Topic 2: Human Rights
Nature and Development of Concepts of Human Rights
State Sovereignty: refers to the power of a state to have control over its territory and its subjects. State sovereignty also stops states from acting within the boundaries of other states and therefore allowing human rights abuses to go unpunished within the boundaries of a state. Natural Law Doctrine: Natural law is the law that has been created by higher powers or higher reasoning. Natural law is frequently said to be the divine law or the true law. This reflects the belief held by natural law theorists that natural law is not created by humans but simply exists out there.
Historic Constitutional Documents
Magna Carta 1215: a political agreement between the King and Barns that paved the way for the development of rights.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948: first document by the UN on human rights.
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1976
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1976
Convention of the Rights of the Child 1990: develops a regime whereby the rights of children are protected. Children are the most vulnerable humans.
Movement for the Abolition of Slavery
Slavery: circumstance where a person is completely under the control of another person. This control is physical and usually includes working under duress for no reward.
The movement to ban slavery began as an extension of revolutionary thinking which sought to redress the power inequalities in society. In the 18th century Britain outlawed slavery and in the 19th century a large number of treaties between countries were signed outlawing the practice. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides for the abolition of slavery.
Trade Unionism: is the collective organisation of workers formed to protect the rights of individuals from the power exerted by employers.
The trade union movement has used its collective power to establish a number of laws and working conditions that are akin to human rights, By using unilateral regulation (restricting work to certain conditions) and collective bargaining (power of the group to negotiate on behalf of individuals) unions could develop positive, favourable work conditions for members. The leading international organisation for labour and workplace conditions is the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Universal Suffrage: refers to the right of all persons within a state to vote in political elections. Suffrage may be considered a human right due to the fact that voting permits the voter a say in the determination of government.
Without education a person is unable to properly comprehend the society within which they live. Without such comprehension an uneducated person will be unable to determine when and how other human rights abuses occur.
Types of Rights
Sometimes a person feels he or she is morally entitled to something - a moral right. Eg. A family may feel that they have the right to park their car directly in front of their house but may become annoyed when someone else always parks their car there instead. However, the law is unlikely do anything about it.
Many people feel they have a right to certain things because of a custom. The law will usually not enforce customary rights.
A legal right is a right clearly given by the law.
Human rights are fundamental rights. They are things to which every human being is entitled just because they are human.
Domestic rights are rights people have within their own country.
International rights are those rights that are recognised as being fundamental rights of all people, no matter what nation state they belong to, even if they are stateless.
Differences Between Domestic and International Rights
International Rights are More