3.2. Human Rights Agenda (2016)Apunte Inglés
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3.2. Human Rights Agenda
3.2.1. General Background
• Until WW2, human rights had seldom been a legitimate international concern, except in
exceptional cases (e.g. abolition of slavery). In the past, the treatment of citizens regarding
human rights was regarded as part of a state's sovereignty.
• Following the Holocaust and WW2, human rights became an issue of international legal and political agendas, as shown by the adoption of international standards: - UDHR (1948) - International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (1966).
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
3.2.2. Main Features of Human Rights I.
Universal: they apply to everyone, everywhere although this has been subjected to debate.
II. Indivisible: they are linked to a holistic vision of human dignity; neither states nor individuals can choose to focus on "only some rights".
III. Interdependent: different rights may contribute to give meaning to others ( e.g. right to education contributes to freedom of expression, etc). Every right may contribute to the exercise of other rights.
IV. They require different roles by states that must "respect, protect and fulfil" - something which is particularly visible as regards "division" between civil / political rights vs. economic / social / cultural rights.
3.2.3. Perspective of Human Rights as an International Regime The global human rights regime is based on strong and widely accepted principles and norms but weak mechanisms of international decision-making and implementation: • International norms include the aforementioned international standards (UDHR, ICCPR, ICESCR, etc.) • International decision-making / implementation mechanisms include UN bodies, periodic reviews, experts, etc. which can give opinions and encourage compliance but not oblige.
Decision-making and implementation thus depend mainly on national mechanisms • Existence of some regional regimes (e.g. those under the framework of the Council of Europe), although they also tend to be weak.
• As in some other regimes, non-state actors (particularly NGOs) play an important role here - as advocates or "watchdogs" of human rights, using legitimacy and discourse generated by international norms and often seeking collaboration between internal and external pressure.
3.2.4. Ratification vs Compliance Marta Busquets IPS 2016 Most human rights standards have been ratified by a large part of countries but compliance can be questioned.
Status of ratification of major international HR standards: A. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: 168 State Parties.
B. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: 164 State Parties.
C. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms if Discrimination against Women (CEDAW): 159 State Parties D. Convention against Torture: 159 State Parties.
E. Convention on the Rights of the Child: 196 State Parties. *The unique state not ratifying is the US.
*UDHR is not included because it does not need ratification, it has a declaratory nature.
However… compliance according to the Amnesty International Annual Report 2015/2016: • 113 countries restricted freedom of expression.
• 122 countries tortured or ill-treated people.
• 55% of countries conducted unfair trials.
• 30 countries illegally forced refugees back to places where they faced danger.
3.2.5. The Role of Regional Bodies I.
Some regional (i.e. continental) bodies have historically played an important role in the promotion of human rights. The Council of Europe and its European Convention on HRs (1950); see also some initiatives by the OAS (OEA), e.g. InterAmerican Court of Human Rights.
II. Not all regional bodies have been so active, and some tensions between regional and universal human rights bodies have emerged.
III. In any case, regional regimes remain weak.
Marta Busquets IV. Not to be confused with regional (i.e.
"autonomic"/sub-national) governments, which in some cases may play a role in fulfilling human rights (e.g. education, heath).
IPS 2016 We will understand NGOs as part of Civil Society: Civil society definition: "The wide array of nongovernmental and not-or-profit organizations that have a presence in public life, expressing the interests and values of their members or others, based on ethical, cultural, political, scientific, religious or philanthropic considerations". (World Bank) ...