We do not need laws to give us rights. Our rights are not simply what a government is prepared to grant us. It is dangerous to think that we only have the rights that might be granted by government. Before we became civilized, there were no rules about theft, abuse, and murder — they were part of the way of life. You may not live to the end of the day. When we became civilized, we were expected to maintain a ‘common decency’ towards our fellow humans. This was upheld primarily by upbringing, through the guidance of ‘religious rule makers’, and, to a lesser extent, enforced by various tribal punishments. This went backwards under Moses, as he said, “These lands that I give you, you shall kill the inhabitants therein. This includes the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites..” (my translation.)  Moses clearly instructs the extermination of the whole previous population. Moses needs to be expunged from Christian acceptance. Moses was not supporting ‘Natural Law’.
Jesus brought the thinking forward by effectively stating: “You need to be good to each other.” Jesus espoused a theme of common decency which now forms the backbone of Western civilization. From Jesus onwards, we expect common decency from those around us.
When we first became civilized, the people that made rules wrapped it in a spiritual jargon with interesting festival procedures. They were named “religious people”. It wasn’t that religious people were required to make the laws, but that those that made the rules were then called religious. Religions that got it ‘right’ survived. Those religions that got their rules wrong disappeared.
So we have a natural law that I say derives from becoming civilized with its condemnation of theft, abuse, and murder. Religions rode on top of this and created more guidance. Nation-states then rode on top of this to make a gridlock of laws covering minutiae. However, nation-states always make ‘negative’ laws, whereas religions, for the most part make ‘be good’ laws for ‘their’ followers but create an apartheid attitude to those of other religions. Jesus was the exception. He demanded ‘goodwill to all mankind’. The theme of ‘Christmas’ is ‘goodwill to all mankind’. We do not say: “Are you Christian?” then: “Merry Christmas” otherwise: “Get stuffed”.
When civilization breaks down, natural law, religious law, and nation-state law erodes. Theft, rape, and murder regain their prominence as is often referred to as the ‘rule of the jungle’. So I am not convinced that ‘natural rights’ come from nature. They appear to come from the concept of civilization — harmony among people. Let us look at what is commonly said about ‘Natural Law’ and ‘Natural Rights’. Jean Jacques Rousseau attempted to reconcile the natural rights of the individual with the need for social unity and cooperation through the idea of the social contract. He was thus considering a social cooperation that resulted from the civilizing process.
If we look for a description or definition of ‘Natural Law’, we get various results, some of which go round in a circle:
Natural Right: any right that exists by virtue of natural law.Dictionary.com
That seems to be ‘circular logic’ to me!
Natural Rights, understood as those that are not dependent on the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, (and therefore, universal and inalienable) were central to the debates during the Enlightenment on the relationship between the individual and the government.
So, natural rights can be understood to be those rights that are not dependent on the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government. Reasoning then follows that they are universal and inalienable. This discussion was central to debates during the Enlightenment concerning the relationship between the individual and the government. We still have this controversy today. Government officials often think that they are there to control us, rather than to serve us.
Some might say that the following were expressions of “Natural Rights”: the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the American Declaration of Independence (1776), the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (1789), the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States (usually known as the Bill of Rights, 1791), and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations (1948). However, we might also say that these are governments granting rights that pre-existed as real ‘Natural Rights’. As I argue that ‘Natural Rights’ are not something that is granted by government but are granted by god or nature, depending on your way of thinking. But even when I say by god or nature, there is still the proviso that we are in civilised society. I do not expect my ‘natural rights’ to be upheld in a hostile situation. Try pleading with a hostage taker with a gun pointed at you that you have natural rights! Here is a picture taken by me in Champs d’Elise, Paris in 2018 of a government thug pointing a rubber bullet gun at me! Natural rights suspended!
John Locke 1632-1704 wrote on the subject. Locke assumed that humans were rational and good, and that they carried into political society the same rights they had enjoyed in earlier stages of society. This included the freedom of worship, the right to a voice in their own government, and the right to property. He may have assumed incorrectly, because under a breakdown of society, your rights go out of the window. Standing in the street can be as dangerous as jumping into the bear pit at the zoo. Without a gun, you don’t survive. Thinking that we have rights that cannot be violated by anyone or by any society is patently incorrect. I certainly don’t trust the police to look after my interests. I don’t expect our justice system to treat me justly! I can’t leave property lying around as I could in the middle ages. One old lady in Reading said: “I don’t like going into the city any more — as I don’t like being spat on by the M****ms.” It might be considered heinous to mention the topic, but the spitting continues! She gets in trouble if she mentions who spits on her but the spitter get to continue. ‘Natural Rights’ are thus suspended, Religious teachings ignored, and Nation-state Laws ignored.
New York-based conservative think tank Gatestone Institute has compiled a shocking list of sexual assaults and rapes by migrants in Germany in just the first two months of the year. Drawing solely from German media reports, the list documents in excess of one hundred and sixty instances of rape and sexual assault committed by migrants in train stations, swimming pools, and other public places against victims as young as seven. This is ‘Natural Law’, religious law, and nation-state ignored. German police use terms such as “southerners” (südländer), men with “dark skin” (dunkelhäutig, dunklere gesichtsfarbe, dunklem hauttyp) or “southern skin colour” (südländische hautfarbe) to describe the alleged perpetrators.
Clearly, ‘Natural Rights’ appear to have been suspended by the migrants mentioned. Centuries of building a ‘common decency contract ‘ amongst the people of Europe has been thrown out of the window in a few years of heavy immigration from nations that do not operate to the same set of ‘Natural Laws’. An unworkable clash of ‘Natural Law’ of the native inhabitants clashes with the Natural Rights of the indigenous peoples. The Second World War has yet to finish for Germany as those that misled the West to war decimate the German population.
I keep reading things such as: “Natural law comes from the moral principles common to all people by virtue of their spiritual or rational nature as human beings.” But if it breaks down under the collapse of ‘civic norms’, then we must consider that is is a primary component of civilization.
It is nice to think we have natural rights, but when I walk round a strange city late at night, ‘natural rights’ do not guarantee my safety. I also have to be aware of the culture of the region — which encompasses the way the young are brought up to respect others and also the propensity of the locals to adhere to the rule of law. Even in our Western countries, we no longer expect justice from our justice system and nor do we expect fair treatment from the police system. We no longer expect our army to protect our nation from enemies external and internal as its prime objective, have been normalize to allow it to violate the ‘Natural Rights’ of humans living in far away places if enough propaganda is pushed in front of us. In this situation, it is not the ‘foreigners’ that are the enemy, is is our government that is our enemy.
 When the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than you, 2 and when the LORD your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. 3 You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, 4 for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the LORD would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.