The emergence of human rights is related mainly to the development of English, American and French constitutional law. Many great philosophers such as Rousseau, John Locke and Jean Bodin discussed how human dignity is an innate right and the state is bound to protect and respect it as an inalienable rights. At first, changes were made in the fields of religion and matters of conscience and later efforts were made to abolish slavery as well. The approval of the Charter of the United Nations was the first step towards human rights becoming international.

The Charter of the United Nations was the first document to raise human rights to a basic international standard. Later, to provide international protection, on 10 December 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This was meant to be a non-mandatory, unenforceable document, but later on with the authentic interpretation of the Charter and as part of the general common law it became legally binding.

Afterwards the human rights documents were specialized. The conventions which are the most effective to this day are the following:

  • International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965)
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979)
  • Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984)
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)
  • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006)
  • Parallel to the universal conventions, international cooperation also began to protect human rights regionally.

Notable regional documents:

  • European Convention on Human Rights (1950)
  • The European Social Charter, The Revised Charter (1961 – 1997)
  • Charter Of Fundamental Rights Of The European Union (2007)
  • American Convention On Human Rights (1969)
  • African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (1981)

Hungary became a member of the Council of Europe on 6 November 1990. Our country was among the first ones to hand in its application to join the European Union, which is why the implementation of the international human rights standards into our legal system started earlier compared to other countries in the region. To ensure this, fundamental human rights were incorporated into the constitution and separate laws were made to declare these rights. The necessary framework for the practical adoption of the various human rights regulations was ensured by the interpretative work of the Constitutional Court of Hungary.

The Hungarian Fundamental Law, which came into effect on 1 January 2012, addresses human rights in two chapters – in the National Avowal and Freedom and Responsibility.