An introduction to Human Rights

Document Sample
An introduction to Human Rights Powered By Docstoc
					 An introduction to
  Human Rights

The Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project

    “Humanity will not enjoy
security without development;
 it will not enjoy development
   without security; and it will
     not enjoy either without
   respect for human rights.”
                           Kofi Annan
          Former UN Secretary General
A clear definition of
  human rights?
        Yes and No:
   The development and
 interpretation of what are
 human rights (and how to
protect them) is an evolving
Yes – Human Rights are existing
laws, standards, conventions and
common practices

No – They are still evolving:
Some are aspirational & not
immediately realizable; Others
remain contested ideas
      A Family of Human Rights
1.   Civil & Political Human Rights –
     (fundamental, natural, inherent,
     ‘inalienable’ – 1st generation human
     rights): Cannot be taken away –i.e. right
     to life, liberty, justice, freedom of
2.   Economic, Social & Cultural Rights (2nd
     generation human rights): Aspirational
3.   Group Rights (3rd generation):
     Environmental & development rights).
     Some of these are contested – i.e. self
         Human Rights
          & the Law

Human Rights have evolved through
customary, natural, and international
humanitarian law
     Human Rights
      & Protection

 Protection of the State has
evolved into protection of its
      Human Rights
       & Security

Human rights were also born out
of the need to ensure peace and
     security between states.
   Human Rights &
  Humanitarian Law
 Human rights were also born
out of int’l humanitarian law –
   established largely by the
 founder of the International
    Red Cross in Geneva to
 ‘govern’ the conduct of war.
But the Second World War laid bare
 the absolute failure of the previous
 international order, conventions on
  the conduct of war, as well as the
    ability to protect minorities and
   nationalities. It directly led to the
  creation of the United Nations and
the Universal Declaration of Human
  The Universal Declaration of
 Human Rights Adopted by the
    UN General Assembly on
December 10, 1948 is said to be
  the conscience of the world.

    It is the most translated
    document in the world.
 It is the global standard and covers
  the right to life, liberty and security;
freedom from torture; the right to free
movement as well as the right to free
         expression (Article 19).

 It makes clear that all individuals
have a „birthright‟ and are not simply
 subject to the whims of the State
The Universal Declaration was
 followed by 2 legally binding

•International Covenant on Political
 and Civil Rights
•International Covenant on
 Economic, Social & Cultural
Collectively, they form the
   basis of international
 human rights protection
  and are known as the
International Bill of Rights
            State obligations
   Immediate
   Progressive realization

           The Obligation to Respect
           The Obligation to Protect
           The Obligation to Fulfill

   Non-discrimination
   International Obligations
        Human Rights

It’s the implementation stupid!

   Declarations and legally-
 binding Covenants are one
  thing – but how are rights
   monitored and properly
   The UN Human Rights
monitoring process is currently
  built mostly upon annual
 reporting (countries submit
     reports to the UN).

The latest Philippine Report to
the UN was roundly praised by
 the Philippine Government....
  ....and condemned as a
„whitewash‟ by many NGO
All UN bodies are concerned
with Human Rights – but the
main ones are:

• United Nations Commissioner
  for Human Rights
• Human Rights Council
The seven treaty monitoring bodies are:
1. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural
2. Human Rights Committee
3. Committee against Torture
4. Committee on the Elimination of Racial
5. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
   against Women
6. Committee on the Rights of the Child;
7. Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All
   Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
Many people (including many
within the UN), are looking at
    ways of improving the
        monitoring and
implementation process. The
  work of NGOs is already
    highly recognised and
 .....but many believe the
media could and should be
doing a lot more to help –
particularly those media in
     problem countries.
   Reporting for Rights

‘Where, after all, do universal human rights
begin? In small places, close to home – so
close and so small that they cannot be seen
on any maps of the world. Yet they are the
world of the individual person; the
neighborhood he lives in; the school or
college he attends; the factory, farm or office
where he works.’

                       -- Eleanor Roosevelt
The Philippine Human Rights Reporting