Thursday, 30 August 2012

Human Rights in a glimpse

The very genuine philosophy of Human Rights comprises the idea of protecting human being from misuse or abuse of authority power. It can be defined as a set of norms, standards, principles established with the main purpose of granting human beings certain entitlements that can not be denied, renounced neither by force not by choice and are inclinable, inalienable and non abolishable.

Human Rights are granted to people as a condition of being human beings; no other requirement needs to be met. They are meant to be “universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated”#. Its universal characteristic moves away from the political concept of citizen given by nation-states and its acceptance by nearly every state has proven them to constitute “a moral community of mankind”# transposing the frontiers of any type of political and social systems. Hence, human rights are acknowledged as one of the pillars of international system along with peace, democracy and rule of law#, and thus, it is found in any discourse on international matters.
“Human Rights” are meant to provide individuals and collectivity with a set of rules from which they have entitlements needed for a life with dignity. Their abstract nature has to be concretised through actions, policies and strategies from the primary responsible for their protection: the States. Sure then, the State holds the primary responsibility for Human Rights’ implementation, protection, respect and enforcement.

The State as a duty bearer possesses three main obligations: the duty to respect, to protect, and to fulfill the rights granted to human beings. The respect entails a negative behavior of refraining from interfering with the enjoyment of the right; the protection requires a positive behavior of enacting laws that institute mechanisms to prevent such violations by authorities in official capacity or non-state actors from occurring and if occurs, mechanisms of retribution (punitive and preventive), and the fulfillment likewise calls for active behavior to build an infrastructure placing institutions, elaborating procedures and allocating resources to enable people to enjoy their rights in full.

They are enshrined in international (for instance, Convention on the Rights of Child), regional (for instance, The African Charter on Human and people’s Rights) and national (for instance, national constitutions) human rights instruments.

In short, the systems of human rights protection can be described in three perspectives: national, regional and international.

At national level, the fundamental freedoms# and guarantees, typically, are given by pieces of national legislation. Mostly, due to their importance they are laid down on states’ constitutions once they are considered the keystone of any State.  

At regional level, regional intergovernmental organisations have come together in order to establish human rights binding instruments equipped with reporting and monitoring mechanisms for their specific regions#. The focal idea is to promote and to strengthen human rights protection and respect. The existing regional systems work concomitant with United Nations (UN) International Human Rights System. They mutually reinforce one another once as the States belong to both systems they have obligations and duties deriving from multiple sources of human rights instruments. Human Rights Protection counts at regional level with three structured and functioning systems: one for Europe, one for Africa and one for the Americas.

At international level, Human Rights protection mechanism is represented by “UN System” that carries out its functions based on charter-based bodies and treaty-based bodies and under the secretariat support and assistance of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human rights.

All systems at the different levels are integrated, sharing a common objective: the protection, promotion and respect for human rights. They are committed to advocacy, strengthening and continual improvement and development of human rights laws, mechanisms of enforcement and dissemination of human rights values.

By Giselle Pinheiro Arcoverde.

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