Human Rights In The World Community Issues And Action Pdf

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From environmental protests in Asia to debates about the nature of sustainable development in New York, and from concern about the welfare of cross-border migrants to growing interest in the power of technology to support freedom of speech — human rights are never far from the spotlight. Through its work on contemporary and emerging human rights issues, the Group looks to help policy-makers and policy-influencers understand the dynamics of a particular issue and its possible evolution and implications, as well as provide policy recommendations thereon. This project looks at the causes and consequences of inequalities related to a single social right: the right to education.

Richard Pierre Claude and Burns H. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, Ranee K. Panjabi , Memorial University.

New and emerging human rights issues

On 10 December , the United Nations led worldwide celebrations to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Six decades ago, the international community affirmed that the strength of shared ideas and a common vision of respectful and peaceful coexistence could prevail over brutality, hatred and destruction. Having risen from the sorrow and shame of atrocities perpetrated in the course of the Second World War, the Declaration represented, and continues to represent, one of humanity's most shining achievements.

It enshrines the hope for a better world, where aspirations to freedom and well-being converge. The framers of the Declaration, who came from diverse countries and cultures, ultimately succeeded in delivering the first universal articulation of human rights and entitlements that make dignity, justice and equality possible for everyone everywhere.

The Universal Declaration envisaged a world in which every man, woman and child lives free from hunger and is protected from oppression, violence and discrimination, with benefits of housing, health care, education and opportunity. This encapsulates the global culture of human rights that we strive towards, and should therefore be a unifying rather than a divisive force within and among all cultures.

Stemming from the formidable intuition and early articulation of the Declaration's framers, the discourse and action on human rights has subsequently, and with increased sharpness, highlighted the fundamental elements that emanate from the universality of human rights.

Thus, human rights law and advocacy emphasized our inherent human commonality, as well as the indivisible character of rights. They underscored the primary duty of States to give effect to the full spectrum of rights, including the responsibility of the international community and its institutions to foster a culture of solidarity and bolster implementation capacities, so as to give full effect to those rights.

Inherent universality and indivisibility of rights The diverse group of the Declaration's framers insisted on our kinship in rights, our common claim to a life of dignity and our right to count and be counted, irrespective of ancestry, gender, colour, status and creed. The Declaration was crucial in envisaging freedom and entitlement as mutually reinforcing sides of the same coin of human aspirations. It unequivocally linked destitution and exclusion with discrimination and unequal access to resources and opportunities.

The framers also understood that social and cultural stigmatization precluded full participation in public life, including the ability to influence policies and obtain justice. In other words, they made it clear that all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights were not only universal, but also indivisible and interrelated in their application? This means that one set of rights cannot be enjoyed fully without the other. I bear witness to the interlocking characteristics of universal human rights and the perils of not recognizing their indivisibility.

I grew up in Durban under a system of apartheid that institutionalized racial discrimination by denying equal rights and full citizenship to all those who were not white. But South Africa's experience shows that with political will, international engagement and a commitment to act, discrimination, inequality and intolerance can be overcome and that political and civil rights can be affirmed against great odds.

I also know first-hand the benefits of economic, social and cultural rights, including access to education, as well as the effects of obstacles to such access.

I was 16 when I wrote an essay about the role of South African women to educate children on human rights. When the essay was published, members of my community raised funds to send a promising but impecunious young woman to university. Despite their efforts and goodwill, I almost did not make it as a lawyer, because during the apartheid regime everything and everyone was segregated.

However, I persevered. After graduation I sought an internship, which was mandatory under the law, but as a black woman I had to fight against multilayered discrimination and barriers.

Finally, a black lawyer agreed to take me on board, conditional on my promise not to become pregnant. I also started a law practice on my own, not out of choice but because nobody would employ a black woman lawyer. In short, it is personal experience as much as conviction which prompts me to reaffirm that political and civil rights, as well as economic, cultural and social rights, depend closely on one another.

Let me simply reflect on education, its value in securing work, its positive impact on political and social participation, including access to health care, and the decisive role it plays in achieving equality between women and men.

It follows that violations of one right enfeeble all rights and engender cascading repercussions. Currently, there is a growing understanding of how the components of human welfare and dignity, that is, human rights, development and security, are intrinsically interlinked. Today, a wide body of international laws "spanning from human rights law to humanitarian, refugee and criminal law" enhances fundamental protection in times of war, peace and emergency.

No vital set of rights has been overlooked. The recent International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, and now the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights testify to the fact that the creation of norms is an ongoing process that remains open to refinement and new ideas, and innovative responses to current and emerging challenges.

The instrumental importance of human rights principles, such as equality, participation, accountability and the rule of law, is now widely accepted. Information and the freedom to organize and openly express views are vital for good policy-making and measurable implementation. Socio-economic rights are critical for the meaningful exercise of these freedoms, and gender equality has also been an indispensable precondition to maximizing and propagating education, development and the improvement of communities worldwide.

Yet, the universality of human rights is often questioned, more often by duty-bearers than rights-holders. Such skepticism does not often reflect frank conceptual objections to the challenge of universality, but is rather a means for some States to avoid giving effect to the whole set of human rights.

However, I am persuaded that all people share the same basic ideas about what is needed to live a dignified life, free from want and fear. While the promotion and implementation of human rights standards demand an awareness of context, the universality of the essential values and aspirations embodied in these commitments is beyond doubt. Attacks on the universality of rights often stand as barriers to human rights implementation.

Some critics maintain that the Universal Declaration went too far in promoting the freedoms and values of liberal traditions. Others hold that its framers did not go far enough and that liberty occupies a higher plane than material welfare. The truth is that the Declaration is not merely congruent with some customs and foreign to other cultures; speaking to our common humanity, it drew its principles from many diverse traditions and made them more robust through a uniform codification.

The need for universal implementation However, for all the solemn commitments and normative advances, serious implementation gaps remain. Impunity, armed conflict, discrimination and authoritarian rule have not been defeated. Regrettably, human rights are at times sidestepped to promote short-sighted security agendas.

And, lamentably, a trade-off between justice and peace is often erroneously invoked when societies emerge from conflict and combatants return to their communities. Poverty, discrimination based on various grounds, such as race, ethnicity, gender, disability, health conditions or sexual orientation, and human rights violations occurring in the context of mass movements of people, remain of the gravest concern.

As we continue to progress in setting international standards, we should never lose sight of the fact that for individuals and communities around the world these standards matter the most at the national level. Renewed efforts are needed to give effect to human rights on the ground. An indispensable first step is for States that have not already done so to ratify and unreservedly commit to the implementation of all international human rights treaties.

In addition to absorbing international standards into the domestic legal systems, other necessary elements conducive to the respect of human rights include an independent judicial and legislative branch and national human rights institutions.

The impartial scrutiny undertaken by these institutions, as well as the media and other civil society organizations, is essential for ensuring accountability for actions taken or omitted.

Yet, interpretation of international human rights law is not always uniform, with different approaches emerging to enforce human rights norms. Authoritative interpretations and assessments by independent mechanisms, such as treaty bodies, special procedures or regional human rights courts, provide the best guidance. However, there is no escaping the fact that it is the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

To this end, Governments should use all their available resources fairly and equitably. Particularly in countries transitioning from violent conflict to peace, the judicial protection of economic, social, and cultural rights is of great strategic significance. The rights of minorities, women and the vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized groups, including their rights to access justice, restitution and compensation, must be safeguarded.

I also wish to point out that any comprehensive strategy to promote the universal implementation of human rights should include a human rights education component. By nurturing values and reinforcing attitudes which uphold the Universal Declaration's goals, human rights education underpins the common responsibility of actualizing those rights in every community. Such education helps rights-holders identify and address their needs and seek solutions consistent with international standards.

Let me posit that, far from being a mere idealistic aspiration, the universal implementation of human rights is in the best interest of all States. And it is in the self-interest of States to ensure that their neighbours respect human rights as well.

Repression and hardship often prompt those who have the means and the ability to abandon their country to seek better life elsewhere. This leads to depletion of talent and resources "both human and social capital" which invariably exact a heavy price, not only on the lives of those directly involved, but also on the development prospects of the country they are leaving.

Refugees fleeing war and devastation can even destabilize neighbouring countries. Moreover, when persons are internally displaced, entire communities and livelihoods are destroyed. If good governance and respect for rights are lacking, the purpose and cohesion of a nation are undermined. The consequences of such failures often persist long after normalcy is restored. Correcting them often requires considerable investment and resources on the part of the country involved, as well as the international community.

Global interdependence and solidarity Perhaps nothing exemplifies more vividly the need to pull together resources than new or resurgent challenges to human rights. These include the recent food emergencies, the ongoing financial crises, climate change, migration and terrorism. However, century-old scourges, such as racial and gender discrimination, also continue to demand more focused and incisive collective action.

Let us make no mistake: the luckiest among us, those who are spared the most negative effects of disaster, cannot turn a blind eye from the cascading effects of abuse and indifference on each occupant of our global village.

Rights or their violations, as well as neglect of the obligations that rights engender, hold the whole world in solidarity and responsibility. Blatant examples of the global perils posed by long-neglected vulnerabilities have emerged in the course of the recent food and financial crises.

A scarcity of affordable food and a lack of means of sustenance, including access to credit, have been more acute for individuals, families and communities who had been victims of deep-rooted practices of exclusion and discrimination.

Upheavals of such magnitude are also likely to condemn whole generations to abject poverty if structural causes rooted in human rights violations are not addressed. A failure to empower vulnerable groups to claim their rights and the enforcement of repressive policies aimed at gagging protest altogether further compound the predicament of the marginalized. Through a human rights lens, we must put corrective measures in place. These should include not only immediate relief but also fair policies on land ownership, access to credit and basic services, equitable access to other productive resources and public policy safety nets, as well as the creation of vehicles and channels to publicize needs, denounce abuse and obtain redress.

A good starting point towards achieving these measures would be to heed the UN Secretary-General's appeal to do more and faster in meeting the Millennium Development Goals and ensure that these goals are pursued in concert with human rights. One of the "added values" of the human rights approach to poverty reduction and development, which the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights OHCHR champions and advocates at every opportunity, resides in providing a framework of institutions and norms to help reduce disparities and foster cooperation.

This approach helps mediate conflicting claims that inevitably arise through development processes. Indeed, human rights norms provide an objective set of minimum standards that help us to understand who has been marginalized, or even forgotten, in the process of creating social change and development. Climate change is another topic of global impact that has often been tackled without the benefit of a human rights component in international responses.

However, climate-related challenges also pose a direct threat to a wide range of universally recognized human rights, such as the rights to life, food, water, health and adequate housing. The consequences of calamitous weather conditions are already visible in many parts of the world. A human rights approach compels us to look at the people whose lives are most adversely affected. It provides the legal rationale and grounds to advocate the integration of human rights obligations into policies and programmes that counter the negative effects of the environment.

It links the assessment of critical vulnerabilities, which are deliberately or negligently overlooked, with accountability for acts of commission and omission on the part of States. Similarly, migration is another major human rights challenge that requires an integrated approach. The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families provides a good basis for shaping policies that are coherent across national borders and respectful of migrants' rights in both the receiving and sending countries.

I strongly encourage all UN Member States to ratify this important instrument, as effective responses to the challenges of migration require uniform standards from which to build concerted action on the part of both receiving and sending countries. We must also spare no effort to address human trafficking, a phenomenon that is often unduly conflated with migratory flows. Trafficking represents a multi-billion dollar industry that commodifies human beings and is antithetical to human rights and humanity at its core.

Human Rights Quarterly

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is generally agreed to be the foundation of international human rights law. Adopted in , the UDHR has inspired a rich body of legally binding international human rights treaties. It continues to be an inspiration to us all whether in addressing injustices, in times of conflicts, in societies suffering repression, and in our efforts towards achieving universal enjoyment of human rights. It represents the universal recognition that basic rights and fundamental freedoms are inherent to all human beings, inalienable and equally applicable to everyone, and that every one of us is born free and equal in dignity and rights. Whatever our nationality, place of residence, gender, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status, the international community on December 10 made a commitment to upholding dignity and justice for all of us. Over the years, the commitment has been translated into law, whether in the forms of treaties, customary international law, general principles, regional agreements and domestic law, through which human rights are expressed and guaranteed. Indeed, the UDHR has inspired more than 80 international human rights treaties and declarations, a great number of regional human rights conventions, domestic human rights bills, and constitutional provisions, which together constitute a comprehensive legally binding system for the promotion and protection of human rights.

International human rights law IHRL is the body of international law designed to promote human rights on social, regional, and domestic levels. As a form of international law, international human rights law are primarily made up of treaties , agreements between sovereign states intended to have binding legal effect between the parties that have agreed to them; and customary international law. Other international human rights instruments , while not legally binding, contribute to the implementation, understanding and development of international human rights law and have been recognized as a source of political obligation. The relationship between international human rights law and international humanitarian law is disputed among international law scholars. This discussion forms part of a larger discussion on fragmentation of international law.


Ranee K. L. Panjabi, Human Rights in the World Community: Issues and Action. Eds. Richard Pierre Claude and Burns H. Weston. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


International human rights law

Global human rights and development GHRAD Human rights and development aims converge in many instances and are beneficial only to the government and not the people although there can be conflict between their different approaches. Today, [ when? Historically, the "minority clauses" guaranteeing civil and political rights and religious and cultural toleration to minorities were significant acts emerging from the peace process of World War I relating to a peoples rights to self-determination.

On 10 December , the United Nations led worldwide celebrations to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Six decades ago, the international community affirmed that the strength of shared ideas and a common vision of respectful and peaceful coexistence could prevail over brutality, hatred and destruction. Having risen from the sorrow and shame of atrocities perpetrated in the course of the Second World War, the Declaration represented, and continues to represent, one of humanity's most shining achievements.

Human rights in the world community: issues and action

Skip to content. Rule of Law Initiative. Enhancing access to justice and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, including women, children and marginalized populations, are among the principal aims of ABA ROLI. ABA ROLI implements targeted strategies to promote human rights worldwide while simultaneously applying human rights and gender perspectives across all its programs and practice areas, in keeping with a general human rights-based approach to legal development.

Please choose whether or not you want other users to be able to see on your profile that this library is a favorite of yours. Finding libraries that hold this item The great strength of this iconic volume lies in its explicit recognition of their multiple dimensions-stretching across philosophy, politics, economics, and the law.

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