HUMAN RIGHTS: Essay Writing Topics

English_Master August 8, 2016 No Comments

HUMAN RIGHTS 

What are Human Rights?

Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.

Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law, general principles and other sources of international law. International human rights law lays down obligations of governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.

Human rights are commonly understood as “inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being.” Human rights are thus conceived as universal (applicable everywhere) and egalitarian (the same for everyone). These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights in both national and international levels. The doctrine of human rights in international practice, within international law, global and regional institutions, in the policies of states and in the activities of non-governmental organizations, has been a cornerstone of policy around the world.

Philosophy

The philosophy of human rights attempts to examine the underlying basis of the concept of human rights and critically looks at its content and justification. Several theoretical approaches have been advanced to explain how and why human rights have become a part of social expectations.

One of the oldest Western philosophies of human rights is that they are a product of a natural law, stemming from different philosophical or religious grounds. Other theories hold that human rights codify moral behaviour which is a human social product developed by a process of biological and social evolution (associated with Hume). Human rights are also described as a sociological pattern of rule setting (as in the sociological theory of law and the work of Weber). These approaches include the notion that individuals in a society accept rules from legitimate authority in exchange for security and economic advantage (as in Rawls) -a social contract. The two theories that dominate contemporary human rights discussion are the interest theory and the will theory. Interest theory argues that the principal function of human rights is to protect and promote certain essential human interests, while will theory attempts to establish the validity of human rights based on the unique human capacity for freedom.

Classification

Human rights can be classified and organized in a number of different ways. At an international level, the most common categorization of human rights has been to split them into civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights.

Civil and political rights are enshrined in articles 3 to 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Economic, social and cultural rights are enshrined in articles 22 to 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Human Rights in India

The situation of human rights in India is a complex one, as a result of the country’s large size and tremendous diversity, its status as a developing country and a sovereign, secular, democratic republic, and its history as a former colonial territory. The Constitution of India provides for Fundamental rights, which include freedom of religion. Clauses also provide for Freedom of Speech, as well as separation of executive and judiciary and freedom of movement within the country and abroad.

According to the United States Library of Congress, although human rights problems do exist in India, the country is generally not regarded as a human rights concern, unlike other countries in South Asia. Based on these considerations, the 2010 report of Freedom in the World by Freedom House gave India a political rights rating of 2, and a civil liberties rating of 3, earning it the highest possible rating of free.

In its report on human rights in India during 2010, Human Rights Watch stated India had “significant human rights problems.” They identified lack of accountability for security forces and impunity for abusive policing including “police brutality, extrajudicial killings and torture” as major problems. An independent United Nations expert in 2011 expressed concern that she found human rights workers and their families who “have been killed, tortured, ill-treated, disappeared, threatened, arbitrarily arrested and detained, falsely charged and under surveillance because of their legitimate work in upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Recently, India has demonstrated an increased commitment to rule of law and citizens’ legal rights. Because of police abuses during interrogation, Article 22 of the Indian Constitution was added to prevent police from detaining citizens for longer than 24 hours without a special order from a magistrate. Though domestic law grants this fundamental legal right, there remains a tremendous gulf between the actual law and its implementation. Police officers regularly detain suspects for several days, post-dating arrest documents 24-hours before producing the defendant before the magistrate. Similarly, pre-trial detainees are routinely denied due process rights taken for granted in the western world: notice of charges and an opportunity to contact family or lawyers. In many cases these prisoners – poor and marginally literate are completely unaware that they have any legal rights at all, further emboldening police officers.

Despite the fact that India has a limited legal aid system, the vast majority of pre-trial detainees never receive any legal representation, making this right illusory at best. India’s current legal aid system operates primarily in urban areas, and due to caste segregation many Indians do not receive access to legal aid at all. Each of India’s 28 states operates its own Legal Services Authority, resulting in an uncoordinated approach to India’s legal aid problems.