Monday , January 20 2020
Home / Adam Smith Institute / Signing the Human Rights Convention

Signing the Human Rights Convention

Summary:
It was on December 10th, 1948, that the United Nations Convention on Human Rights was signed by 48 countries, with 8 abstaining and none opposed. It was a reaction to the horrors and the atrocities committed during the Second World War. It was felt there needed to be some internationally agreed standard that would protect people from the criminal abuse that had been perpetrated by Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and others.Its 30 articles are not legally binding, though some lawyers have tried to make them so. They are, however, a strong moral force to restrain those inclined to engage in systematic violation of accepted standards of human decency. The US Supreme Court (Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 2004), ruled that the Declaration "does not of its own force impose obligations as a matter of

Topics:
Madsen Pirie considers the following as important:

This could be interesting, too:

Tyler Durden writes NYT Editors Hedge Their Bets, Endorse Warren & Klobuchar

Don Boudreaux writes Quotation of the Day…

Tyler Durden writes The EU Is The Biggest Loser From US-China Agreement

Tyler Durden writes “We’re Ready To Fight”: 1000s Expected To Attend Massive Gun-Rights Rally At Virginia Capitol

It was on December 10th, 1948, that the United Nations Convention on Human Rights was signed by 48 countries, with 8 abstaining and none opposed. It was a reaction to the horrors and the atrocities committed during the Second World War. It was felt there needed to be some internationally agreed standard that would protect people from the criminal abuse that had been perpetrated by Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and others.

Its 30 articles are not legally binding, though some lawyers have tried to make them so. They are, however, a strong moral force to restrain those inclined to engage in systematic violation of accepted standards of human decency.

The US Supreme Court (Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 2004), ruled that the Declaration "does not of its own force impose obligations as a matter of international law." Other countries have similarly ruled that the Declaration does not constitute part of their domestic law.

The Declaration sets out protection of human dignity, liberty and equality (meaning equal access to justice and legal protection, rather than equality of economic condition). It sets out the right to life, and the rejection of slavery and torture. It specifies freedom of movement, including the right to leave one’s country. It asserts the right to freedom of thought, opinion, religion and conscience, word, and peaceful associations.

It specifies what are called economic rights, “including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services." It lists rights for the disabled, and “those in motherhood or childhood.”

South Africa abstained because they wanted to protect and continue their policy of apartheid. The Saudi delegation thought that the freedom to change one’s religion contravened sharia law, and the Soviet bloc had reservations about conceding the right of people to leave their country. These dissenters abstained rather than voting against because it was not binding.

If it were to be law, there would need to be an international police body to enforce it and courts to impose punishments for transgression, which nations were not, and are not, ready to sign up to.

The Declaration has been criticized for being Western oriented in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and insensitive to the values of other cultures and religions. Despite these misgivings, however, it remains a powerful moral force to restrain those who would abuse basic human values.

It has to be regarded as a set of aspirations, rather than something that should be guaranteed. Every right imposes a corresponding duty, in that one’s right to life imposes an obligation on others not to kill them. The right to ‘free’ education and healthcare means that someone, somewhere, has to pay for it, which in many poor countries is scarcely possible.

Obviously, some nations today do not respect the human rights set out in the Convention. They murder dissenters and journalists who speak out against government abuse. They execute those who do not follow the religious or moral code that the country espouses. They deny rights to women and minorities. Some of the countries that do this actually sit on the UN body that is supposed to oversee these rights. But all of these reservations notwithstanding, it represented an assertion by the international body that all human beings are entitled to be treated as individuals worthy of respect and decent treatment, and as such, represented an advance, an assertion that all humans are entitled to protection from mistreatment and abuse. It set a standard by which the world can judge when nations fall short of the values it expressed.

Media enquiries: 07584 778207 (Call only, 24 hour)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *