Are Human Rights Improving or Regressing?

Guest Post

Around the world, human rights remain an important topic. Over the last 50 years, they have evolved from an abstract goal into a concrete set of rights that remain a major topic of activists, political leaders, and global journalists.

Today, human rights remain a controversial topic. A recent news article in the Mail Online was published with the headline “Human Rights an Affront to Justice”, arguing that payments sanctioned by the European Court of Human Rights had been given out to criminals, threatening the pursuit of justice.

Within Europe and the UK, human rights are often the subject of political debates and discussions. Throughout the world, however, they play a different role. Human rights are an important part of maintaining stability and quality of life in many of the world’s most dangerous and oppressive countries.

Foreign secretary William Hague spoke about the importance of defending human rights at the recent Conservative Party conference in Manchester. Hague praised non-governmental organisations, stating “human rights defenders languishing in the prisons of repressive regimes are not forgotten because of British NGOs.”

The importance of defending human rights becomes clear when confronted with a list of the countries that don’t uphold them. North Korea, Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, and many others are all guilty of ignoring essential human rights and oppressing people.

Looking over the offenders, it becomes immediately clear that defending human rights goes hand in hand with protecting human decency.

With many parts of the world engulfed in war, some people believe that there has been little progress made in defending and ensuring human rights during the last half-century. Human rights as a concept – albeit not as a concrete legal term – have an interesting history that extends back far further than 50 years.

All of the world’s major religions explored and considered the importance of human rights and decency, albeit not necessarily under the banner of human rights. In some ways, the basic human rights that we respect and uphold today were outlined in the Ten Commandments.

The wars of the 20th century stand as important examples of what can occur when governments ignore human rights in favour of other priorities. The human rights that we benefit from today were, not surprisingly, established in the wake of huge destruction and human suffering during World War II and the Holocaust.

On the 10th of December 1948, just three years after the end of World War II, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration is still the most important document on human rights, and the fundamental source for measuring whether or not human rights are still observed and respected today.

51 member states signed the document in December 1948 – a number that’s since grown to include 192 members of the United Nations. The document, which was as the time thought of as idealistic, has since been upheld by the International Court of Justice and the UN Security Council and is regarded as one of the most important documents for keeping the world peaceful and respectful of human decency.

Unfortunately, there are still many countries that do not observe or respect human rights. In many parts of the world, the rights given to women, children, and the poor are abused or ignored. Over 60 million people still live in extreme poverty according to the World Bank.

While the 30 fundamental human rights outlined in the 1948 declaration remain the same, the challenge of upholding these rights continues to trouble many of the UN’s member states. Governments are still forced to consider how to best uphold human rights using political, social, and economic means.

This article was written by Vannin Capital. Visit their website to learn more.


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