Human rights are fundamental and are the birthright of all human beings. Their protection and promotion is the first responsibility of governments - Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action 1993
All human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. -Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action 1993 para 5
3 types of rights:
‘first generation’ is represented by civil and political rights.
The ‘second generation’ rights are associated with social, economic and cultural rights,
Third generation rights: also called solidarity rights
Prominent examples: right to peace, to development and to environment.
UN and Human rights
Un Charter is not a HR charter, but it does make reference to HR. E.g
Art 68 - authorised ECOSOC to establish commission on HR.
Art 1(3) UN charter "promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms"
Art 55 "universal respect for HR"
Art 13 "assisting in the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinctions"
Art 62 GA empowered to "make recommendations for the purpose of promoting respect for HR"
Art 68 "Set up commissions in economic and social fields and for the promotion of HR"
Limitations of UN charter regarding HR
•The Charter itself does not did not contain a comprehensive system for protecting HR,
•The goal of securing respect for HR was to be achieved through States’ pledge to promote and observe rights within their territories.
•Note also Article 2 (7) and the emphasis on the non-intervention in the affairs of the states, parties to the UN. (Sovereignty)
•No definition of HR.
•The Charter’s references to HR limited. Many only have a promotional or programmatic character; they refer mainly to the purposes or goals of the UN or to competences of the various organs of the UN.
Contribution of UN to promotion of HR
•The UN Organisation has played a key role in the development of the contemporary idea of HR and in the global promotion and protection of HR
Importance of reference to HR recognises the role of international law in protecting rights of individuals
Universal Declaration of HR
First step taken by the UN in relation to HR was to form a body of international HR - UDHR + ICCPR and ICESCR
This international Bill of Rights was drafted by ECOSOC and Commission on HR
1946 UDHR adopted by RES 217 - NOT LEGALLY BINDING!!
UDHR Contains a wide range of rights.
The GA "proclaims this UDHR as a common standard of achivement for all peoples and all nations" - Preamble of UDHR
Art 1 "All human beings born free and equal in rights.
Art 2 " Everyone entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration, without distinction"
UDHR covers all 3 generations of rights
Art 3-20: Traditional rights and freedoms
Art 22-27:reference to economic and social standards
Art 28 3rd generation rights
Effect of UDHR -
First instrument in which rights accorded to all people were articulated
Open to all States
Successfully set a standard for the meaning of HR
Rights included have been basis fo various HR treaties
May be the only human rights instrument if the other covenants not signed or ratified
Effect of UDHR
Not legally binding, but has a strong moral force
Most cited instrument
Substantive provisions have arguably become binding on all states:
- As an authoritative interpretation of the Charter
- Part of CIL
- Through its jus cogens character