This human rights record or to face

This is now a new factor in international relations and has a real influence on public opinion. It has been noted that democracy is the only governmental system where people can except that human rights will be provided in law and violations, if any, will get redressed. By its very nature a democracy provides freedom of information and the media in democratic societies are forever investigating human rights issue in non-democratic countries. This forces dictatorial regimes to either improve their human rights record or to face international criticism, including that of the United Nations.

Human Rights has been a big issue since the end of the World War II, yet there have been many countries where human rights have not been adequately applied. In some countries men are still treated badly. This is true not only because there are so many more people in the world today, it is also true in terms of the World’s population left abused. During 1980 (regarded as a decade of democratic renewal) there was a good deal of democratization in many countries of the world, although the then Soviet Union grabbed its neighbour Afghanistan and blocked the introduction of human rights in that country. There were numerous other events which jeopardized the spread of democracy the civil war in Vietnam, the homicidal mania of Islamic fundamentalists in Iran, the Chinese takeover of Tribet, continuing elimination of the Khmer people by Vietnam’s occupation army, counting the work of Khemer Rouge which it supposedly had put and end to. There were inter-tribal massacres in Burundi.

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There was in Iraq, lot of cruelty carried out by the Saddam Hussein regime on common people before and after the Gulf War of 1390-91.There were hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian deaths due to families deliberately provoked by the regime in place. This led to forced migrations of people. The above were clear cases of crimes against humanity.

These were acute violations of human rights. Articles 1-20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights cover rights which could be applied immediately, everywhere, for they bear no relation to given levels of development. They include protection from arbitrary arrest and detention and forced emigration. They prohibit slavery and torture. They protect private property and insist on fair trials. They condemn execution or imprisonment for one’s opinions; they insist on the right to travel freely and to choose one’s place of residence. They condemn discrimination. They state the right of associations, as well as the right not to join an association as a condition for employment.

The Declaration of Human Rights states in its preamble; “the member-states of the united Nations are committed to insure, in cooperation with the UN, the universal and effective respect of the human rights and fundamental liberties,” Surely, a country can refer to the right of non­interference in its internal affairs to refuse to answer questions on its human rights record. But then, such a country also ought to refuse the Declaration and thereby lose the advantage of UN membership. A member ought to be excluded from membership if it violates the human rights repeatedly.

However, only a vote in the General Assembly can cause a number to be removed. But since many states continue to abuse human rights and even routinely engage in crimes against humanity, why should they vote against their own standards of behaviour? As a matter of fact one nice thing about the UN is that it permits many governments to enjoy democracy in their international relations, even though they deny democracy to their own subjects. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted in 1948 is not obligatory. It is only a border interpretation of the UN charter, which was adopted in 1945. But if it was intended to be voluntary, it would not have been necessary to sign the Declaration to join the UN.

It should not have been allowable to sign it with the intention of violating it. The UN would have the include two kinds of members, those who had not. The latter would not have taken part in debates and votes on matters of human rights. This would have made things more honest. As soon as the United Nations, in the name of the international human rights policy.

At the United Nations, the debate on human rights was transferred from rights to human goals came to be called rights. The economic, social and cultural goals were such that were difficult to reach. As to the political goals, they were avoided along with basic human rights.

Yet Article 21 of the Declaration stipulates unambiguously that “the will of the people is the foundation of public authorities” and this will “can be expressed only by universal suffrage with secret ballots”. The heart of UN character is the goal of a democratic world. However, the UN has evolved into a forum of non-democratic nations, which are in the minority.

The fight for the people’s political rights seems to have been abandoned as fast as the right for the fundamental human rights of individual. Should the complete equality between the citizens of a country and for that matter for all men everywhere, be discussed at the UN of the same level, and viewed as having the same quality and urgency, ass the right to move around freely, to express one’s opinions, to have a say in one’s country’s policies by way of representative institution? The democratic nations today have put into practice increasingly elaborate to promote equality in fact as well as law- or at least to lessen inequalities. But it is still the case that there must be a qualitative difference between rights that can be put into practice, without delay, and objectives which requires a certain level of material development if they are to be attained. The rights to “housing” and “education” for example, cannot be decreed abstractly, but require a certain economic and cultural development founded on the accumulation of many specific conditions. These are not things that can take place right way, as can real political and human rights. To be realistic, a goal of rising standards of living must be based on policy choices, but not fundamental rights, Let us turn back to the idea of democracy. Democracy means the “people’s rule”. This usually has been held to be synonymous with freedom because, the people took power away from the monarchs or dictators or oligarchs or bureaucrats.

But the concept of democracy, on its own terms is not identical to the concept of liberty, respect for the rights of man, of the human conscience. Something more is needed: a guarantee that democratic power will not violate the fundamental rights of individuals. Can a single standard of human rights principle of the legitimacy of political authority, be set for all of humanity without destroying traditional culture? The very question seems to tell us, how far we are for answering it, and how much indeed it represents a goal which in the foreseeable future is unattainable. But for our own mental clarity and political well-being, we should guard against making lofty “Universal” declarations on human rights so long as we are not prepared to enforce them.


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