Rights and obligations

When people assert their right to do something it is often demanded they provide evidence of the international instrument, national legislation, or other basis for their claim to have a ‘right’ to act. The Howard Government simply asserted the poor who received welfare payments had an obligation to ‘work for the dole’ or meet some other ‘mutual obligation’. The mechanism of downward envy was employed to assist in the acceptance of such claims to obligation.


A most objectionable assertion of rights occurs in relation to rights which are for most people uncontested but for some groups, say people with disabilities or people who are unemployed, are contested.