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International Bill Of Rights

Civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights, inter alia, are the subject matter of international bill of human rights. The formulation of the bill and its content was debated during adoption of the Universal Declaration of 1948 and two binding international human rights treaties of 1966. The legal force of 1948 declaration was questioned time and again and thus two human rights treaties have also been debated on preferential ground.

Over time it has been debated that the contents of the rights and the states treatments on enforcements of rights are also not satisfactory, while in the changing circumstances new generation of rights are not falling within the original scheme of bill of human rights. In this background this chapter demonstrates the scheme of formulation of international bill of human rights, universal declaration and its utility, contemporary understanding of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, their relations with each other, various generations of rights and states reservations including Indian policy.

The term "international bill of rights" refers to three documents drafted under the auspicious of the United Nations, each proclaiming a list of fundamental human rights: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

In 1948, for the first time, countries agreed on a comprehensive list of inalienable human rights, In December of that year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a milestone that would profoundly influence the development of international human rights law.

In December 1966, the UN General Assembly adopted two international treaties that would further shape international human rights: the International Covenant on Economic, social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). These are often referred to as the "the International Covenants".

Together, the UDHR and these two Covenants are known as the International Bill of Human Rights.

The International Bill of Rights:

When a state becomes a party to an International Instruments pertaining to human rights treaty, it assumes obligations and duties under international law to respect and protect human rights and to refrain from certain acts.

Three of the most important international instruments pertaining to human rights are collectively known as the International Bill of Human Rights.
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and cultural Rights (ICESCR)
There are differences among States in how categories of rights are weighed, based on the domestic balance between state, community, and individual rights. Culture and religion also affect States view of these categories of rights. However, the international community has agreed that there are certain human rights and freedoms so fundamental human dignity that States have entered into agreements to ensure non-derogation of those rights.

The specific rights enumerated in various human rights instruments can be divided into several categories:
  • Individual security rights: protects individuals against crimes such as murder, massacre, torture, and rape.
  • Due process rights (5th and 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution): protects individuals against abuse of the legal system, such as imprisonment without trial, trial with a jury, and excessive punishment.
  • Liberty rights (1st and 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution): protects freedom of belief, freedom of religion, freedom of movement, freedom to assemble, and freedom of association.
  • Political rights: protects an individual's liberty to participate in politics, including activities such as communicating, protesting, voting, and serving in political office.
  • Equality rights: protect equal citizenship, equality before the law, and non-discrimination.
  • Social rights: protects the right to access education for all citizens and prevents severe poverty or starvation.

Universal Declaration Of Human Rights

In the aftermath of World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt spearheaded the U.S involvement in the creation of the United Nations, as well as the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Eleanor Roosevelt's diplomatic efforts with the Soviet Bloc countries in particular assisted greatly in the final acceptance of the UDHR. On December 10, 1948 the United States voted in favor of the resolution to adopt the declaration before the United Nations General Assembly.

Legal force
Many scholars assert that all of the rights enumerated in the UDHR have become customary international law.

Provision related to Human Rights in India
According to the National Human Right Commission of India, Human Rights as the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.
  1. National Human Rights Commission:
    • ➢ The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India was established in 1993.
    • ➢ The statute under which it is established is the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993.
    • ➢ The Act provides for the establishment of State Human Rights Commissions.
  2. Human Rights as Incorporated in Indian Laws:
    • ➢ Indian Constitution incorporated several provisions of human rights in Indian Constitution.
    • ➢ Part III of Fundamental Rights from Article 14 to 32.
    • ➢ Articles 14 to 18 of the Constitution guarantee the right to equality to every citizen of India.
    • ➢ Article 19 deals with freedom of speech and expression and Article 21 provides Right to life and liberty.
  3. In case of violation of fundamental human rights.
  4. The citizen can move to the Supreme court under Article 32 and High Courts under Article 226.
  5. Directive Principles of State Policy from Articles 36 to 51.
  6. India is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and has ratified ICESCR and ICCPR.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
Articles 1 to 21 of UDHR deal with the substantive provisions relating to civil and political rights. These rights can broadly be categories into three groups such as rights relating to the rule of law, liberty of people and freedoms.
  1. Rights relating to rule of law:
    The preamble of the UDHR proclaims that human rights should be protected by the rule of law. The reason behind of this proclamation was that even before the adoption of UDHR, most of its rights under Articles 1 to 11 have been incorporated into the domestic legal systems of most countries. These rights related to several basic elements of the rule of law which are set forth as rights such as:
    1. rights to life, liberty, equal dignity, and non-distinction, and personal security (Articles 1, 2 and 3)
    2. bans on slavery and torture (Articles 4 and 5)
    3. right to legal recognition, equality before the law (Article 6 and 7)
    4. effective remedies for violation of fundamental rights (Article 8)
    5. freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention (Article 9)
    6. guarantees of fair criminal procedures, the presumptions of innocence (Article 10)
    7. the principle of non-retroactivity in criminal law (Article 11)

  2. Rights relating to liberties of people:
    Articles 12 to 17 of the UDHR are primarily concerned with the liberties of people they live and interact with one another in civil and political society.

    They include:
    1. right to be free of arbitrary interference with one's privacy, family, home or correspondence and from arbitrary attacks upon one's honour and reputation (Article 12).
    2. the freedom of movement and the right to return: the right to seek and enjoy political asylum (Article 13).
    3. right to seek asylum (article 14).
    4. the right to nationality (Article 15).
    5. the right to marry and to found a family, the right of the family as such to protection by society and the state (Article 16).
    6. the right to own property (article 17).

    The scope of its application of these rights may be varied in different social and political contexts. Thus in case of property right different countries may legitimately come to different conclusions about the condition under which private property may be taken for public use.
  3. Rights Relating to Freedom
    Articles 18 to 21 of the UDHR provides for the rights relating to freedom such as:
    1. freedom of religion and belief (Article 18).
    2. freedom of opinion, expression, and communication (Article 19).
    3. freedom of assembly and association (Article 20).
    4. the right to take part in government and equal access to public service (Article 21).
The right of religious freedom is one of the oldest internationally recognized human rights. While the travaux preparatory reveal that little attention was paid to the protection of the freedom of nonbelievers. such freedom seems to be implicit in the word's religion' or belief. The scope and ambit of freedom of religion is concerned with right of individual to practice and propagate not only matters of faith or belief but also all those rituals and observer which are regarded as integral part of religion by the followers of its doctrines.

Thus religions are a matter of faith but are not necessarily theistic and there are well known religions in India like Buddhism and Jainism which do not believe in God. On the other hand. though a religion undoubtedly has its basis in a system of beliefs or doctrines which are regarded by those who profess that religion as conductive to their spiritual well-being. it would not be correct to say religion is nothing else but a doctrine or belief.

International covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
Articles 22 to 28 of the UDHR contain the economic, social and cultural rights. Article 22, on the right to social security, provides: "everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality."

Article 23(3), set in the context of right to work. provides that "everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented. if necessary, by other means of social protection". The right to rest and leisure (Article 24), right to standard of living adequate for the health of himself and of his family (Article 25), right to education (Article 26). right to participate in cultural life (Article 27), right to good social and international order (Article 28) are component part of the economic. social and cultural rights of the UDHR.

The UDHR laid down under Article 29 certain limitation to these rights and freedom, by providing that everyone has duties to the community in which alone final and full development of his personality is possible. According to Article 29(2) rights shall be attribute to the individuals subject to just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

The reason behind for inclusion of article 29 in the UDHR is that absolute individual rights cannot be guaranteed by the modern state. The guarantee of each of the above rights is therefore limited itself by conferring upon the state power to impose reasonable restrictions by the law as may be necessary in the large interest of the community. The rights under Articles 1 to 28 of the UDHR are given priority and impose the responsibility upon the state, group and person to give preference. Thus Article 30 provides that nothing in this declaration may be interpreted for the destruction of any rights and freedoms set forth herein.

The rights covered by the Covenants
The ICESCR and the ICCPR set out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that everyone is entitled to:
    • Freedom from discrimination
    • Right to equality between men and women
    • Freedom from torture
    • Freedom from slavery
    • Right to liberty and security of person
    • Right to be treated with humanity in detention
    • Freedom of movement
    • Freedom from discrimination
    • Right to equality between men and women
    • Freedom to choose and accept work
    • Right to just and favorable conditions at work
    • Right to form trade unions
    • Right to strike
    • Right to social security
Examples of violations:
Your civil, political, economic, cultural, and social rights can be violated through various means. Violations occur when a government fails in its obligations to respect, protect and fulfil these rights. Often a violation of one of these rights is linked to a violation of other rights. Examples include:
  • Forcibly evicting people from their homes (the right to adequate housing and the right to choose his or her place of residence)
  • Water treatment facilities contaminating drinking water (the right to health and the right to life)
  • Failure to ensure a minimum wage sufficient for a decent living (the right to work and the right to equality before the law)
  • Denying a person access to information and services related to sexual and reproductive health (the right to health and the right to life)

The international bill of human rights consists of the five core human rights treaties of the united nation that function to advance the fundamental freedoms and to protect the basic human rights of all people. The bill influences the decisions and actions of government, state and non- state actors to make economics, social and cultural rights a top priority in the formation and implementation of national, regional and international policy and law.

Student of 9th Semester BBA-LLB, Manav Rachna University, Faridabad

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