An introduction to Human Rights The Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project www.rightsreporting.net
“ 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 process
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
Civil & Political Human Rights –(fundamental, natural, inherent, ‘inalienable’ – 1 st generation human rights): Cannot be taken away –i.e. right to life, liberty, justice, freedom of expression
Economic, Social & Cultural Rights (2 nd generation human rights): Aspirational
Group Rights (3 rd generation): Environmental & development rights). Some of these are contested – i.e. self determination
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 People
Human Rights & Security Human rights were also born out of the need to ensure peace and security between states.
Human Rights & International 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 Rights.
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 Covenants
International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights
International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights).
Collectively, they form the basis of international human rights protection and are known as the International Bill of Rights
The Obligation to Respect
The Obligation to Protect
The Obligation to Fulfill
Human Rights It’s the implementation stupid! Declarations and legally-binding Covenants are one thing – but how are rights monitored and properly guaranteed?
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 groups.
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:
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Human Rights Committee
Committee against Torture
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
Committee on the Rights of the Child;
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 appreciated......
.....but many believe the media could and should be doing a lot more to help –particularly those media in problem countries.
‘ 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 Reporting for Rights
The Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project www.rightsreporting.net