This paper argues that the dominant conception of rights is founded upon two questionable assumptions: first, that rights rest either on the individual nature of human beings or on the collective power of states; second, that rights determine responsibilities, and that being a rights-holder somehow precedes being an obligation-bearer because rights foreground obligations. The paper contends that rights are part of humankind’s social nature, and as such are embedded in a wider social and political order. If this is the case, then it follows that duties beget rights and that notions such as dignity, honour and reciprocal recognition are indispensable for respecting individual entitlements. Therefore the missing link between individual rights and responsibilities, which are upheld and enforced by sovereign states, is reciprocity—the reciprocal recognition of the dignity of the human person and the duty of all toward themselves, others and the natural world they inhabit. While these and other duties are contested within and across different civilisations, it is nevertheless the case that most human cultures have tended to view mutual recognition of people’s place and role in society as more fundamental than the pursuit of power and wealth. A Universal Declaration on Human Obligations could not only complement existing conventions on universal rights, but also provide important incentives and rewards for virtuous behaviour that contributes to the common good.