Right to Equality and Non-Discrimination


The right to equality and non-discrimination is a fundamental human right enshrined in various international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and others.

This right entails several key principles:

  • Equality before the Law

All individuals are entitled to equal protection of the law without discrimination. This principle implies that everyone should be treated equally by the law and have equal access to justice and legal remedies.

  • Non-Discrimination

States must ensure that individuals are not discriminated against on various grounds such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status. Discrimination on these grounds is prohibited in the enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.

  • Equal Protection of Rights

The right to equality includes ensuring that all individuals have equal enjoyment and exercise of their human rights and fundamental freedoms without any discrimination.

  • Affirmative Action

In certain circumstances, affirmative action measures may be taken to address past discrimination or to ensure the equal enjoyment of rights for marginalized or disadvantaged groups.

  • Reasonable Accommodation

States are often required to make reasonable accommodations to ensure that persons with disabilities can enjoy their rights on an equal basis with others.

  • Intersectionality

Recognizing that individuals may face discrimination based on multiple grounds (intersectional discrimination), such as being discriminated against due to their gender and ethnic background simultaneously.

The CCPR, in Article 2, stipulates that states parties to the covenant should respect and ensure the rights recognized therein without discrimination of any kind. It obligates states to take necessary steps to eliminate discrimination in the enjoyment of these rights and to provide effective remedies for victims of discrimination.

Other international human rights treaties, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), provide more specific protections against various forms of discrimination and outline measures to promote equality.

The right to equality and non-discrimination is foundational in promoting a just and fair society where every individual enjoys their rights and freedoms without prejudice or bias, fostering inclusive and diverse communities. States are responsible for taking proactive measures to prevent and eliminate discrimination, promote equality, and protect the rights of all individuals within their jurisdiction.

Constitution of Pakistan

Article 25 (1) of the Constitution of Pakistan clearly states that “All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law” while Article 25 (2) states “There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex”. Article 26 is related to no discrimination in respect of access to public places by stating “In respect of access to places of public entertainment or resort not intended for religious purposes only, there shall be no discrimination against any citizen on the ground only of race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place of birth.”

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