Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.
International human rights law lays down the obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.
One of the great achievements of the United Nations is the creation of a comprehensive body of human rights law—a universal and internationally protected code to which all nations can subscribe and all people aspire. The United Nations has defined a broad range of internationally accepted rights, including civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. It has also established mechanisms to promote and protect these rights and to assist states in carrying out their responsibilities.
The foundations of this body of law are the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly in 1945 and 1948, respectively. Since then, the United Nations has gradually expanded human rights law to encompass specific standards for women, children, persons with disabilities, minorities and other vulnerable groups, who now possess rights that protect them from discrimination that had long been common in many societies.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages.
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations.
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge.
Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
2. One shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation.
Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
2. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek receive and impart information and ideas though any media and regardless of frontiers.
1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
2. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secrete vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international cooperation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including foods, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
1. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
Human rights connect us to each other through a shared set of rights and responsibilities.
A person’s ability to enjoy their human rights depends on other people respecting those rights. This means that human rights involve responsibility and duties towards other people and the community.
Individuals have a responsibility to ensure that they exercise their rights with consideration for the rights of others. For example, when someone uses their right to freedom of speech, they should do so without interfering with someone else’s right to privacy.
Governments have a particular responsibility to ensure that people are able to enjoy their rights. They are required to establish and maintain laws and services that enable people to enjoy a life in which their rights are respected and protected.
For example, the right to education says that everyone is entitled to a good education. This means that governments have an obligation to provide good quality education facilities and services to their people.
Whether or not governments actually do this, it is generally accepted that this is the government's responsibility and people can call them to account if they fail to respect or protect their basic human rights.
Values of tolerance, equality and respect can help reduce friction within society. Putting human rights ideas into practice can helps us create the kind of society we want to live in.
In recent decades, there has been a tremendous growth in how we think about and apply human rights ideas. This has had many positive results - knowledge about human rights can empower individuals and offer solutions for specific problems.
Human rights are an important part of how people interact with others at all levels in society - in the family, the community, schools, the workplace, in politics and in international relations. It is vital therefore that people everywhere should strive to understand what human rights are. When people better understand human rights, it is easier for them to promote justice and the well-being of society.
Human Beings are rational beings. They by virtue of their being human possess certain basic and inalienable rights which are commonly known as human rights.
Human Rights are defined as all those rights which are essential for the protection and maintenance of dignity of individuals and create conditions in which every human being can develop his personality to the fullest extent may be termed as human rights.
Human rights become operative with the birth of an individual. Human rights, being the birth right, are inherent in all the individuals irrespective of their caste, religion, sex and nationality.
Because of their immense significance to human beings ; human rights are also sometimes referred to as fundamental rights, basic rights, inherent rights, natural rights and birth rights.
The World conference On Human Rights held in 1993 in Vienna stated in the Declaration that all human rights derive from the dignity and worth inherent in the human person , and that the human person is the central subject of human rights and fundamental rights.
Human rights is one of such rights which has been conferred to individuals by the states in the modern International Law.
The modern perspective to human rights is reflected in the Vienna Declaration adopted by the World conference on Human rights in June 1993. The declaration categorically states that all human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and inter-related and that democracy, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. The conference reaffirmed the right to development as a universal inalienable right and an integral part of the fundamental human rights.
The legal process in the universality of human rights effectively commenced with the universal declaration of human rights 1948 (UDHR).
Adoption of the UN charter in the aftermath of the Second World War can rightly be considered as a landmark in the journey towards universal acceptance of human rights.
Through a long process of evolution , modern human rights jurisprudence has crystallized into three basic principles :
The principle of universal inherence: Every human being has certain rights, capable of being enumerated and defined which are not conferred on him by any ruler, nor earned or acquired by purchase, but which inhere in him by virtue of his humanity alone.
The principle of inalienability: no human being can be deprived of any of those rights by the acts of any ruler or even by his own act or in a democracy even by the will of the majority of the sovereign people.
The rule of Law:Where rights conflict with each other, the conflicts must be resolved by the consistent, independent and impartial application of just laws in accordance with just procedures.
An individual can seek human rights only in an organized community, i.e. a
State, or in other words where the civil social order exists. Thus the principle of protection of human rights is derived from the concept of man as a person and his relationship with an organized society which cannot be separated from universal human nature.
Human rights being essential for all- round development of the personality of the individuals in the society be necessarily protected and be made available to all the individuals. They must be preserved, cherished and defended if peace and prosperity are to be achieved . Human rights are the very essence of a meaningful life and to maintain human dignity is the ultimate purpose of the government.
Life, liberty, and security of the person; privacy and freedom of movement; ownership of property; freedom of thought, conscience, and religious belief and practice; prohibition of slavery, torture, and cruel or degrading punishment.
Rule of law
Equal recognition before the law and equal protection of the law; effective legal remedy for violation of rights; impartial hearing and trial; presumption of innocence; and prohibition of arbitrary arrest.
Rights of political expression
Freedom of expression, assembly, and association; the right to take part in government; and periodic and meaningful elections with universal and equal suffrage.
Economic and social rights
An adequate standard of living; free choice of employment; protection against unemployment; "just and favorable remuneration"; the right to form and join trade unions; "reasonable limitation of working hours"; free elementary education; social security; and the "highest attainable standard of physical and mental health."
Rights of communities
Self-determination and protection of minority cultures.
The first tier or "generation" consists of civil and political rights and derives primarily from the seventeenth and eighteenth-century political theories noted earlier which are associated with the English, American, and French revolutions. Think "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." This approach favors limiting government by placing restrictions on state action. The rights set forth in Articles 2-21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights include: freedom from discrimination; freedom from slavery; freedom from torture and from cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention; the right to a fair and public trial; freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; freedom of opinion and expression; and the right to participate in government through free elections.
II. Socialist tradition (19th century)
The second generation of rights broadens the primarily political focus of of earlier views to include economic, social, and cultural rights. This view origininates primarily in the socialist traditions of Marx and Lenin. According to this view, rights are conceived more in positive rather than negative terms, and thus encourage the intervention of the state. Illustrative of these rights are Articles 22-27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They include the right to social security; the right to work; the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of self and family; and the right to education.
III. The third generation of "solidarity rights" (20th century)
These views are a product of the rise and decline of the nation-state in the last half of the twentieth century. These rights have been championed by the Third World and remain somewhat controversial and debated. The specific rights include the right to political, economic, social, and cultural self-determination; the right to economic and social development; and the right to participate in and benefit from "the common heritage of mankind."
1. Civil and political rights: Civil rights and liberties are referred to those rights which are related to the protection of the right to life and personal liberty. They are essential for a person so that he may live a dignified life. Such rights include right to life, liberty, right to privacy, freedom from torture and right to own property. These rights also known as (freedom from).
Whereas political rights may be referred to those rights which allow a person to participate in the government of a state. For e.g. right to vote, right to be elected and right to take part in conduct of public affairs.
The nature of both civil and political rights may be different but they are inter-related and therefore it does not appear logical to differentiate them. This reason led to the formulation of one covenant covering both civil and political rights into one covenant i.e. International Covenant on civil and political rights.
Economic, social and cultural rights: Economic, social and cultural rights are based fundamentally on the concept of social equality (also called ‘freedom to’) are related to the guarantee of minimum necessities of the life to human beings. In the absence of these rights the existence of human beings is like to be endangered.
Right to adequate food, clothing, housing and adequate standard of living and freedom from hunger, right to work , right to social security, right to physical and mental health and right to education are included in this category of rights.These rights sometimes called positive rights require active intervention, not abstentions on the part of the states. The enjoyment of these rights requires a major commitment of resources and therefore their realization cannot be immediate as in the case of civil and political rights.
Although the United Nations has recognized the above two sets of rights in two separate Covenants i.e. International covenant on civil and political rights ( ICCPR) and International covenant on economic social and cultural rights ( ICESCR) there is a close relationship between them. It has been rightly realized especially by the developing countries that civil and political rights can have no meaning unless they are accompanied by social, economic and cultural rights. Thus both categories of rights are equally important and where civil and political rights do not exist, there cannot be full realization of economic, social and cultural rights and vice versa.
The human right to free and compulsory elementary education and to readily available forms of secondary and higher education. - The human right to freedom from discrimination in all areas and levels of education, and to equal access to continuing education and vocational training, and the human right to information about health, nutrition, reproduction, and family planning. The human right to education is inextricably linked to other fundamental human rights- rights that are universal, indivisible, interconnected and interdependent including: - The human right to equality between men and women and to equal partnership in the family and society; - The human right to work and receive wages that contributed to an adequate standard of living; - The human right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and belief; - The human right to an adequate standard of living, and; - The human right to participate in shaping decisions and policies affecting one’s community, at the local, national and international levels.
Principle/Nature of Conflict :
Conflict is a product of our inherent differences and diversities. Thus, it is NATURAL - it’s neither positive nor negative. It depends on how we approach it our approach is our choice. It is determined by our conception of conflict.
What is Conflict Transformation?
Conflict transformation describes the fact that conflict changes things and it transforms relationships. It prescribes the need for us to be aware of our conception of conflict, transform it and eventually manifest this transformation in our behavior and attitude. Relationship is the focus of Conflict Transformation- changing it from one of competition to one of cooperation.
International human rights law has been developing extensively since the creation of the United Nations. The most fundamental point about human rights law is that it establishes a set of rules for all the people of all the states.Human rights is international in the sense of it being universal, applying to all the individual. However, international human rights law refers mainly to the obligations of states to individuals within their jurisdiction. When states fail to assure realization of human rights to the individuals within their jurisdiction international obligation arises. Thus, obligations to provide human rights individuals is mainly intra-national and in some cases international.
Promotion and Protection of Human Rights by the United Nations
The prime responsibility for the promotion of human rights under the U.N Charter rests in the General Assembly, in the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary body i.e. the council on human rights.
The term protection of human rights which may mean implementation and enforcement action does not find place in the U.N Charter. When human rights violations assume massive dimensions, the General Assembly and other organs of the UN can initiate discussion and action. Among the United Nations agencies only the Security Council and the International Court of Justice can engage in enforcement action; only they have a competence to pass a binding resolution or issue a binding judgment. Enforcement is thus the authoritative application of human rights.
The United Nations in the past has been able to promote and protect human rights by certain ways which are as follows:
Human Rights Consciousness- the first and the most important role which the United Nations has played is that it has made the people and the states conscious about the human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Codification of the law of human rights- The United Nations has codified the different rights and freedoms by making treaties for all sections of the people such as women, child, workers, refugees, etc.
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) , a principal organ of the United Nations was most directly concerned with the question of human rights. The Council under Article 68 of the U.N Charter was empowered to set up commissions for the promotion of human rights and such other commissions as may be required for the performance of its functions. The council may also meets annually in Geneva for six weeks beginning in March. The commission may also meet between annual sessions to deal with urgent human rights situations.
The council as determined by its terms of reference was directed to prepare recommendations and reports on the following items:
1. On international bill of rights
2. International declarations and conventions on civil liberties, the status of women, freedom of information.
3. The protection of minorities.
4. The prevention of discrimination on grounds of race, language or religion.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The idea for the protection for human rights and fundamental freedoms was conceived in the Atlantic Charter (1941) and in the Declaration of the United Nations (1942).
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 with an aim to enumerate human rights for all the people. The UDHR has inspired a rich body of legally binding international human rights treaties. It continues to be an inspiration to all whether in addressing injustices, in times of conflicts and in our efforts towards achieving universal enjoyment of human rights.
Legal Effect of the Declaration
The Universal Declaration set for the International community a common standard of achievement. It recognized the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all people in all nations. It is the duty of the States regardless of their social, political and economic systems to promote and protect human rights.
The Universal Declaration was not intended to be legally binding and therefore it did not impose any legal obligations on the States to give effect to its provisions. In other words from the legal point of view, the declaration was only recommendation and not strictly binding on the states.
The main object of the Declaration was to present the ideas of human rights and freedoms in order to inspire everybody to work for their progressive realization. The message conveyed is one of hope, equality, liberation and empowerment.
International humanitarian law is a branch of International Law which provides protection to human beings from the consequences of armed conflicts.
Humanitarian Law deals with those matters which have an impact of armed conflicts on the life ,personal integrity and liberty of human beings. Thus humanitarian law may be referred to that body of law which defines those principles and rules which limit the use of violence in times of war. These rules are inspired by principles of humanity and they are meant to avoid human sufferings and brutality in armed conflicts. However, those rules of war which are based on humanitarian considerations or motivations are called humanitarian law.
International Humanitarian Law has much in common with the law of human rights since both is concerned with the protection of the individuals nevertheless there are important differences between the two. First difference is that International humanitarian law is applied during the time of armed conflicts whereas the law of human rights is applied in peace time.
The second difference is that the state which becomes a party to a human rights treaty assumes an obligation to treat all person within the jurisdiction in accordance with the provisions of the treaty .Humanitarian Law is primarily made up of treaties, agreements between states intended to have binding legal effect between the parties that have agreed to them and are binding only between States which are parties to those treaties.