<br />The first international texts relating to what we should now call a human rights problem were formulated at the beginning of the nineteenth century.<br /> The problem arising in this era was slavery. Shocking as it now seems, the institution of slavery was generally legal under national law at the end of the eighteenth century ; it remained legal in the United States until 1863.<br />
At the turn of the century a humanitarian movement, largely inspired by Wilberforce, sought to prohibit it internationally. Since it was not possible to secure the immediate liberation of slaves in legal servitude in other countries, the first step was to secure the abolition of the slave trade, so as to prevent any increase in the number of slaves. The slave trade was prohibited in the British colonies in 1807. <br /> The institution of slavery was also abolished in France, and by the Treaty of Paris of 1814 the British and French governments agreed to cooperate in the suppression of the traffic in slaves. This undertaking was generalized and accompanied by a solemn condemnation of the practice by the major European States at the Congress of Vienna in 1815<br />
There were more developments after the Second World War. Article 4 of the Universal Declaration reads: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.“<br />
The second development by which international law began to be concerned with human rights - or, as some would prefer to say, a closely related subject - was the evolution of humanitarian law. <br />International humanitarian law is based in the Geneva Conventions, and represents a set of rules that seeks to save lives and alleviate suffering of combatants and noncombatants during armed conflict. The goal is to protect life and human dignity during armed conflict and to prevent or reduce the suffering and destruction caused by war. <br /> The Red Cross and the red crescent have historically played a critical role in the development of international humanitarian law.<br />
The third development where by international law came to be concerned with the rights of individuals relates to the protection of minorities.<br />The arrangements for protecting the new minorities took three main forms:<br />First, there were five special treaties on minorities with the allied or newly created States. <br />Secondly, chapters on the rights of the minorities within their borders were included in the peace treaties with the ex-enemy States.<br />Thirdly, certain States made declarations before the Council of the League of Nations as a condition of their admission to the League.<br />
Generally speaking, the various arrangements for the protection of the rights of minorities provided for equality before the law in regard to civil and political rights, freedom of religion, the right of members of the minorities to use their own language, and the right to maintain their own religious and educational establishments.<br />It was also usual to provide for teaching in the language of the minority in State schools in districts where the minority constituted a considerable proportion of the population.<br />Moreover, it was recognized that these various provisions protecting the rights of minorities constituted “obligations of international concern”, which were placed under the guarantee of the League of Nations and could not be modified without the consent of the Council of the League.<br />
The LON was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended World War I, and it was the precursor to the United Nations. The League was the first permanent international security organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. At its greatest extent from 28 September 1934 to 23 February 1935, it had 58 members. <br />The League's primary goals, as stated in its Covenant, included preventing war through collective security, disarmament, and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration.<br /> After a number of notable successes and some early failures in the 1920s, the League ultimately proved incapable of preventing aggression by the Axis powers ( German ,Italy, Japan) in the 1930s. Germany withdrew from the League, soon to be followed by many other aggressive powers. The onset of World War II showed that the League had failed its primary purpose, which was to avoid any future world war.<br /> The United Nations replaced it after the end of the war and inherited a number of agencies and organizations founded by the League.<br />
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) <br />is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . It commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial. As of December 2010, the Covenant had 72 signatories and 167 parties [<br />The ICCPR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.<br />The ICCPR is monitored by the Human Rights Committee (a separate body to the Human Rights Council, which reviews regular reports of States parties on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially one year after acceding to the Covenant and then whenever the Committee requests (usually every four years). The Committee meets in Geneva or New York and normally holds three sessions per year<br />
As it is well known, the Charter of the United Nations contains a number of references to the promotion of human rights. <br />The first is in the Preamble, which reads:<br />"We the peoples of the United Nations, determined ….to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small . . .have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims."<br /> <br />
Then, among the purposes of the United Nations set out in Article I , is “to co-operate. . . in promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all”. <br />The most important provisions’ are probably those contained in Articles 55 and 56 of the Charter.<br /> Article 55 provides that the United Nations shall promote “universal respect for, all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion”; while in Article 56 “all members pledge themselves to take joint and separate action in co-operation with the Organization for the achievement of the purposes set forth in Article 55”.<br />Other references in the Charter are in Article 13, which authorizes the general assembly to make studies and recommendations about human rights, Article 62, which contains a somewhat similar provision relating to the economic and social council, article 68 , which requires the council to set up a commissions in the economic and social fields and for the promotion of human rights and article 76 , which makes the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all ,one of the basic objectives of the trusteeship system.<br /> <br />
Part III of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights sets out the rights which the Covenant is designed to protect. They are as <br />follows: <br />article 6 – the right to life <br /> 7- Freedom from torture and inhuman treatment. 8- Freedom from slavery and forced labor<br />9- The right to liberty and security. 10- The right of detained persons to be treated with humanity. 11- Freedom from imprisonment for debt. 12- Freedom of movement and of choice of residence. 13- Freedom of aliens from arbitrary expulsion. 14- The right to a fair trial. 15- Protection against retroactivity of the criminal law. 16- The right to recognition as a person before the law.<br /> 17- The right to privacy. 18- Freedom of thought, conscience and religion. <br />
19- Freedom of opinion and of expression. 20- Prohibition of propaganda for war and of incitement to national, racial or religious hatred. 21- The right of assembly. 22- Freedom of association. 23- The right to marry and found a family. 24- The right of the child. 25- political rights. 26- Equality before the law. 27- The rights of minorities. <br />This is an extensive list. <br />The number of rights Included is greater than in the Universal Declaration or the European Convention. <br />
It may be observed that the rights set out in the Covenant are generally defined in greater detail and include the following which were not contained in the Universal Declaration of human rights:<br /> 10- The right of detained persons to be treated with humanity. <br />11- Freedom from imprisonment for debt. 20- Prohibition of propaganda for war and of incitement to national, racial or religious hatred. 24- The right of the child.<br />27- The rights of minorities<br />On the other hand , the right of property , which was included in article 17 of the universal declaration ,is not included in either covenant .<br />This was it proved impossible to reach agreement between countries of widely different political philosophies on a definition of this right.<br /> <br />
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