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DEFINITION

Human (N) A member of the Homo sapiens species; a


man, woman or child; a person.
Rights (N) Things to which you are entitled or
allowed; freedoms that are guaranteed.
It is a freedom of some kind. It is something to which
you are entitled by virtue of being human.
Human Rights (N) The rights you have simply
because you are human.
Human rights are based on the principle of
respect for the individual. Their fundamental
assumption is that each person is a moral and
rational being who deserves to be treated with
dignity.

They are called human rights -- because they


are universal. Whereas nations or specialized
groups enjoy specific rights that apply only to them,
human rights are the rights to which everyone is
entitledno matter who they are or where they live
simply because they are alive.
The full scope of human rights is very broad.
They mean choice and opportunity. They mean the
freedom to obtain a job, adopt a career, select a
partner of ones choice and raise children. They
include the right to travel widely and the right to
work gainfully without harassment, abuse and threat
of arbitrary dismissal. They even embrace the right
to leisure.
The wake of World War II, resulted finally in the
document called the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and the thirty rights to which all people are
entitled. -- The idea emerged that people should
have certain freedoms.

HISTORY OF HUMAN RIGHTS


A. The Cyrus Cylinder (539 B.C.) The decrees
Cyrus made on human rights were inscribed in the
Akkadian language on a baked-clay cylinder.
Cyrus the Great, the first king of Persia freed the
slaves of Babylon, 539 B.C.
In 539 B.C., the armies of Cyrus the Great, the first king
of ancient Persia, conquered the city of Babylon. But it
was his next actions that marked a major advance for
Man. He freed the slaves, declared that all people had
the right to choose their own religion, and established
racial equality.
These and other decrees were recorded on a bakedclay cylinder in the Akkadian language with
cuneiform script.
Known today as the Cyrus Cylinder this ancient
record has now been recognized as the worlds first
charter of human rights. It is translated into all six
official languages of the United Nations and its
provisions parallel the first four Articles of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Spread of Human Rights From Babylon, the


idea of human rights spread quickly to India, Greece and
Rome.
There the concept of natural law arose, in
observation of the fact that people tended to follow
certain unwritten laws in the course of life, and
Roman law was based on rational ideas derived from
the nature of things.
Documents asserting individual rights, which are
the written precursors to many of todays human rights
documents, such as:
1. the Magna Carta (1215),
2. the Petition of Right (1628),
3. the US Constitution (1787),
4. the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of
the Citizen (1789), and
5. the US Bill of Rights (1791)
Are the written precursors to many of todays
human rights documents.
B. The Magna Carta (1215) Magna Carta, or
Great Charter, was a turning point in human rights.
(signed by the King of England in 1215)
The most significant early influence on the
extensive historical process -- that led to the rule
of constitutional law today in the English-speaking
world.
In 1215, after King John of England violated a number of
ancient laws and customs by which England had been
governed, his subjects forced him to sign the Magna
Carta, which enumerates what later came to be thought
of as HUMAN RIGHTS. Among them was:
1. The right of the church -- to be free from
governmental interference.
2. The rights of all free citizens -- to own and inherit
property and to be protected from excessive taxes.
3. The right of widows who owned property -- to choose
not to remarry, and established principles of due
process and equality before the law.
4. It also contained provisions -- forbidding bribery and
official misconduct.
Widely viewed as one of the most important legal
documents in the development of modern democracy, -the Magna Carta was a crucial turning point in the
struggle to establish freedom.
C. Petition of Right (1628) in 1628 the English
Parliament -- sent this statement of civil liberties to
King Charles I.
The next recorded milestone in the development of
human rights was the Petition of Right, produced in
1628 by the English Parliament and sent to Charles I
as a statement of civil liberties.
Refusal by Parliament to finance the kings
unpopular foreign policy had caused his government
to exact forced loans and to quarter troops in
subjects houses as an economy measure. -Arbitrary arrest and imprisonment for opposing
these policies had produced in Parliament a violent
hostility to Charles and to George Villiers, the Duke
of Buckingham.
The Petition of Right, initiated by Sir Edward
Coke, was based upon earlier statutes and charters
and asserted four principles:

(1) No taxes may be levied -- without consent of


Parliament,
(2) No subject may be imprisoned -- without cause
shown (reaffirmation of the right of habeas
corpus),
(3) No soldiers may be quartered upon the citizenry,
and
(4) Martial law may not be used in time of peace.

D. United States Declaration of Independence


(1776)
Thomas Jefferson penned the American Declaration
of Independence. Its primary author, Thomas Jefferson,
wrote the Declaration as a formal explanation of why
Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence
from Great Britain, -- more than a year after the outbreak
of the American Revolutionary War, and as a statement
announcing that the thirteen American Colonies were no
longer a part of the British Empire.
On July 4, 1776, the United States Congress approved
and issued the Declaration of Independence in several
forms. It was initially published as a printed broadsheet
that was widely distributed and read to the public.
Philosophically, the Declaration stressed two
themes:
1. The individual rights and
2. The right of revolution.
These ideas became widely held by Americans and
spread internationally as well, -- influencing in
particular the French Revolution.
E. The Constitution of the United States of
America (1787) and Bill of Rights (1791)
The Bill of Rights of the US Constitution protects
basic freedoms of United States citizens.
The Constitution of the United States of America
Is the fundamental law of the US federal system of
government and the landmark document of the
Western world.
Written during the summer of 1787 in Philadelphia. It
is the oldest written national constitution in use and
defines the principal organs of government and their
jurisdictions and the basic rights of citizens.
The first ten amendments to the Constitutionthe
Bill of Rights (effect on December 15, 1791) limiting
the powers of the federal government of the United
States and protecting the rights of all citizens, residents
and visitors in American territory.
The Bill of Rights
Protects: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the
right to keep and bear arms, the freedom of assembly
and the freedom to petition.
Prohibits:
1. Unreasonable search and seizure,
2. cruel and unusual punishment and
3. compelled self-incrimination.
4. prohibits Congress from making any law -- respecting
establishment of religion and

5. prohibits the federal government from depriving any


person of life, liberty or property without due process
of law.
In federal criminal cases:
1. It requires indictment by a grand jury for any capital
offense, or infamous crime,
2. Guarantees a speedy public trial -- with an impartial
jury in the district in which the crime occurred, and
3. Prohibits double jeopardy.

Human Rights
Following the French Revolution in 1789, The
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
granted specific freedoms from oppression, as an
expression of the general will.
F.

Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the


Citizen (1789) the people of France brought about
the abolishment of the absolute monarchy and set
the stage for the establishment of the first French
Republic.

Just six weeks after the storming of the Bastille, and


barely three weeks after the abolition of feudalism, -the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the
Citizen (French: La Dclaration des Droits de
lHomme et du Citoyen) was adopted by the National
Constituent Assembly -- as the first step toward
writing a constitution for the Republic of France.

The Declaration proclaims that all citizens are to be


guaranteed the rights of liberty, property, security, and
resistance to oppression. -- It argues that the need for
law derives from the fact that ...the exercise of the
natural rights of each man has only those borders which
assure other members of the society the enjoyment of
these same rights.
Thus, the Declaration sees law as an expression of
the general will, intended to promote this equality
of rights and to forbid only actions harmful to the
society.
G. The First Geneva Convention (1864) The
original document from the first Geneva Convention
in 1864 provided for care to wounded soldiers.
In 1864, sixteen European countries and several
American states attended a conference in Geneva, at the
invitation of the Swiss Federal Council, -- on the initiative
of the Geneva Committee. The diplomatic conference
was held for the purpose of adopting a convention for
the treatment of wounded soldiers in combat.
The main principles laid down in the Convention and
maintained by the later Geneva Conventions provided
for:
1. The obligation to extend care without discrimination
-- to wounded and sick military personnel and
2. Respect for and marking of medical personnel
transports and equipment -- with the distinctive sign
of the red cross on a white background.

H. The United Nations (1945) Fifty nations met in


San Francisco in 1945 and formed the United Nations
to protect and promote peace.
World War II had raged from 1939 to 1945, and as
the end drew near, cities throughout Europe and Asia lay
in smoldering ruins. Millions of people were dead,
millions more were homeless or starving. Russian forces
were closing in on the remnants of German resistance in
Germanys bombed-out capital of Berlin. In the Pacific,
US Marines were still battling entrenched Japanese
forces on such islands as Okinawa.
Delegates from fifty countries met in San
Francisco (In April 1945) with full of optimism and
hope.
The goal of the United Nations Conference on
International Organization was to fashion an
international body to promote peace and prevent future
wars.
The ideals of the organization were stated in the
PREAMBLE to its proposed charter: We the peoples
of the United Nations are determined to save succeeding
generations from the scourge of war, -- which twice in
our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind.
Effectivity of the Charter of the new United Nations
organization: October 24, 1945, a date that is celebrated
each year as United Nations Day.

I.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights


(1948)

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has inspired


a number of other human rights laws and treaties
throughout the world.
By 1948, the United Nations new Human Rights
Commission had captured the worlds attention. Under
the dynamic chairmanship of Eleanor Roosevelt
President Franklin Roosevelts widow, a human rights
champion in her own right and the United States
delegate to the UN
The Commission set out to draft the document that
became the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Roosevelt, credited with its inspiration, referred to
the Declaration as the international Magna Carta for
all mankind. It was adopted by the United Nations on
December 10, 1948.
In its PREAMBLE AND IN ARTICLE 1, the Declaration
unequivocally proclaims the inherent rights of all human
beings: Disregard and contempt for human rights have
resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the
conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in
which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and
belief and freedom from fear and want has been
proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common
people...All human beings are born free and equal in
dignity and rights.

The Member States of the United Nations -- pledged to


work together to promote the thirty Articles of human
rights that, for the first time in history, had been
assembled and codified into a single document. In
consequence, many of these rights, in various forms, are
today part of the constitutional laws of democratic
nations.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Carta for all mankind. It was adopted by the United


Nations on December 10, 1948.

INTRODUCTION
On October 24, 1945, in the aftermath of World War II,
the UNITED NATIONS came into being as an
intergovernmental organization, -- with the purpose of
saving future generations from the devastation of
international conflict.
December 10, 1948. United Nations representatives
from all regions of the world formally adopted the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In its preamble and in Article 1, the Declaration


unequivocally proclaims the inherent rights of all human
beings: Disregard and contempt for human rights have
resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the
conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in
which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and
belief and freedom from fear and want has been
proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common
people....All human beings are born free and equal in
dignity and rights.

6 Principal bodies: The Charter of the United Nations


established six principal bodies, including:
1. the General Assembly,
2. the Security Council,
3. the International Court of Justice, and
4. In relation to human rights, an Economic and Social
Council (ECOSOC).

The Member States of the United Nations pledged to


work together to promote the thirty Articles of human
rights that, for the first time in history, had been
assembled and codified into a single document. In
consequence, many of these rights, in various forms, are
today part of the constitutional laws of democratic
nations.

ECOSOC: The UN Charter empowered ECOSOC to


establish commissions in economic and social fields and
for the promotion of human rights. One of these was
the United Nations Human Rights Commission,
which, under the chairmanship of Eleanor Roosevelt,
saw to the creation of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights.

INTERNATIONAL BILL OF HUMAN RIGHTS

December 10, 1948: The Declaration was drafted by


representatives of all regions of the world and
encompassed all legal traditions. Formally adopted by
the United Nations on December 10, 1948,
It is the most universal human rights document in
existence, delineating the thirty fundamental rights
that form the basis for a democratic society.
Following this historic act, the Assembly called upon all
Member Countries to publicize the text of the
Declaration and to cause it to be disseminated,
displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and
other educational institutions, without distinction based
on the political status of countries or territories.
Today, the Declaration is a living document that has
been accepted as a contract between a government and
its people throughout the world. According to the
Guinness Book of World Records, it is the most
translated document in the world.
International Human
Rights Law
By 1948, the United Nations new Human Rights
Commission had captured the attention of the world.
Under the dynamic chairmanship of Eleanor Roosevelt
President Franklin Roosevelts widow, a human rights
champion in her own right and the United States
delegate to the UNthe Commission set out to draft the
document that became the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights. Roosevelt, credited with its inspiration,
referred to the Declaration as the international Magna

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an ideal


standard held in common by nations around the world,
but it bears no force of law. Thus, from 1948 to 1966, the
UN Human Rights Commissions main task was to create
a body of international human rights law based on the
Declaration, and to establish the mechanisms needed to
enforce its implementation and use.
The Human Rights Commission produced two major
documents: the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Both
became international law in 1976. Together with the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, these two
covenants comprise what is known as the International
Bill of Human Rights.
The ICCPR focuses on issues such as the right to life,
freedom of speech, religion and voting. The ICESCR
focuses on food, education, health and shelter. Both
covenants proclaim these rights for all people and forbid
discrimination.
Furthermore, Article 26 of the ICCPR established a
Human Rights Committee of the United Nations.
Composed of eighteen human rights experts, the
Committee is responsible for ensuring that each
signatory to the ICCPR complies with its terms. The
Committee examines reports submitted by countries
every five years (to ensure they are in compliance with
the ICCPR), and issues findings based on a countrys
performance.
Many countries that ratified the ICCPR also agreed that
the Human Rights Committee may investigate

allegations by individuals and organizations that the


State has violated their rights. Before appealing to the
Committee, the complainant must exhaust all legal
recourse in the courts of that country. After investigation,
the Committee publishes the results. These findings
have great force. If the Committee upholds the
allegations, the State must take measures to remedy the
abuse.

The American Convention on Human Rights pertains to


the inter-American statesthe Americasand was
entered into force in 1978.

SUBSEQUENT UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS


DOCUMENTS

The Asian Human Rights Charter (1986) was created by


the Asian Human Rights Commission, founded that year
by a group of jurists and human rights activists in Hong
Kong. The Charter is described as a peoples charter,
because no governmental charter has been issued to
date.

In addition to the covenants in the International Bill of


Human Rights, the United Nations has adopted more
than twenty principal treaties further elaborating human
rights. These include conventions to prevent and prohibit
specific abuses such as torture and genocide and to
protect specific vulnerable populations such as refugees
(Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951),
women (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination Against Women, 1979), and children
(Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989). Other
conventions cover racial discrimination, prevention of
genocide, political rights of women, prohibition of
slaveryand torture.
Each of these treaties has established a committee of
experts to monitor implementation of the treaty
provisions by its State parties.
EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights served as the
inspiration for the European Convention on Human
Rights, one of the most significant agreements in the
European Community. The Convention was adopted in
1953 by the Council of Europe, an intergovernmental
organization established in 1949 and composed of fortyseven European Community Member States. This body
was formed to strengthen human rights and promote
democracy and the rule of law.
The Convention is enforced by the European Court of
Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. Any person
claiming to be the victim of a violation in one of the
forty-seven countries in the European Community which
has signed and ratified the Convention, may seek relief
with the European Court. One must first have exhausted
all recourse in the courts of their home country and have
filed an application for relief with the European Court of
Human Rights in Strasbourg.

African states have created their own Charter of Human


and Peoples Rights (1981), and Muslim states have
created the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam
(1990).

HUMAN RIGHTS DOCUMENTS


1. Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights adopted and opened for
signature, ratification and accession by General
Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966
entry into force 23 March 1976, in accordance with
Article 9
2. Second Optional Protocol to the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the
abolition of the death penalty adopted and proclaimed
by General Assembly resolution 44/128 of 15 December
1989
3. International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights adopted and opened for signature,
ratification and accession by General Assembly
resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966 entry into
force 3 January 1976, in accordance with Article 27
4. Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms as amended by Protocol No. 11
with Protocol Nos. 1, 4, 6, 7, 12 and 13
5. African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples
Rights (adopted 27 June 1981, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/67/3
rev. 5, 21 I.L.M. 58 [1982], entered into force 21 October
1986)
6. American Convention on Human Rights O.A.S.Treaty
Series No. 36, 1144 U.N.T.S. 123, entered into force July
18, 1978, reprinted in Basic Documents Pertaining to
Human Rights in the Inter-American System,
OEA/Ser.L.V/II.82 doc.6 rev.1 at 25 (1992)

HUMAN RIGHTS INSTRUMENTS FOR THE


AMERICAS, AFRICA AND ASIA
In North and South America, Africa and Asia, regional
documents for the protection and promotion of human
rights extend the International Bill of Human Rights.

Human Rights
Violations

Human rights advocates agree that, sixty years after its


issue, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is still
more a dream than reality. Violations exist in every part
of the world. For example, Amnesty Internationals 2009
World Report and other sources show that individuals
are:

Tortured or abused in at least 81 countries

Face unfair trials in at least 54 countries

Restricted in their freedom of expression in at


least 77 countries

Not only that, but women and children in particular are


marginalized in numerous ways, the press is not free in
many countries, and dissenters are silenced, too often
permanently. While some gains have been made over
the course of the last six decades, human rights
violations still plague the world today.
To help inform you of the true situation throughout the
world, this section provides examples of violations of six
Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(UDHR):
ARTICLE 3 THE RIGHT TO LIVE FREE
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of
person.
An estimated 6,500 people were killed in 2007 in armed
conflict in Afghanistannearly half being noncombatant
civilian deaths at the hands of insurgents. Hundreds of
civilians were also killed in suicide attacks by armed
groups.
In Brazil in 2007, according to official figures, police
killed at least 1,260 individualsthe highest total to
date. All incidents were officially labeled acts of
resistance and received little or no investigation.
In Uganda, 1,500 people die each week in the internally
displaced person camps. According to the World Health
Organization, 500,000 have died in these camps.
Vietnamese authorities forced at least 75,000 drug
addicts and prostitutes into 71 overpopulated rehab
camps, labeling the detainees at high risk of
contracting HIV/AIDS but providing no treatment.
ARTICLE 4 NO SLAVERY
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and
the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
In northern Uganda, the LRA (Lords Resistance Army)
guerrillas have kidnapped 20,000 children over the past
twenty years and forced them into service as soldiers or
sexual slaves for the army.
In Guinea-Bissau, children as young as five are trafficked
out of the country to work in cotton fields in southern

Senegal or as beggars in the capital city. In Ghana,


children five to fourteen are tricked with false promises
of education and future into dangerous, unpaid jobs in
the fishing industry.
In Asia, Japan is the major destination country for
trafficked women, especially women coming from the
Philippines and Thailand. UNICEF estimates 60,000 child
prostitutes in the Philippines.
The US State Department estimates 600,000 to 820,000
men, women and children are trafficked across
international borders each year, half of whom are
minors, including record numbers of women and girls
fleeing from Iraq. In nearly all countries, including
Canada, the US and the UK, deportation or harassment
are the usual governmental responses, with no
assistance services for the victims.
In the Dominican
ring led to the
migrant workers.
officers received
in the operation.

Republic, the operations of a trafficking


death by asphyxiation of 25 Haitian
In 2007, two civilians and two military
lenient prison sentences for their part

In Somalia in 2007, more than 1,400 displaced Somalis


and Ethiopian nationals died at sea in trafficking
operations.
ARTICLE 5 NO TORTURE
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
In 2008, US authorities continued to hold 270 prisoners
in Guantnamo Bay, Cuba, without charge or trial,
subjecting them to water-boarding, torture that
simulates drowning. Former-President George W. Bush
authorized the CIA to continue secret detention and
interrogation, despite its violation of international law.
In Darfur, violence, atrocities and abduction are rampant
and outside aid all but cut off. Women in particular are
the victims of unrestrained assault, with more than 200
rapes in the vicinity of a displaced persons camp in one
five-week period, with no effort by authorities to punish
the perpetrators.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, acts of torture
and ill treatment are routinely committed by government
security services and armed groups, including sustained
beatings, stabbings and rapes of those in custody.
Detainees are held incommunicado, sometimes in secret
detention sites. In 2007, the Republican Guard
(presidential guard) and Special Services police division
in Kinshasa arbitrarily detained and tortured numerous
individuals labeled as critics of the government.
ARTICLE 13 FREEDOM TO MOVE
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and
residence within the borders of each State.

2. Everyone has the right to leave any country,


including his own, and to return to his country.
In Myanmar, thousands of citizens were detained,
including 700 prisoners of conscience, most notably
Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. In retaliation for
her political activities, she has been imprisoned or under
house arrest for twelve of the last eighteen years, and
has refused government offers of release that would
require her to leave the country.
In Algeria, refugees and asylum-seekers were frequent
victims of detention, expulsion or ill treatment. Twentyeight individuals from sub-Saharan African countries with
official refugee status from the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were deported to
Mali after being falsely tried, without legal counsel or
interpreters, on charges of entering Algeria illegally.
They were dumped near a desert town where a Malian
armed group was active, without food, water or medical
aid.
In Kenya, authorities violated international refugee law
when they closed the border to thousands of people
fleeing armed conflict in Somalia. Asylum-seekers were
illegally detained at the Kenyan border without charge or
trial and forcibly returned to Somalia.
In northern Uganda, 1.6 million citizens remained in
displacement camps. In the Acholi subregion, the area
most affected by armed conflict, 63 percent of the 1.1
million people displaced in 2005 were still living in
camps in 2007, with only 7,000 returned permanently to
their places of origin.
ARTICLE 18 FREEDOM OF THOUGHT
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought,
conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to
change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone
or in community with others and in public or private, to
manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice,
worship and observance.
In Myanmar, the military junta crushed peaceful
demonstrations led by monks, raided and closed
monasteries, confiscated and destroyed property, shot,
beat and detained protesters, and harassed or held
hostage the friends and family members of the
protesters.
In China, Falun Gong practitioners were singled out for
torture and other abuses while in detention. Christians
were persecuted for practicing their religion outside
state-sanctioned channels.
In Kazakhstan, local authorities in a community near
Almaty authorized the destruction of twelve homes, all
belonging to Hare Krishna members, falsely charging
that the land on which the homes were built had been
illegally acquired. Only homes belonging to members of
the Hare Krishna community were destroyed
ARTICLE 19 FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and


expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions
without interference and to seek, receive and impart
information and ideas through any media and regardless
of frontiers.
In Sudan, dozens of human rights defenders were
arrested and tortured by national intelligence and
security forces.
In Ethiopia, two prominent human rights defenders were
convicted on false charges and sentenced to nearly
three years in prison.
In Somalia, a prominent human rights defender was
murdered.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the
government attacks and threatens human rights
defenders and restricts freedom of expression and
association. In 2007, provisions of the 2004 Press Act
were used by the government to censor newspapers and
limit freedom of expression.
Russia repressed political dissent, pressured or shut
down
independent
media
and
harassed
nongovernmental
organizations.
Peaceful
public
demonstrations were dispersed with force, and lawyers,
human rights defenders and journalists were threatened
and attacked. Since 2000, the murders of seventeen
journalists, all critical of government policies and
actions, remain unsolved.
In Iraq, at least thirty-seven Iraqi employees of media
networks were killed in 2008, and a total of 235 since
the invasion of March 2003, making Iraq the worlds
most dangerous place for journalists
ARTICLE 21 RIGHT TO DEMOCRACY
1. Everyone has the right to take part in the
government of his country, directly or through freely
chosen representatives.
2. Everyone has the right to equal access to public
service in his country.
3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the
authority of government; this will shall be expressed in
periodic and genuine elections which shall be by
universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret
vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
In Zimbabwe, hundreds of human rights defenders and
members of the main opposition party, the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), were arrested for
participating in peaceful gatherings.
In Pakistan, thousands of lawyers, journalists, human
rights defenders and political activists were arrested for
demanding democracy, the rule of law and an
independent judiciary.

In Cuba, at the end of 2007, sixty two prisoners of


conscience remained incarcerated for their nonviolent
political views or activities.
SUMMARY
Human rights exist, as embodied in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and the entire body of
international human rights law. They are recognizedat
least in principleby most nations and form the heart of
many national constitutions. Yet the actual situation in
the world is far distant from the ideals envisioned in the
Declaration.
To some, the full realization of human rights is a remote
and unattainable goal. Even international human rights

laws are difficult to enforce and pursuing a complaint


can take years and a great deal of money. These
international laws serve as a restraining function but are
insufficient to provide adequate human rights protection,
as evidenced by the stark reality of abuses perpetrated
daily.
Discrimination is rampant throughout the world.
Thousands are in prison for speaking their minds. Torture
and politically motivated imprisonment, often without
trial, are commonplace, condoned and practicedeven
in some democratic countries.