Current Issues of Human Rights Protection
What are the problems in the implementation and protection of human rights in the 21st century?
Which human rights are most under threat and need the greatest protection?
December 10 is observed as Human Rights Day. On this day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. After World War II, humanity needed to consolidate legally in the protest against war horror and understanding that life, equality and freedom of people are the greatest values. We, the first generation of the 21st century born in the noughties, understand that the problem of protection human rights nowadays is as urgent as it was seventy years ago.
It will be our task to help implement the Declaration of Human Rights, the document which acquired the status of international law and formed the basis of national legislation. What is our understanding of human rights? People, who live on Earth, are all different, with different tastes and appearances, social background and gender. Every person is unique and has something of his/her own that distinguishes him/her from other people. But we have something in common that unites all of us – we all have human rights that we get at the moment of birth. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights without any discrimination. The idea of human rights has a long history and it is rooted in world religions and ancient philosophical teachings. The entire philosophy of human rights is based on one undeniable value – this value is a person.
We have found out that the Declaration is not a legal convention, but a proclamation of common achievements of all peoples and nations; therefore it does not contain sanctions for violations of human rights and freedoms. However, the UN Declaration of Human Rights has direct effect and it is possible to refer to it when protecting your rights violation in international courts. You may also refer to European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms which was accepted by the Council of Europe in 1950. Due to the fact that Ukraine joined the Council of Europe and the Convention was ratified in our country, this document has the great importance in the process of protecting human rights.
There are a number of reasons for the increased attention to monitoring, promoting, fulfilling and protecting of civil and political rights as well as social, economic and cultural rights of a person.
Firstly, the problem of human rights protection is directly connected with the global problems of our time and the need to solve them in order to survive. The survival of mankind presupposes the solution of such global problems as disarmament, the prevention of nuclear war, the elimination of hunger and various kinds of diseases. Global environmental problems are of special concern of the world community in the 21st century.
Secondly, thanks to the development of information technologies and the Internet the whole world becomes the witness of human rights violation watching the war scenes in Iraq and Libya, in Donbas, Ukraine and Nahirny Karabakh. War conflicts violate such basic human rights as the right to life, liberty and freedom; the right to freedom from slavery and the right to freedom from torture, arbitrary arrest and exile, violence and murder, slavery and expulsion, degrading treatment and “ethnic cleansing”. These human rights are under threat and need the greatest protection.
Thirdly, the problem of human rights protection is inextricably connected with the democratization of political regimes of power. In more than one hundred countries, important civil political freedoms continue to be restricted. To broaden and deepen democracy is a guarantee for the realization of such human rights as the right to freedom of opinion and the right of peaceful assembly and association as well as the right to participate in government.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that governments are primarily responsible for promoting and protecting human rights. However, the Declaration states, “Every individual and every organ of society … shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.”
It is absolutely necessary and vital for people to know their rights in order to be able to realize them.
The peculiarity of human rights in the 21st century is their globalization. The trend towards expanding the influence of human rights on all continents is more visible. There is a tendency to combine the idea of human rights with the interests of workers, youth, children, people with disabilities, refugees, unemployed people, entrepreneurs, homeless people, and others. Rich countries in our globalized world are becoming richer and poor countries poorer. The growing number of people living in extreme poverty is the result of this inequality. It complicates the process of asserting such human rights as the rights to food and housing, work, health and education in many regions of the world.
And one more very important thing: human rights are indivisible from duties and responsibilities of a person.
Bohdan Hawrylyshyn, an outstanding Ukrainian, economist, and thinker is the author of ‘The Universal Declaration of Human Obligations’. At the beginning of the 2010s Bohdan Hawrylyshyn suggested the list of human responsibilities. There are fifteen human obligations on his list concerning personal development, attitude to family, country, community and environment. He wrote that the obligations of a person to the world are: “Protect and promote resilience, creativity and equal opportunities for all. Be tolerant and respectful of all races, ethics, religions, languages. Learn some languages and at least basic things about other civilizations. Promote the understanding of the diversity of civilizations, their values, thus peaceful cooperation and fair trade.” In our opinion, these are great directions to the future.