General Human Rights

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INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS:: 

INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS: What are they, and how can we get involved? Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights

DEFINITION: 

DEFINITION HUMAN RIGHTS are the rights that all people have by virtue of being human beings. HUMAN RIGHTS are the rights that all people have by virtue of being human beings. HUMAN RIGHTS are derived from the inherent dignity of the human person and are defined internationally, nationally and locally by various law making bodies.

Overview: 

Overview Brief History of International Human Rights* Modern Protection of Human Rights United Nations Regional Organizations Local Non-Governmental Organizations Opportunities to get involved *Source: “International Human Rights: Law, Policy and Process,” David Weissbrodt, Joan Fitzpatrick and Frank Newman (3d ed. 2001)

Brief History: 

Brief History Antiquity Code of Hammurabi Rights of Athenian citizens Medieval Magna Carta (1215) Sir Thomas Aquinas’ theory of natural rights (13th Century)

Brief History: 

Enlightenment English Declaration of the Rights of Man (1689) U.S. Declaration of Independence (1776) French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) United States Constitution and Bill of Rights (1789) Brief History

Brief History: 

Early Developments (cont.) International Committee for the Red Cross (1863) Geneva Convention (1864) Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907) League of Nations and the International Labor Organization (1919) Brief History

Brief History: 

Aftermath of World War II Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms Speech (January 6, 1941) The Atlantic Charter Between the United States and Great Britain (August 14, 1941) The Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals Creation of the United Nations (1945) Brief History

Modern Protection of International Human Rights: 

Modern Protection of International Human Rights The Preamble to the United Nations Charter states that the “Peoples of the United Nations” are 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.”

Modern Protection of International Human Rights: 

Modern Protection of International Human Rights In 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.* The Declaration enumerates civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, but the Declaration contains no provisions for monitoring or enforcement. * 48-0 with 8 abstentions (Eastern bloc, Saudi Arabia and South Africa)

Modern Protection of International Human Rights: 

Modern Protection of International Human Rights In 1966, the General Assembly adopted: The Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (and its First Optional Protocol) The Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which, together with the UDHR, are now known as the International Bill of Human Rights

Slide11: 

Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: Prohibits discrimination on the basis of “race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status” without regard to citizenship Prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (personal integrity) Prohibits slavery Limits the use of the death penalty in countries that allow it to the most serious crimes committed by persons over 18

Slide12: 

Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (cont.): Prohibits arbitrary arrest or detention Protects freedom of movement and residence Protects the right to trial, presumption of innocence, right to a lawyer, right to an appeal, freedom from self-incrimination, and freedom from double jeopardy Protects freedom of opinion and expression Protects freedom of association and assembly Public emergency exception (but torture, executions, and slavery are never permissible) Ratified by the United States in 1992

Slide13: 

Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Right of people to work and make a “decent living for themselves and their families” Right to safe and healthy working conditions Right to form trade unions with the right to strike Right of everyone to Social Security, including social insurance “widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society”

Slide14: 

Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (cont.): Right to adequate food, clothing and housing and to the continuous improvement of living conditions Right to education Right to health care Economic rights are subject to each country’s ability to provide such rights progressively as its resources permit Signed but not ratified by the United States

Modern Protection of International Human Rights: 

Modern Protection of International Human Rights In addition to the International Bill of Human Rights, the United Nations has drafted and promulgated over 80 human rights instruments: genocide racial discrimination discrimination against women refugee protection torture the rights of disabled persons the rights of the child

UN Human Rights Bodies: 

UN Human Rights Bodies Security Council General Assembly Economic and Social Council Commission on Human Rights Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights Commission on the Status of Women

UN Human Rights Bodies: 

UN Human Rights Bodies Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice International Court of Justice International Criminal Court Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (created by the General Assembly in 1993)

UN Human Rights Bodies: 

UN Human Rights Bodies Treaty Monitoring Bodies Human Rights Committee Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women Committee Against Torture Committee on the Rights of the Child Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights

Human Rights in International Law: 

Human Rights in International Law Regional Organizations and Law-Making European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950) implemented by the European Commission of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man adopted by the Organization of American States in 1948 and the American Convention on Human Rights adopted by the OAS in 1969 which are implemented by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter- American Court of Human Rights

Human Rights in International Law: 

Human Rights in International Law Regional Organizations and Law-Making (cont.) Organization of African Unity was founded in 1963 and adopted the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 1981. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights is charged with supervising the implementation of the African Charter.

Use of State and Federal Courts to Protect Human Rights: 

Use of State and Federal Courts to Protect Human Rights Congress and State Legislatures may enact legislation that specifically incorporates international law into domestic law Judicial interpretation and application of existing legislative or constitutional provisions

Local Non-Governmental Organizations: 

Local Non-Governmental Organizations Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights American Refugee Committee Center for Victims of Torture Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy University of Minnesota Human Rights Center

NGO Activities: 

NGO Activities Monitor elections and political trials Investigate human rights and conditions Analyze human rights practices in closed countries – Albania, North Korea, Saudi Arabia Identify and analyze conflicts in Chiapas and Kosovo Child slavery in Haiti; child health in Mexico, Uganda and the United States

NGO Activities: 

NGO Activities Lobby United Nations Draft model statutes Inquest procedures Forensic techniques Domestic violence laws Represent political asylum seekers Promote ratification of human rights treaties

NGO Activities: 

NGO Activities Influence Human Rights Foreign Policy Public Education Work to abolish the death penalty and represent inmates on death row Train activists in Eastern Europe and Nepal to use international human rights law to eliminate domestic violence Boycott companies that use child labor

NGO Activities: 

NGO Activities Monitor Truth and Reconciliation Commissions – Peru Our opportunities to participate in human rights issues are limited only by our imaginations

Slide28: 

2742410v1 Where Do 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 factory, farm, or office where he worked. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.” Eleanor Roosevelt, 1958