The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an important milestone in the history of human rights movements in the world. Human rights movement has grown very much in scope in recent years and in its sweep the instances of injustice and inequality have come down considerably...
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an important milestone in the history of human rights movements in the world. Human rights movement has grown very much in scope in recent years and in its sweep the instances of injustice and inequality have come down considerably. The concept of modern human rights movement has its origins in the aftermath of the World War II and the formation of the United Nations.
The UN Charter and the International Bill of Human Rights
The UN Charter itself upholds its primary objective of promoting human rights and fundamental freedom for all. It is noteworthy that this very objective of the formation of the United Nations is spelt out unambiguously under Article 1(3) of the Charter of the United Nations. Article 1(3) of the UN Charter says that the primary objective of the formation of the United Nations Organization is "to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion".
The human rights as envisaged under UN Charter form the International Bill of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are parts of the human rights provisions coming under the International Bill of Human rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Consequent upon the atrocities committed during the World War II and other related reasons, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not an absolutely binding resolution on the member nations. However, in practice, the Declaration has acquired the force of international customary law. Hence these provisions may be invoked by the national and regional judiciaries under appropriate circumstances. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights urges the member nations to promote a number of human, civil, economic and social rights. These rights are of paramount significance since they are the "foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world." Through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for the first time the rights-duty duality between the State and its citizens became an accepted principle. By this declaration, there emerged a possibility to bring about a control over the behavior of the states and press upon them their duties to their citizens.
Drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights was framed by the members of the Human Rights Commission under the chairmanship of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Canadian law professor John Humphrey and French lawyer René Cassin were involved in the research and preparation the work of the document. In the research and preparation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international experts on human rights representing the continents and all major religions as well as national leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi were consulted.
image source The signing of the UN Charter in San Francisco, 1945
Civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights were included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the principle that these basic human rights are indivisible. The Declaration was adopted unanimously. However, the Eastern Bloc, Apartheid South Africa and Saudi Arabia abstained from voting.
The Universal Declaration of Human of Human Rights Bifurcated in to Two Covenants
After its adoption, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was bifurcated into two distinct covenants. This division was necessitated when the relevancy and propriety of the inclusion of economic and social provisions in covenants of human rights was questioned. In consequence, a Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and a second Covenant on social were drawn. These covenants emphasize on the right of the people to self-determination and to sovereignty over their natural resources. This has necessarily led to a debate over whether human rights are more fundamental than economic rights. This controversy is still continuing.
(1) Julia de Blaauw, Human Rights at a Crossroad? Towards an institutionalised regional human rights framework in the Pacific, Just Change http://www.dev-zone.org/justchange/documents/JC%2012_web
(2) http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/partners/22.html "security and privacy by criminalizing harmless private relations between consenting adults"
(3) "Interactive Map of Legal Status of LGBT People". Amnestyusa.org. http://www.amnestyusa.org/lgbt-human-rights/country-information/page.do?id=1106576
(4) "About LGBT Human Rights". Amnestyusa.org. 2010-03-03. http://www.amnestyusa.org/lgbt-human-rights/about-lgbt-human-rights/page.do?id=1106573
(5) "The Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity". The Yogyakarta Principles. http://www.yogyakartaprinciples.org/