Regional Perspectives on Human Rights: The USSR and Russia, Part One

The Soviet Union advocated a conception of human rights different from the notion of rights prevalent in the West. Western legal theory emphasized the so-called “negative” rights: that is, rights of individuals against the government. The Soviet system, on the other hand, emphasized that society as a whole, rather than individuals, were the beneficiaries of “positive” rights: that is, rights from the government. In this spirit, Soviet ideology placed a premium on economic and social rights, such as access to health care, adequate and affordable basic food supplies, housing, and education, and guaranteed employment.