There is no blinking at the fact that human rights have played an important role in promotion of a good society by making the concepts of humanity and human dignity popular. Throughout the human history, autocratic governments have violated the fundamental concept of human dignity, and rights of human beings were violated on a large scale. Human rights are important in the relationships that exist between individuals and the government that has power over them. However, human rights mean that this power is limited. States have to look after the basic needs of the people and protect their freedoms.
The following discussion discourses the importance of human rights in aid of humanity and promotion of a good society.
Relationship between human rights and development
Human rights and development both aim to promote wellbeing and freedom, based on the inherent dignity and equality of all people. The concern of human development is the realization of basic freedoms, such as having the choice to meet bodily requirements or to escape preventable diseases.
Corruption and human rights
Corruption compromises states’ ability to fulfil their obligation to promote, respect and protect human rights of individuals within their jurisdictions. The consequences of corruption are multiple; violating almost all the basic human rights — civil and political, economic, social and cultural rights. With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 – and most notably in this regard, SDG 16 – awareness has spread within the UN system on the detrimental impact of corruption on human rights.
Human rights and development
The Declaration on the Right to Development is now in its thirty-second year, yet remains as divisive as it was at the time of its adoption on 4 December 1986. While proponents of the right assert its relevance or primacy, sceptics relegate it to secondary importance or even deny its existence altogether. In 2016, the 30th anniversary of the Declaration and the adoption of the SDGs (which explicitly recognize the right to development), and that of the Paris Agreement on climate change presented a new opportunity to replace this division with a common understanding, among states and other key stakeholders, as to what the right to development actually is; what it means; why it is important; and how it should be realized.
This project seeks to contribute to such realignment and help the international community move beyond misconceptions and toward realizing the right, together with all other rights, including the realization of the SDGs. The project aims, inter alia, to: present an objective analysis of the debate today; create a safe space for states and other stakeholders to confront misconceptions, build bridges and exchange views on the links between human rights and development, understand the role of the UN human rights system in contributing to sustainable development and the realization of the SDGs; and to identify gaps in that contribution.
Human rights, climate change and disaster-induced cross-border displacement
Climate change has enormous implications for the enjoyment of a wide range of internationally-protected human rights. This is especially the case for people already in vulnerable situations. Over the past 8 years, the international community has taken a number of steps to leverage human rights law and principles to strengthen international responses to global warming. One of the most important human impacts of climate change will be on displacement. Already millions of people are forcibly displaced each year by natural disasters. With the effects of climate change, the frequency and intensity of such disasters will further increase, as will the number of people being displaced across borders. Yet, at present, the international protection framework for such scenarios is insufficient.
Importance of human rights in overcoming poverty
The economic empowerment of the world’s poorest people will remain only a dream unless their human rights are also duly considered. So, governments around the world ought not to separate development and basic rights when devising policies. Poverty, undoubtedly, remains high in many regions of the world, particularly sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia.
Empowerment cannot be achieved if development policies are pursued in a human rights vacuum. The UN Charter envisions a more equal, secure and just world in larger freedom. Human rights principles such as equality, participation and accountability and the rule of law are instrumental for development to take firm roots and be both equitable and sustainable. A human rights approach to development is essential as it puts people in control of their own lives.
Human rights and terrorism
Terrorism confronts us constantly with our responsibility to uphold the rights of the individuals. It has devastating consequences upon its victims’ rights to life, liberty and security. The human cost of terrorism has been felt in virtually every corner of the globe. Various countries have experienced the terror of multiple bomb attacks in which many people were killed, while many others have had their lives changed beyond recognition by terrible injuries and trauma – both mental and physical.
The fundamental obligation of any government is the protection of its individuals. States have an obligation to ensure the human rights of their people and others when taking measures to combat terrorism. What is vital to bear in mind is that the promotion and protection of human rights and effective counterterrorism measures are not conflicting goals; rather they are complementary and mutually reinforcing.
However, the measures adopted by states to counter terrorism have often posed serious challenges to human rights. States engage in torture and other ill-treatment of suspects; the independence of the judiciary is undermined; the voices of human rights defenders, journalists, minorities and civil society are stifled. More and more resources are channelled toward the security sector, to the detriment of economic and social development. All these practices, individually and collectively, have a corrosive effect on human rights, the rule of law and good governance. They are also counterproductive in combating terror.
Between 2009 and 2013, there were 10,102 terrorist events, including failed attacks. Organizations working for human rights have tried to build international consensus and promote international standards for fighting terrorism. Counterterrorism strategies that do not commit to protecting the human rights of suspected perpetrators risk causing as much damage as terrorism itself. Our ability to claim these rights and to enjoy freedom and democracy must carry with it the responsibility to ensure that everyone is able to enjoy the basic human rights regardless of their ideology, ethnicity, gender, colour or creed.
Human rights and migration
Another considerable challenge to human rights in today’s world is the issue of migration. UN estimates put worldwide IDPs at the end of 2014 at 60 million as compared to 40 million a decade ago. This staggering increase in IDPs shows the scale and urgency of the challenge. The human cost of migration has increased significantly over the last few years as people flee their homes in search of protection and opportunity.
Migration is a response to growing global inequalities, and is also an important economic and social phenomenon. While many migrants move to take advantage of increased opportunities out of genuine and informed choice, many others are compelled to leave their homes due to economic, social and political factors including poverty and a lack of decent work, social exclusion, persecution and armed conflict. In the absence of sufficient regular migrant opportunities, migrants can be forced to resort to irregular migrant channels, including smugglers, or fall prey to human traffickers.
As the scale, scope and complexity of international migration has grown, states and other stakeholders have become increasingly aware of the need to engage in international dialogue to address migration, and to enhance the international governance of migration.
Violations human rights of migrants, including denial of access to fundamental economic and social rights such as the right to education or the right to health, are often closely linked to discriminatory laws and practices. These violations are also the result of deep-seated attitudes of prejudice and xenophobia against migrants.
Today, there is unprecedented stress being placed upon the international human rights regime by crises of governance, terrorism, international economic problems and ideological chasms, to name a few. How we deal with these pressures defines who we are as a society. We as individuals must insist on claiming our human rights and we must ensure that others are able to do so as well. We must also collectively hold governments accountable for their commitments to protect the rights of citizens, and we must continue to insist on states’ faithful compliance with international human rights obligations. This is of the utmost and fundamental importance and potentially the defining challenge of the modern era.
First Report on Right to Development
On 14 September 2017, Saad Alfarargi, Special Rapporteur on the right to development, delivered his first report to the UN Human Rights Council. The report highlights the disproportionate impact of global pandemics, corruption, the energy and climate crisis, and other adverse global trends on the world’s poor and those living in Africa, least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
In his first report to the Council, the Special Rapporteur laments that many people are not even aware that such a right exists, although the UN adopted the Declaration on the Right to Development more than 30 years ago (in 1986). The Special Rapporteur also observes that the right to development has become politicized, with the international community failing to agree on what the right to development means or how to measure progress towards this right.
The report outlines the Special Rapporteur’s preliminary views, highlights implementation challenges and presents a preliminary strategy that will inform his work, including his approach to stakeholder engagement. Key challenges addressed in the report include politicization of the issue, lack of engagement in promoting, protecting and fulfilling this right, and adverse global trends, such as the energy and climate crisis, the increasing number of global disasters, corruption and illicit financial flows.
“States shall take resolute steps to eliminate the massive and flagrant violations of the human rights of peoples and human beings affected by situations such as those resulting from apartheid, all forms of racism and racial discrimination, colonialism, foreign domination and occupation, aggression, foreign interference and threats against national sovereignty, national unity and territorial integrity, threats of war and refusal to recognize the fundamental right of peoples to self-determination.”
— Declaration on the Right to Development (Article 5)