ of Rights′ n. 1) gov a formal statement of the rights of the people of the United States, incorporated in the Constitution as Amendments 1–10, and in all state constitutions 2) gov (l.c.) a statement of the fundamental rights of any group… …   From formal English to slang

  • Bill of rights — (engl., spr. raits, »Gesetz der Rechte«), ein Staatsgrundgesetz der engl. Monarchie, das deren parlamentarische Verfassung begründete; durch die B. wurde die nach dem Sturz König Jakobs II. von einer Kommission des Parlaments vereinbarte… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • bill of rights — n. 1. [B of R ] an act of the British Parliament passed in 1689, to confirm certain rights of the people and of Parliament ☆ 2. [B of R ] the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the U.S., which guarantee certain rights to the people, as… …   English World dictionary

  • bill of rights — plural bills of rights n a written statement of the most important rights of the citizens of a country …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Bill of Rights — Bill of Rights, the part of the US ↑constitution (=the basic laws of the country that cannot easily be changed) which is a list of the rights of US citizens, for example freedom of speech (=the right to say what you want to say, including… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • bill of rights — noun singular an official statement of the most important rights that the citizens of a country have …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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