Ways of promoting human rights: The concept human rights is inexistent without the human person. They must work in tandem unless be put in oblivion. Human rights exist because we exist. The reason behind its existence stems from the congruence that they are the rights of people simply because they are human beings. A breakdown of human rights existence and invention came from established laws like the Magna Carta Charter of 1215, the French declaration on the rights of man and citizens 1789 and the American Bill of Rights.
A praise to revolutionary thinkers like Jean Jacques Rousseau and John Locke for their contribution in developing the comprehensive concept of natural rights which all other rights subsequently follows. The rise to prominence of human rights came after the Second World War by the formation of the United nations in 1945. It was decided in the United Nations by the charter that the horrors of the war should never be allowed to occur again (UN charter San Francisco 1945). This decision bestowed faith in the dignity and worth of the human person all over the world and the commitment was channeled to these universal rights for a better standard of life for all people.
To solidify these commitment, on the 10th of December 1948, the United nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR ) as a common standard of achievement for all people and all nations. This groundbreaking declaration drafted by one of history’s most distinguishable, Eleanor Roosevelt among others, contained all the entitlements, freedoms and activities that all human beings are to enjoy by virtue of their humanity. These declaration has served as a guiding blueprint for countries in their adopted domestic laws.
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Table of Content
RELEVANCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Firstly, all humans have the right to have their life protected and not to have it taken away by others including the state. The government must ensure reasonable steps are taken to protect the lives of people in their territory. Where the lives of persons are taken as a result of brutality by law enforcement agencies like the police, the deceased family and relatives have the right to seek redress and compensation and the state has a duty to punish violators of the right to life. This does not apply in certain circumstances for instance where a person is sentenced to death from a guilty finding of the offense of murder.
Every individual has the right not to be treated inhumanly, abused, nor subjected to degrading treatment. Torture is severely physical or mental harm inflicted by someone to the person of another. Inhuman treatment means treatment causing severe mental harm. Degrading treatment means treatment grossly humiliating and undignified. The state has a duty to ensure and protect others from treating persons in an inhumanly or degrading way.
The right to fair hearing is a broad one. Where the civil rights and obligations of a person is the issue for determination before a court of law, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing by a court within a reasonable time. This also applies to criminal charges. And where a person is charged with a criminal offense, such person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The first article of the UDHR stated that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and in rights. They should act towards one another in the spirit of brotherhood. This provision means that we share equal dignity and rights, but then the uniqueness of every human being poses a distinction, unproblematic, because it is a distinction without a difference.
This means that, in the collective humanity, we share our differences and are welcomed to foster our equal entitlements and not to deprive one person and allow others. Human rights won’t be called human rights, if it protects or it is being enjoyed by only people we like or choose. If we are to live in equal dignity and rights, we must put an end to the walls of discrimination we build against each other based on status, race, color, religion, ethnic origin, sexuality, gender, views and way of life.
Solidarity and human rights are universal principles we must always put first. Solidarity of the human person is understanding that our differences as human beings, nonetheless should always make us inseparable, why? Because of our common shared humanity. Victims include women and girls, people of color, people with disabilities, minority groups, migrant workers and refugees and internally displaced persons.
Also see: Characteristics of human rights
In other to protect these people, human rights has been perennial on this issues and its recurrent dispositions and laws have permeated the fabric of discrimination causing more than a brouhaha in developed countries and not so much in developing countries due to enforceability problem. In other to address discrimination, we must give thoughts to the uniqueness of every human person and adopt tolerance at their imperfections and dynamism.
The government on the other hand are saddled with the responsibility of giving voices to minority groups, adopting overarching mechanisms in social inclusion for all people regardless of their differences nor where they are from. Anti discriminatory laws include the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD ), the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW ) etc.
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ROLE OF CITIZENS IN PROMOTING HUMAN RIGHTS
a. Know your rights: it is the man who knows his rights that can detect intimidation or exploitation anywhere. Acquainting ourselves with all our human rights like the rights to life, liberty, education, redress and compensation, etc is the first evolutionary process in building our world of utopia.
b. Stand up for others : Martin Luther King said injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. This means that when one of us freedom is threatened, all of us freedom is threatened. Those among us who are vulnerable to have their human rights violated in our communities and have no voice, we must defend them by taking actions like petition writing, creating awareness on our respective social handles of their plight and seeking protection from the court of law to protect these vulnerable people from violators. Act now, activism works.
c. DISCRIMINATION won’t be a problem if we are tolerant: human rights works in congruity with tolerance and in exercising our rights, we must act towards one another in the spirit of brotherhood (art. 1, UDHR ) and put our differences aside because a win for common humanity is a win for all.
d. Don’t forget the court : pursuant to section 46(1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, if our human rights are threatened or violated, the constitution provides that we can seek redress, compensation and enforcement of our fundamental human rights at the High Court.
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ROLE OF THE GOVERNMENT IN PROMOTING HUMAN RIGHTS
Responsibility to respect, protect and to fulfill human rights (international human rights law, olivier de schutter). This tripartite obligation are duties every government must uphold to the core or be ready for a dystopia. The duty to respect human rights essentially requires the state to abstain from directly violating a right. The fact that the state may have adopted measures to avoid extra judicial killings by law enforcement agents does not diminish the responsibility of the state if and when such arbitrary killings occurs.
The case of the Lekki massacre by the Nigerian army in recent times is a case for posterity to judge. The duty to protect simply means that the government must take any measures that it can reasonably be expected to adopt in other to prevent human rights violation from occurring. e. g, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015, the Anti-torture Act 2017 etc.
The duty to fulfill impose on the state the obligation to establish a set of policies and frameworks to ensure the full realization of human rights. e. g, right to education, right to housing, providing food aid to people in situations of natural disasters.
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In conclusion, human rights may not define a greater part of our future if we are not ready to decide on it, because in looking for the Relevance of human rights in our daily lives, we do not have to look further for the reason that these entitlements are well within our reach, if only every Nigerian knew that. But can we boldly say that human rights succeeded?
The answer is in the positive, even with the development and progress it brought, the recurrence of human rights violation anywhere is inevitable, but it can’t be called a failure, Rather, it’s a testament to the Relevance of our established human rights law gotten from our very existence as human beings which are to take precedence and jurisdiction over that human rights violation and grant justice and compensation to the victims.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ChMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.