Mercurial Essays

Free Essays & Assignment Examples

1B The definition of Human Rights

Human rights (HR’) are rights held by all human beings
HR are universal, inherent (exist simply because a person is human (they are part of being human) and inalienable (Cannot be taken away)
“Government does not give you those rights; it is the responsibility of the state to recognise them”
Rights must be balanced with Responsibilities, SMH, 2010
1C Formal Statements of HR – UDHR
There was no event to trigger a worldwide co-operative approach to human rights until WW2
But, UN Charter (1945) mentions that all humans have rights, but doesn’t go into detail about what those rights are.

And, as the reality of what had just happened during WWII came out (genocide, mass displacement of millions of human beings), the UN decided that, The UN Charter was NOT ENOUGH
So the UN created a group – the Commission on Human Rights – and told the group to work on
a Declaration of Human Rights (it became the ongoing Human Rights Project’)
10th December, 1948: Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
The first 28 sections (the “main” rights that people know) can be split into 4 PARTS/PILLARS, which go in order of the way human rights have developed in history:
Pillar One: Art 1-2
Human rights belong to all human beings, without discrimination
Pillar Two: Art 3-19
“1st Generation” Rights (right to life, security, civil liberties)
Pillar Three: Art 20-26
“2nd Generation” Rights (economic rights, social rights)
Pillar Four: Art 27-28
“3rd Generation” Rights (community and cultural rights)
and, though they’re usually forgotten
LIMITS to these rights and DUTIES!
BUT
Even though we CAN roughly “split-up” these rights to make them easier to remember (by categorising them into different themes), it is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT THAT THAT UDHR WAS ONE DOCUMENT and that the document is a SINGLE LIST (they PURPOSELY did NOT split them up because ONE human right is not supposed to be seen a more or less important than another!)
Human rights are indivisible – they can’t be separated from each other
You can’t ignore ONE set/type/category of human rights at the expense of another
RECENT/CONTEMPORARY EXAMPLES:
From The 60th Anniversary of the UDHR: Exploring the past, Anticipating the future (2008)
WESTERN’
COUNTRIES
The US and it allies
have favoured:
CIVIL and POLITICAL RIGHTS over
Social and Economic Rights
(e.g. when dealing with Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon)
“Terrorist” groups overseas (like Hamas and Hezbollah) have had the support of local people because they provide for social needs (e.g. schools, hospitals, etc)
EASTERN’ COUNTRIES
Communist countries have favoured:
ECONOMIC WELFARE of the state’ over
Civil and Political Rights of individuals
Chinese labour camps, bans on free speech, lots of other examples of individuals having their rights denied “for the good of the country/government”
But the UDHR is really just a set of ASPIRATIONAL STATEMENTS
things to hope for and try to move towards having
As a Declaration, it was NOT BINDING under international law
It was only meant to be the beginning…

Since the UDHR got such a great reaction, the Human Rights Commission thought it would be easy enough to move on to the next phase:
MAKING A BINDING VERSION that countries would HAVE TO FOLLOW
1D Formal Statements of HR – ICCPR and ICESCR
SOME parts were easy enough because WWII had still just happened, and the details of the sick things that happened were still coming out (remember, this was before 24 hour news and the internet). So we got:
the Conventions on Genocide
the Geneva Conventions (about what’s not acceptable during wars)
the Refugee Convention
In Human Rights – An International Perspective (2008), Steven Freeland outlines some of the problems with getting binding agreements on the rest of the UDHR:
The major powers were worried about their sovereignty (especially their control over “internal” issues) would be violated;
Some of the developing countries were worried that forcing them to provide economic’ rights for their people would be either impossible, or would hold them back from becoming advanced economies (“It’s all right for you RICH countries to say that you’ll give your people jobs and welfare payments and all that – but we’re poor!”)
“Western” countries (US, etc) favoured Civil and Political rights “Eastern” countries (Soviets, etc) favoured Economic rights
The DIVORCE’ of Human Rights: The rights in the UDHR got split into TWO binding Conventions
5072743122193
UDHR
+ ICCPR
+ ICESCR
= THE INTERNATIONAL
BILL OF RIGHTS
00
UDHR
+ ICCPR
+ ICESCR
= THE INTERNATIONAL
BILL OF RIGHTS
ICCPR (“1st Generation” Human Rights) 167 countries (no Singapore, Saudi Arabia, etc)
The