The term inalienable rights (or unalienable rights) refers to a set of human rights that are said to be absolute, not awarded by human power, not transferable to another power, and incapable of repudiation. Several different sets of inalienable rights have been suggested by philosophers and politicians. Inalienable rights are defined as natural rights, but natural rights are not required by definition to be inalienable.
In "The Social Contract," Jean-Jacques Rousseau claims that the existence of inalienable rights is unnecessary for the existence of a constitution or a set of laws and rights. This idea of a social contract – that rights and responsibilities are derived from a consensual contract between the government and the people – is the most widely recognized alternative.
Samuel P. Huntington, an American political scientist, wrote that the "inalienable rights" argument from the Declaration of Independence was necessary because "The British were white, English, and Protestant, just as we were. They had to have some other basis on which to justify independence".