Human rights/Addendum

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This addendum is a continuation of the article Human rights.

Human Rights Declarations

Magna Carta (1215)

"No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled . nor will we proceed with force against him . except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice."

The United States Declaration of Independence (1776)

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen [1] (1789

"Men are born free and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions can be based only on public utility. The aim of every political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression."

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)

The first two articles of the Declaration[1] are declarations of its universality. They are followed by seventeen articles that specify rights that are now generally accepted by western democracies, and two that deal with implementation by the requirement that "Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law." (article 8) and "Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him"(article 10). Of the remaining articles, five (22 to 26) are additional "social articles" that specify rights to social security, employment and trade union membership, leisure, health and education.

The Declaration on the Right to Development (1986)

[2]

The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (1990)

The Cairo declaration [3] was signed by the member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in 1990. Article 24 of the declaration states: "All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Sharia" and article 25,states that "The Islamic Sharia is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration".

The Bangkok Declaration (1993)

The Bangkok declaration[4] was adopted by Regional Meeting for Asia of the World Conference for Human Rights in 1993. The declaration recognised that "while human rights are universal in nature, they must be considered in the context of a dynamic and evolving process of international norm-setting, bearing in mind the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds".

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action(1993)

[5].

Human Rights Instruments

Global

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

The 1948 Genocide Convention [6]

The United Nations Core Treaties on Human Rights

(the numbers of ratifications by May 2012 are shown thus [xxx])

Countries become bound to a particular treaty through ratification or accession to it. Either of these two acts signals a country’s concrete willingness to undertake the legal rights and obligations contained in a treaty. A country that has ratified or acceded to a treaty is often referred to as being ‘party to’ the treaty. Signature of a treaty by a country is an indication that the country intends to examine the treaty to determine its position towards it before ratification. While a signature does not bind a country to a treaty, it does result in an obligation to refrain from acts which might defeat the object and purpose of the treaty. Reservations, understandings, and declarations (RUDs) allow a country to exempt itself from certain obligations with which state parties are normally expected to comply. Status by instrument
Ratification by country

Regional

The European Convention on Human Rights 1950

The Convention is legally binding on the 47 out of the 51 European countries who are members of the Council of Europe. It includes qualified rights to life, liberty and security, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, expression, assembly and association; and an unqualified prohibition of torture. The rights content is thus similar to that of the Universal Declaration, except for its economic and social rights. Unlike the Universal Declaration, it guarantees remedies against abuse and creates the European Court of Human Rights for that purpose. Action to remedy abuse can also be taken by the European Commission, using its infringement procedure.

The European Social Charter 1965

The Social Charter is the counterpart of the European Convention on Human Rights in the field of economic and social rights, except that it is not concerned with complaints by individuals. The European Committee of Social rights monitors compliance with the European Social Charter on the basis of periodic reports by member governments. Its findings are forwarded to the Governmental Committee, which is responsible for ensuring that each State takes the necessary measures to remedy the situation

The American Convention on Human Rights 1969

The Convention is similar in content to the European Convention, except that it can be interpreted as forbidding abortion. It has been ratified by only 24 out of the 35 countries of the American Continent (excluding the United States and Canada).

The African Charter on Human Rights 1981

Like the Universal Declaration . but unlike the European and American conventions, the Charter provides for economic, social, and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights. Unlike the European and American conventions, it recognizes the rights of groups such as the aged and the infirm.

National

The United States Bill of Rights

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits Congress from infringing freedom of speech, of religion, of the press, of peaceable assembly, or the right to petition the government. The Bill of Rights also has provisions concerning the fairness of the legal process, including the right to freedom from "unreasonable searches and seizures", the right to trial by jury, the right to refuse to incriminate oneself, and the prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishment". The The United States Civil Rights Act 1957 (since amended by Civil Rights Commission Amendments Act of 1994) created the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The Commission has no power to enforce federal or state civil rights laws but assists applicants by referring their complaints to the appropriate civil rights enforcement agencies.

The United Kingdom Human Rights Act 1998

The Human Rights Act incorporates into UK law the rights and freedoms set out in the European Convention on Human Rights, and enables British citizens to seek remedies for breaches of their human rights in UK courts. Section 3(1) of the Act requires that "So far as it is possible to do so, ... legislation must be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with the Convention rights", and judges are required to take account of the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. Section 4 of the act requires a court to issue a declaration of incompatibility if it finds the relevant legislation to be incompatible with the European Convention. (There had been 27 declarations by April 2011[7] of which 8 were overturned by the House of Lords/Supreme Court and the remainder were met by changes to legislation). The passage of the Act does not affect parliamentary supremacy, nor the right of British citizens to seek remedies in the European court.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The Charter forms part 1 of the Constitution Act, 1982. It affords Canadian citizens constitutional rights broadly similar to those of the European Convention on Human Rights, that are enforceable in the Canadian courts.

The Australian Human Rights Act

The Protection of Civil Righta Acts of India

Human rights organisations

United Nations human rights bodies

Charter-based bodies

Charter-based bodies are derived from the Charter of the United Nations]. They hold broad human rights mandates, and take action based on majority voting. They include the Human Rights Council (replacing the former Human Rights Council) and the Universal Periodic Review.

Treaty-based bodies

Treaty-based bodies derive their existence from specific legal instruments, and their mandates are confined to issues contained in those instruments. They base their decision-making on consensus. The Human Rights Committee that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the nine other "Treaty Bodies", each of which monitors implementation of one of the core treaties.

National organisations

Non-government organisations

Cases

Human rights progress

The United Nations Universal Review reports for individual countries are available on the United Nations Human Rights by Country websites. They contain, where available, information supplied by the national government, by the Treaty Bodies, and by Stakeholders (non-government human rights organisations). More detailed information at the country level is available in the Universal Human Rights Index, which details compliance with specific human rights treaties. This data indicates that there has often been substantial progress toward the implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but that there are very many gaps in the available information, and many reports of human rights abuses . The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recently started developing an IT-based performance monitoring system [8], consisting of records of the number of countries achieving specific human rights targets. The early results of that system are available as the results table[9] of the OHCHR report 2011[10].

References