Rights and responsibilities

Last updated: 3/5-2023

Every person has human rights and is therefore a rights holder. It is the state’s responsibility to respect, protect and promote human rights. The state is therefore duty bearer for human rights. But it is not only the state that is obliged to respect, protect and promote human rights.

Every individual has a responsibility towards his or her fellow human beings. In practice, this means that you must never use your human rights in a way that infringes other people's rights. This applies to freedom of speech, for example. Every person is entitled to express their opinions, but you must not use freedom of speech to infringe other people's human rights. Sweden has legislation prohibiting agitation against an ethnic or national group, for example. Agitation against an ethnic or national group means spreading, threatening or expressing contempt based on e g skin colour, religion or sexual orientation/identity.

Another example is freedom of religion. Every person is entitled to have a religion or belief system. However, this freedom may not be exercised in a way that violates other fundamental rights and freedoms. This also applies to the right to practice cultural traditions. An example of this is that all forms of genital mutilation of girls and women are forbidden by Swedish law. It is also a criminal offence to have knowledge of the planning of this harmful custom.

Another example of a right in Sweden that includes obligations is the right of public access (allemansrätten), which gives everyone the right to spend time in nature. But everyone is equally obliged to show respect for nature and animal life when doing so. In Sweden there are also obligations connected with the right to housing (obligations as a tenant), the right to work (obligations as an employee), and with the right to social security and an adequate standard of living, which includes e g the national insurance system (obligations connected with allowances).