The UN has located major areas where there is violation of human right in various States. For that there is the United Nations Centre for Human Rights (UNCHR) as a focal body for all activities in connection with human rights. It was established in 1982 by the UN as the major body to look into the matter. To address human problems in any particular area, experts and intellectuals are usually nominated at the international level to study and suggest measures for solution of the same.
Apart from the institutions of the UN, there are some regional institutions to protect human rights in respective regions. Such institutions are the Council of Europe (founded in 1949), the Organization of African Unity (founded in 198 1) and the Organization of American States (founded in 1959). Council of Europe has established European Convention on Human Rights in which 39 countries are member States. In its preamble it is stated that the Governments of European countries have a common heritage of political traditions, ideals and the rule of law.
Organisation of African Unity has 50 member States. They have adopted the African charter of Human and People’s Rights being inspired by the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This institution tries its best to promote peoples’ rights along with the collective rights of people as a group. Organization of American States has 30 member States to protect human rights and investigate any violation of the same.
Besides, there are some Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) which also work for promotion of respect for human rights. A most-noted NGOs is the Amnesty International working at the national, regional and international levels. For its commendable work in the ?eld of protection of freedom of speech and belief and release of political prisoners it was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 1977. Red Cross is another world organization to promote humanitarian law at the international level. Red Cross since its foundation by Hem’y Dunant, a Swiss humanist, in 1859 has been working to promote humanitarian service throughout the world.
Through a number of conventions in the first part of 20th century it has made its presence in most of the countries. It provides healthcare for the victims of any battle who are wounded with impartiality and neutrality. It is committed to health services, blood bank and relief of human suffering in peacetime. The UN, inter Governmental regional institutions, NGOs and humanitarian organizations have been working to protect and promote human rights in some form or the other.
All these events reveal that an international mind and a cosmopolitan outlook have been growing all over the world. There is increasing awareness for effective implementation of human rights in all countries. Because of international scenario national human rights institutions have been established in almost all democratic countries.
As a matter of fact, human right as an academic discipline is taught in many educational institutions. Education, it seems, is a prerequisite to create awareness in favour of human rights. Education plays a vital role for dissemination of the values of democracy, social justice and human rights. Needless to say that democracy, social justice and human rights are integrally related to each other and the success of one facilitates the success of the rest. Concept of human rights is reciprocally related to human duty and responsibility.
Sense of civic values and humanistic concern is an important aspect of human rights.
Right and responsibility arise from the fact that man is a social being. cooperative social living that includes caring and sharing is a basic requirement for the well being of the individual and society at large. Urge or aspiration for a happy living is possible only in a good society.
But history is the witness that so much of disparities, inhuman treatment of fellow beings, subjugation of women, caste hierarchy, slavery etc. have been there in human society in varying degrees.
Against these social evils the emphasis on human rights and dignity is a cultural renaissance for a more humane and happier existence in the world. Since humanism and humanitarianism are the important ideals of civilized living, they cannot thrive in a climate of social inequality and injustice. Emphasis on human dignity and equality and its practical expression in all social relationships is the sine-qua-non for a better and happier future of mankind in the world.
Right to live with dignity largely depends on social situation. If discriminations and disparities prevail in many areas of social life that invariably tells upon the quality of life in a society. When right to live with dignity has been accepted as a higher value and people, by and large, adhere to it the society is no doubt a civilized one. Right to liberty coupled with pursuit of happiness is a fundamental value that makes a society humane and progressive.
Respect for human rights has evolved in human society on two basic notions. One is the belief that man can remake the world in the sense that man is the maker of human destiny. By human efforts and collective endeavours we can de?nitely bring about qualitative improvement in the social life of all the people around the world.
Social inequality has nothing to do with divine sanction as it is usually believed in caste or discrimination – ridden society. The second assumption is the fact that the individual is the end, but not means to any higher end. Society is for every individual and not for any selected few.
It is a fact that in underdeveloped countries or countries where religious orthodoxy still plays an important role in public psyche, respect for human rights and dignity has not been strengthened. On the contrary, religious fundamentalists have frequently opposed the right to freedom of speech and expression. Great scientists, freethinkers and rationalists who have made immense contribution to the progress of knowledge and civilizational values have been humiliated, imprisoned or killed by orthodox diehards in their contemporary societies. Even today in countries where religious emotions loom large the conservative priestly class is opposed to human dignity, secularism and right to freedom of speech and expression. There are various other ways of violation of human rights as well. Despite all that, the international concern to protect human rights in all parts of the world is one of the greatest moral elevations that mankind has achieved.
(The writer is president, Humanist Rationalist Organisation (HRO),Mob: 9438547895)
Updated On: 11 December 2018