Difference Between Rights and Obligation

Rights vs Obligation

The key difference between rights and obligation is that, while rights refer to what we gain, obligations refer to what we should do. Rights and obligations play a key role in any society. It is these rights and obligations that strengthen the society, giving it more stability. They also lead to developing the social consciousness of people as social beings. Rights have to be viewed as individual entitlements such as freedom. Obligations, on the other hand, are our responsibilities as citizens or individuals of the society. This highlights that rights and obligations are at two interrelated, yet different parts in the social web. This article will provide a clear understanding of the difference.

What is a Right?

A right can be defined as an entitlement to have or do something. Rights allow people to be aware of what they are entitled to and what they are not entitled to do. In different societies and cultural groups, there are various rights. These may be backed up by social, ethical or legal boundaries. When speaking of rights, a universal set of values applies to all human beings irrespective of nationality, sex, culture, religion, or ethnic group. These are known as human rights.

Human rights are in the form of laws that apply to all human beings without any discrimination. It is the obligation of all states to implement these and create an ambiance where human rights can be enjoyed by all people. Some of these rights are right to live, right to equality, freedom of expression, the right to education, right to work, right to enjoy economic, cultural, and social privileges, etc.

It is believed that rights lay the foundation for the effective functioning and stabilization of any society. For example, let us take the rights of children, such as to be educated, to be loved and nourished. If the child is given the opportunity to enjoy his rights, he will learn to be a good citizen in the future. It is then that the child will perform his obligations to others as well.

Difference Between Rights and Obligation

Right to education is a human right

What is an Obligation?

An obligation can be defined as something that one must do because of a law, necessity or because it is their duty. There are various forms of obligations such as legal obligation, moral obligation, etc. For example respecting adults, or else looking after your parents when they are old, is not a legal obligation. There are no laws that force you to do them. However, they are your moral obligation. Just as rights, obligations play a vital role in society.

If individuals are more focused on obtaining their rights but are indifferent to their obligations, it creates a negative ambiance. Hence, people should realize that just as they enjoy their rights, they have to fulfill their obligations towards others.

 Rights vs Obligation

Taking care of one’s parents is an obligation

What is the difference between Rights and Obligation?

• Definitions of Rights and Obligation:

• A right can be defined as an entitlement to have or do something.

• An obligation can be defined as something that one must do because of a law, necessity or because it is their duty.

• Entitlement or Task:

• Rights are entitlements that people have.

• Obligations are individual tasks that need to be completed by those who are privileged by their rights.

• For Whom:

• Rights are for one’s self.

• Obligations are mostly for others.

• Connection to Society:

• Rights are what we gain from the society.

• Obligations are what we do for the society.


Images Courtesy:

  1. School Children via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Mother and Daughter via Pixabay (Public Domain)
  • Deanna Hayes

    To say an obligation is something that one ‘should’ do is a slippery slope. In today’s culture, people may cite obligation as a reason for obedience. Should may be better determined by a chosen belief system. That upholds both rights and obligation. Social ties can be very entangled when people begin to assert obligation and patriotism will not be restored until rights trump one person’s claim to obligation over another. Trump can make this country great again, but people need to be informed.