Fundamental rights and responsibilities
- Parliamentary Assembly
- Text adopted by
the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the Assembly, on 25
November 2011 (see Doc.
12777, report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human
Rights, rapporteur: Mrs Bemelmans-Videc).
1 Rights, duties and responsibilities
cannot be dissociated from each other. Living as members of society inevitably
entails duties and responsibilities as well as rights.
2 The issue of fundamental responsibilities has led to a broad
political debate, encompassing all sides of the political spectrum.
3 The Parliamentary Assembly believes that a distinction should
be made between duties, defined as legal obligations, and responsibilities,
defined as moral ones.
4 Some duties are already established in international human
rights instruments and national legal orders. These duties are indicative
of the existence of unwritten fundamental responsibilities.
5 Duties imposed by law are subject to the proportionality principle.
When a burden is placed on an individual, in the name of the general
interest, a fair balance has to be struck between the various interests
6 Likewise, responsibilities can never be so heavy that assuming
them would bring the individual’s rights, particularly his or her
fundamental rights, into jeopardy. Responsibilities should remain
reasonable at all times.
7 Identifying fundamental responsibilities is a sensitive issue.
Values dear to the majority prevailing at a given moment should
not be unduly imposed on all members of society.
identifies the following set of fundamental responsibilities:
8.1.1 all individuals have the general fundamental responsibility
to treat all persons in a humane way, to be tolerant and to respect
the rights of others whilst exercising their own rights;
8.1.2 furthermore, all individuals have specific fundamental
responsibilities to respect and protect human life, to refrain from
acts of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment, including practices
of exploitation of others, to respect the personal liberty of others,
to respect the private life and the reputation and honour of others,
to respect and ensure equal treatment and non-discrimination, to
acquire an education, to work, to perform civic obligations, including participation
in the democratic process, to show solidarity, to act responsibly
towards children, the elderly and the disabled and with regard to
the environment, and to respect community and private property;
8.2 emphasises that these fundamental responsibilities can
never be construed as impairing, restricting or derogating from
the rights and freedoms contained in the European Convention on
Human Rights (ETS No. 5) and its protocols, the revised European
Social Charter (ETS No. 163) and other international and regional
human rights instruments;
8.3 calls on the member states of the Council of Europe to
take these general and specific fundamental responsibilities into
account in a proportional way when dealing with individuals.