Rights and Freedoms

1. Civil and Political Rights

(or jump to Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights)

Association and Assembly

The Right to Association and Assembly protects the rights of peoples to organize, gather, and advocate with others with whom they share similar beliefs and interests. This includes, for example, the right to join unions or to protest peacefully.


Family Rights

The rights of the family protect and recognize the family as the fundamental unit of society, uphold the right to marry, and govern the entrance and dissolution of a marriage. Family rights may also implicate the rights of individual family members, including the care of children or the protection of maternity or reproductive rights. CST paragraphs that were tagged were generally based on the understanding of the natural family (i.e., husband and wife, man and woman).  


Freedom from Slavery

This freedom deals with protections against slavery, the slave trade, servitude, forced and compulsory labor. However, while this legal definition does not include lawful detention, military detention, community service, or civil obligations, freedom from slavery was generally tagged here as well in order to show the definition from the negative (i.e., what slavery was not).


Humane Treatment

This tag generally dealt with rights or freedoms that protected people from torture, cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment and punishment. Additionally, this tag also included paragraphs dealing with medical or scientific experimentation.


Judicial Right

 Documents tagged under Judicial Rights generally implicated procedural safeguards or due process rights inherent in the judicial/adjudicative area. For example, rights or freedoms that were guaranteed could include right to trial within a reasonable amount of time, no arbitrary arrest or detention, informing the arrested of the reason for their arrest or any charges against them.


Juridical Personality and Equality

Juridical Personality refers to how a “person” is recognized under different legal systems. This generally relates to natural persons but is not always limited to them (i.e., corporations may also be considered “persons” under the legal fiction of corporate personality). Juridical personality implicates issues of citizenship, various rights and freedoms, and treatment under the law. The principle of equality ensures that persons are treated equally before the law and are entitled to the equal protection of the law.


Liberty and Security

Liberty and Security refer to rights that protect a person from arbitrary arrest and detention. These rights are not absolute, however, and may be permissibly limited on procedural grounds as established by the laws of different jurisdictions. Liberty and security rights also implicate arrest, detention, judicial process, and compensatory remedies in case of unlawful arrest and detention.



Documents tagged under Life generally dealt with the right to life. The right means that every human person has an inherent right to life, which shall be protected by law, and protects persons from being arbitrarily denied life. Additionally, life was also tagged under some documents that dealt with the death penalty, genocide, and documents dealing with commutation of crimes. CST documents that were tagged with Life generally dealt with topics such as abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, or the death penalty.


Movement and Residence

Documents tagged under Movement and Residence generally dealt with the right of persons to move and have the freedom to choose their own residence. Furthermore, the right also implicates the freedom to leave or enter one’s country and permissible restrictions on that freedom. With regard to CST documents tagged under Movement and Residence, those paragraphs may also include discussions of migrants, refugees, and immigrants.


Name and Nationality

This topic is related to juridical personality and movement and residence (see above) but more specifically deals with the right of children and newborns to acquire nationality. Birth registration, the assignment of a name, and the factors that cannot be used in discrimination of this right also are implicated.


Opinion and Expression

Documents tagged under Opinion and Expression generally dealt with permissible and impermissible speech and regulations on speech. The freedom includes the right to seek, receive and impart ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media. Writings on hate speech, propaganda, or similar content were also tagged under this. CST documents discussing this right may also include the additional protections for religiously-motivated speech or opinions (e.g., evangelization, related to freedom of religion/conscience).


Political Participation

Documents on Political Participation dealt with the right of citizens to take part in public affairs through their freely chosen representatives. Voting rights, the regulation of elections, universal suffrage, and public service topics were also tagged under this. This tag may also be tagged alongside association/assembly rights insofar as those relate to political parties, activism, and other forms of public-policy advocacy. CST documents tagged under participation generally related to the Church’s discussions on how Catholics and other religious people can be involved in their nation’s affairs.



Privacy rights protect a person from arbitrary or unlawful interference. This may relate to privacy of the family, home, correspondence, or attacks on someone’s honor or reputation. Privacy rights have also been subsequently applied to privacy rights in the sexual sphere, reproductive rights, and surveillance/monitoring by the government. CST documents tagged under privacy may relate to any of the above topics as well but may emphasize both the personal and communal aspect of the human person – implying that privacy may not be absolute or promoting protections for the family unit, etc.


Property Rights

Property Rights relate to the right of persons to own, acquire, lease, sell, and use their economic goods. This may be an individual right and/or communal right depending upon the particular legal systems. With regard to CST, documents tagged under property rights generally related to the stewardship of economic goods, their universal origin and destination, and the appropriate use of property for personal and communal development.



Documents tagged under Thought, Conscience, and Religion deal with the right of persons to have or to adopt a religion or belief of their choice, individually or in community with others and in public or private, and to manifest that religion or belief in various ways. This right protects persons from coercion and addresses permissible limitations on that right. Finally, this right also protects the right of parents to ensure religious and moral education for their children. CST documents on this right relate strongly to the inviolability of this right and the freedoms of the Church, other religious groups, and all people of faith.



2. Economic/Social/Cultural Rights

Adequate Standard of Living

Documents tagged under Adequate Standard of Living recognize the right of persons to have food, clothing and housing, and the continuous improvement of living conditions. Paragraphs discussing international cooperation to ensure the realization of this right, including through the production, conservation, and distribution of food, and utilization of scientific and technical knowledge were also tagged under this. CST documents tagged with this relate to these elements as the necessary preconditions for (further) integral human development.


Cultural Life

Documents tagged under Cultural Life deal with the right of everyone to take part in cultural life, to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress, to benefit from the protection of moral or material interests of which they are an author. For example, legal rights with regard to this include copyright and intellectual property protections. CST documents on cultural life may implicate the role of the arts, including liturgy, architecture, and music, among others. This tag may also relate to the protection of ethnic, religious, or indigenous traditions.



Documents tagged under Education relate to the right of everyone to an education. In international human rights law, a complete education is directed to the full development of the human personality, the sense of human dignity, and strengthen respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. This also includes societal goals of promoting participation, understanding, tolerance, and friendship among peoples. Documents tagged under education may also include discussions on primary education, including compulsory education, higher education, and the right of parents and guardians to educate. CST documents tagged under education tend to discuss the purposes and aims of education and the formation of the human person in the spiritual sense also.


Family Rights

Documents and paragraphs tagged under Family Rights generally dealt with the protection and assistance that should be accorded families. This can come in the form of laws governing the establishment of families, the care of children, and the regulation of marriage. Additionally, documents tagged under this section also included maternity protections, social security, and protection of children from economic or social exploitation. CST documents tagged with family rights generally tracked this language, but also emphasized the mutual and complementarity of men and women, the need for both fathers and mothers to nurture children, and the purposes of marriage and sexuality.



Documents tagged under Health refer to the right of persons to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. This can include but is not limited to provisions on reducing infant mortality, healthy development of children, improving hygiene, the prevention, treatment, and control of diseases, and the creation of conditions to ensure all medical service in the event of sickness. CST documents tagged under health track the legal documents but also bring in a bioethics dimension by presenting important principles such as human dignity, appropriate and inappropriate medical interventions, extraordinary care, conscience protections for healthcare providers, etc.


Science and Technology

Documents tagged under Science and Technology generally referenced anything having to do with scientific progress and its applications. This also relates to culture (see above) and appropriate protections for researchers, inventors, authors, and other technical and creative professionals. This tag also includes discussions on the international level for state-to-state cooperation in the science, development, and technological fields. CST documents tagged with this topic generally also included the purposes and ends of science and technology, its appropriate use, and the need to link scientific development to moral and spiritual development.


Social Security/Social Welfare

Documents tagged under Social Security/Social Welfare refers to the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance. This includes assistance and protection for persons and families, paid leave, benefits or entitlements, and special measures of protection for children and vulnerable persons for reasons of parentage of other conditions. CST documents tagged in this area relate to the balance between State and lower-level interventions to ensure social welfare and what provisions are appropriate and necessary for human flourishing.



Documents tagged under Work/Labor relate to the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain their living by work which is freely chosen and accepted, and States’ efforts to safeguard that right. This tag can include discussions on technical and vocational guidance, training programs, policies and techniques to achieve full employment. Additionally, tags under this section also dealt with appropriate pay (i.e., remuneration), just conditions, trade unions, and special protections for different categories of workers. CST documents on workers generally tracked these topics and the need to protect workers. However, CST documents also spoke of work beyond the secular sense by presenting work as a co-creative act with God, comingling a person’s talents, energies, and creativity with the material resources of the world.



The right to Self-Determination refers to the right of peoples to freely determine their political status and to freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development. This includes the right to dispose of the natural wealth and resources and any discussions on the administration and realization of self-determination for non-self-governing and trust territories (e.g., colonized territories). CST documents on self-determination may also include the need to respect the traditions, practices, and culture of local peoples.