Human Rights - Definition: • “Inalienable and inviolable rights of all members of the human family.” • “The rights that one has simply because one is human …irrespective of any rights or duties one may (or may not have) as citizens, members of families, workers, or parts of any public or private organization or association … They are universal rights.”
Sources of Human Rights: • Philosophers, politicians, and religious prophets • The British Magna Carta (1215) • The English Bill of Rights (1689) • The US Declaration of Independence (1776) • The US Constitution (1789) • The US Bill of Rights (1791)
The purpose of the United Nations is to bring all nations of the world together to work for peace and development, based on the principles of justice, human dignity and the well-being of all people. It affords the opportunity for countries to balance global interdependence and national interests when addressing international problems. The United Nations (U.N.) and Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the UDHR) • Approved by the UN General Assembly on December 10th, 1948 • The UDHR has been updated, expanded, and elaborated on multiple times (over 200 documents) • Additions or elaborations on the UDHR are referred to as conventions, treaties, or covenants.
Debate in the UN General Assembly Majority vote by the member states of the UN General Assembly Signature of member states ratifying a convention Member states design, pass, and enforce laws to ensure the observance of the convention How does a convention become an International Law?
THE UDHR: Three Generations (classes) • First Generation – Civil and Political Rights (articles 2-21 of the UDHR) • Second Generation – Social and Economic Rights (articles 22-26 of the UDHR) • Third Generation – Solidarity Rights among Countries (articles 27-30)
THE UDHR: ARTICLE 1 • “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
The First Generation of Human Rights (Articles 2-21) • Originated in 17th – 18th Century Western tradition • Based on the rights obtained by the people as a result of revolutions in France, Britain, and the United States • US views them as civil rights (ex: Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security (the UDHR, Article 2))
The Second Generation of Human Rights (Articles 22-26) • Originated in Western socialist tradition • Viewed as a balance to Western individualism, capitalism, and imperialism • Focus on social equality and government’s responsibility to its citizens. (ex: Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages (the UDHR, Article 26))
The Third Generation of Human Rights: (Articles 27-28) • Rights that require the cooperation of all countries. • Represents the poorer countries hope and demand for the global redistribution of opportunity and well-being (ex: Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized (the UDHR, Article 28)
Universalism The UN Charter guarantees human rights The rights apply to all individuals, regardless of their citizenship or status Example: Freedom of thought Relativism The UN Charter guarantees state sovereignty Expectations of human rights are judged in relation to local culture/traditions Example: Child marriage Human Rights:Universalismvs. Relativism
First Tension of Globalization!!! • Individual Choice vs. Societal Choice
Importance: Provides world forum Provides international standards Promotes knowledge and support Protects, implements and enforces human rights worldwide by various means Limitations: Enforcement of human rights in individual countries State-sovereignty UN – not a world government; depends on its member-states (Veto power in the Security Council) $ for UN operations THE U.N. and Human Rights: Importance and Limitations
Facts: Over 400,000 people have been killed; over 2 mil. displaced Central government of Sudan implicated in genocide China (UN veto power) limits any serious impact on the Sudanese government Limitations of the UN: Brief Example: Sudan (Darfur)
The International Criminal Court (the ICC) • Established in 1998 • Location: The Hague, Netherlands • The ICC “is the first every permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to promote the rule of law and ensure that the gravest international crimes do not go unpunished.” • By the end of 2004, over 100 countries had ratified the ICC statute. • President Clinton signed it, but the U.S. Senate did not ratify it. President G.W.Bush “nullified” the US signature.
Human Rights Outside of the UN System • Regional Human Rights organizations (ex: The European Commission of Human Rights; the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights) • Non-governmental Human Rights organizations (ex: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Cultural Survival)
Human Rights and the “War on Terror” • State security vs. individual rights *Antiterrorism laws (ex: indefinite detention at Guantanamo) *Torture and “outsourcing” interrogation *Aid to regimes with poor human rights records • Dealing with state and non-state actors
Human Rights: Women’s Rights • Rape as an instrument of war • Rape and spread of HIV/AIDS • Trafficking of women • Migration and violence • Honor killings • Lack of access to educational, legal, and economic opportunities
Human Rights: Food for Thought • Which is more important: state sovereignty or universal human rights? • Should the United States do more to promote and protect human rights around the world? • What can you do to promote human rights? Should you do anything at all?