The United Nations (UN) is an international organization whose stated aims are to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achieving world peace. The UN was founded in 1945 after World War II to replace the League of Nations, to stop wars between countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue.
There are currently 192 member states, including nearly every recognized independent state in the world. From its headquarters on international territory in New York City, the UN and its specialized agencies decide on substantive and administrative issues in regular meetings held throughout the year. The organization is divided into administrative bodies, primarily:
i. The General Assembly (the main 206 deliberative assembly);
ii. The Security Council (decides certain resolutions for peace and security);
iii. The Economic and Social Council (assists in promoting international economic and social cooperation and development);
iv. The Secretariat (provides studies, information, and facilities needed by the UN);
v. The International Court of Justice (the primary judicial organ). Additional bodies deal with the governance of all other UN System agencies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The UN’s most visible public figure is the Secretary-General, currently Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, who attained the post in 2007. The organization is financed from assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states, and has six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish
Human rights refer to the “basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled.” Examples of rights and freedoms which have come to be commonly thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; and economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, the right to work, and the right to education.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Broadly speaking, rights are those conditions of social life without which a man cannot attain his best. They are the sum total of those opportunities which ensure the enrichment of human personality. With the rise of liberal democratic states in Europe, rights became an integral part of enlightened citizenship. The provision, enforcement and protection of rights of the individual became the criteria for judging the validity of the state.
However, with the rise of legal constitutional states, more emphasis began to be laid on the legal aspect of rights i.e. the rights are the creation of the state and they are granted to the individual as a citizen of the state.
Only that which the law gives is right. According to legal view Rights are not natural or inherent in man but are artificial in the sense that they become rights only when they are determined and secured by the state. It is the state which defines and lays down the rights; it is the state which provides the legal framework which guarantees those rights and more importantly since it is the state which creates and sustains the rights, whenever the contents of the law changes, the substance of the rights also change.
Hence rights are not universal but are relative to the nature and form of the state, which gives those rights. For example, the rights granted to the citizens of USA may not be the same as those of India or Russia.
The human rights on the ether hand emphasise upon the universal character of rights simply possessed by human beings as human beings irrespective of the fact that they belong to any state, society, race or religious faith. They are based on the pledge given by the member states of the United Nations to promote ‘universal respect for the observation of the human rights and fundamental freedom’.
The Preamble of the UN Declaration says the purpose of human rights is to set ‘a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations to the end that every individual and every organ of society keeping this declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teachings and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of member states themselves and among the people of the territories under the jurisdiction.’