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.
Human Rights is a non-binding declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, partly in response to the atrocities of World War II. Although the UDHR (Universal Declaration of human Rights) is a non- binding resolution, it is now considered to be a central component of international customary law which may be invoked under appropriate circumstances by national and other judiciaries.
The UDHR urges member nations to promote a number of human, civil, economic and social rights, asserting these rights are part of the “foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” The declaration was the first international legal effort to limit the behaviour of states and press upon them duties to their citizens following the model of the rights-duty duality The UDHR was framed by members of the Human Rights Commission, with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt as Chair, who began to discuss an International Bill of Rights in 1947. The members of the Commission did not immediately agree on the form of such a bill of rights, and whether, or how, it should be enforced.
The Commission proceeded to frame the UDHR and accompanying treaties, but the UDHR quickly became the Priority. Canadian law professor John Humprey and French lawyer Rene Cassin were responsible for much of the cross-national research and the structure of the document respectively, where the articles of the declaration were interpretative of the general principle of the preamble.
The document was structured by Cassin to include the basic principles of dignity, liberty, equality and brotherhood in the first two articles, followed successively by rights pertaining to individuals; rights of individuals in relation to each other and to groups; spiritual, public and political rights; and economic, social and cultural rights. The final three articles place, according to Cassin, rights in the context of limits, duties and the social and political order in which they are to be realised. Humphrey and Cassin intended the rights in the UDHR to be legally enforceable through some means, as is reflected in the third clause of the preamble.
Some of the UDHR was researched and written by a committee of international experts on human rights, including representatives from all continents and all. j major religions, and drawing on consultation with leaders such as Mahatma j Gandhi. The inclusion of both civil and political rights and economic, social j and cultural rights was predicated on the assumption that basic human rights j are indivisible and that the different types of rights listed are inextricably linked.
I This principle was not then opposed by any member states (the declaration was adopted unanimously, with the abstention of the Eastern Bloc, Apartheid South Africa and Saudi Arabia), however this principle was later subject to I significant challenges.
The Universal Declaration was bifurcated into two distinct and different covenants, a Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and another! Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Over the objection of the j more developed states [Capitalist], which questioned the relevance and propriety of such provisions in covenants on human rights, both begin with the right of I people to self-determination and to sovereignty over their natural resources.! Then the two covenants go different ways.
The drafters of the Covenants initially intended only one instrument. The original drafts included only political and civil rights, but economic and social rights | were added early. Western States then fought for, and obtained, a division into | two covenants. They insisted that economic and social right were essentially; aspirations or plans, not rights, since their realisation depended on availability of resources and on controversial economic theory and ideology.
These, they ‘ said, were not appropriate subjects for binding obligations and should not be | allowed to dilute the legal character of provisions honoring political-civil rights. 1 There was wide agreement and clear recognition that the means required to enforce or induce compliance with socio-economic undertakings were different from the means required for civil-political rights.
Because of the divisions over which rights to include, and because some states declined to ratify any treaties including certain specific interpretations of human rights, and despite the Soviet bloc and a number of developing countries arguing strongly for the inclusion of all rights in a so-called Unity Resolution, the rights enshrined in the UDHR were split into two separate covenants, allowing states to adopt some rights and derogate others. Though this allowed the covenants to be created, one commentator has written that it denied the proposed principle that all rights are linked which was central to some interpretations of the UDHR.