Victims have experienced several obstacles in establishing corporate
accountability for human rights breaches, which stem not only from a partially
completed and inadequate domestic legal order but also from practical obstacles
to the institutional and regulatory framework's implementation.
As a result,
creative normative methods to reform international and local legal systems on
business and human rights with the goal of greater enforcement are required. As
a result, their access to justice has been limited both domestically and
internationally. the present study looks at methods that the UN has used to
enforce Human Rights in effective ways.
International human rights law obliges States to respect, implement, and enforce
the treaty bodies they have ratified at a national level. Mechanisms and bodies
have been established within the United Nations' System to monitor the States'
overall compliance with human rights law. Human rights can and should be
enforced domestically through national human rights mechanisms or court systems,
when these rights are incorporated into domestic law.
However, in some cases,
where domestic legal proceedings fail to address human rights violations,
mechanisms and procedures for individual complaints or communications are
available at regional and international levels. 
The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1945 by
51 countries. It was created against the backdrop of the Second World War as a
commitment by countries to enhance international peace and security, develop
friendly relations between countries, and promote human rights. It is from this
framework that the current human rights system emerged. There are currently 193
States that are members of the UN.
The numerous UN committees provides a forum
for all Member States to air their views and take action on a number of issues.
Although typically known for its peace-keeping and humanitarian assistance, the
work of the UN has expanded to incorporate a number of different issues,
including counter-terrorism, landmines, sustainable development, gender
equality, international health, refugee protection, and environment, human
rights, and disaster relief.
The Charter of the United Nations was signed on 26
June, 1945, and came into force on 24 October, 1945. It is the document
establishing the UN and sets out purposes and principles of the UN,
responsibilities of members and the functions and powers of different organs
that make up the UN. Given the context of its creation, it also sets out how the
UN will address threats to the peace, breaches of the peace and acts of
aggression and international economic and social cooperation.
The United Nations was created to:
The UN human rights monitoring mechanisms can be classified into two main
- Maintain international peace and security;
- Develop friendly relations among nations, based on the principles of
equal rights and self- determination of peoples;
- Achieve international cooperation in solving international problems and
promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;
and be a centre for harmonising the actions of nations in the attainment of these
UN Charter-based bodies and procedures and Treaty-based bodies and procedures.
The former derive from provisions in the Charter of the United Nations (UN); the
latter are bodies created under international human rights treaties. These two
mechanisms complement each other.
A series of international human rights
treaties and other instruments adopted since 1945 have expanded the body of
international human rights law. They include the Convention on the Prevention
and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948), the International Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965), the Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), the
Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities (2006), among others.
Human Rights in the Un Charter
The founders of the UN, not content to treat human rights as merely one among
many shared objectives of UN member governments, implicitly articulated a theory
of peace according to which respect for human rights & fundamental freedoms is a
necessary condition for peace within & among nations. The Charter's preamble
places "faith in fundamental human rights" immediately after its aim "to save
succeeding generations from the scourge of war".
Yet the Charter does not apply
this theory to the relative powers of the UN's main organs. Instead, the human
rights provisions are relegated, in the Chapter on the purposes of the UN, to
achieving international cooperation (art.1(3)) and in the chapter on
international economic & social cooperation, to promoting "universal respect
for, and observance of, human rights & fundamental freedoms for all without
distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion" (art.55).
The UN General
Assembly (UNGA) may initiate studies & make recommendations for the purposes of
"assisting in the realization of human rights"(art.13(1)) and the Economic &
Social Council may make recommendations & draft conventions on human rights
(art.62(2) &(3)) as well as set up commissions, including to promote human
rights (art.68), which it did in 1946 by establishing the UN Commission on Human
Rights (replaced in 2006 by the UN Human Rights Council or HRC).
Promoting and Protecting Human Rights Through the United Nations
The space for UN action in a wide range of human rights concern has been opened
over that last thirty years owing to a political willingness to limit the
scope of Charter Article 2(7) (domestic jurisdiction) and expand that of the
Article 56 (cooperation with the UN to achieve human rights). The UN does
much today that would have been deemed "intervention" by most states a few
decades ago, e.g. investigation ofabuse, adoption of resolutions by UNGA and
Human Rights Council explicitly denouncing countries by name, sending special
envoys and rapporteurs, receiving complaint from individuals, addressing urgent
appeals to governments, and conducting inquiries. 
Indeed the range of UN action to realize its Charter mandate to promote and
protect human rights covers at least three means of preventing harm (education
and information, standard setting and interpretation, and institution building
within Member States) and five to respond human rights situation and protect the
human rights (monitoring through reporting fact finding, adjudication, political
supervision, humanitarian action, and coercive action).
Human Rights Council
- Promotion And Protection Through Un Human Rights Mechanisms
Originally, the principal body responsible for human rights in the UN was the
Commission on Human Rights. It carried out bulk of the standard- setting
activity of the early years following the adoption by the UDHR. In the 1950s and
early 1960s, the first human rights treaties adopted by the UN related to
trafficking and prostitution, the political rights of women, the nationality of
married women, and consent to marriage, minimum age for marriage, and
registration of marriages.
A major milestone was the adoption in 1966 of the two
international covenants- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (ICESCR) & the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
which together transformed the aspirational rights of the UDHR into binding
treaty law. A second milestone was the systematic advancement of women's rights
in the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women (CEDAW). In the 1970's & 1980's the UN adopted other core human rights
treaties on racial discrimination, torture, children's rights, & in the 1990's
and 2000's rights of migrant workers and persons with disabilities. For all
their shortcomings, the expansion of the thirty articles of the UDHR into a
considerable body of treaty law, with an impressive amount of interpretative
work by nine treaty- monitoring bodies is an undeniable UN accomplishment.
The Commission, consisting of 53 governments elected by ECOSOC to which it
reported, was replaced in 2006 by the Human Rights Council, consisting of 47
governments elected by the UNGA, to which it report. Before and following the
2006 reform, there has arisen an array of mechanisms based either on the Charter
and applicable to all UN member states or on treaties binding only states that
have ratified them and which are administered by the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). It has thus become traditional to
distinguish Charter- based procedures and treaty- based procedures.
- Promoting And Protecting Human Rights Through Charter- Based
Most of our discussion of the Charter- based procedures relates to the principal
UN organs with responsibility over human rights, namely, the UNGA (especially
its subsidiary body the UNHRC), ECOSOC, and the Secretariat (principally the
OHCHR). However, other units of the UN secretariat have significant human rights
responsibilities, such as office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),
Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and Department of Peacekeeping Operations
Moreover, other main organs of the UN occasionally address human rights,
such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the Security Council. In
addition, there are funds and programs of ECOSOC and the UNGA, which the United
Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Fund for Population
Activities (UNFPA), and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
Among the 14 Specialized Agencies, which are autonomous
organizations coordinated by ECOSOC and the UNGA, the International Labour
Organization (ILO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO), and the
World Health Organization (WHO) contribute in various ways to human rights.
OHCHR and six other agencies (UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNESCO, WHO, AND FAO) adopted
in 2003 the "Common understanding among UN Agencies on a Human Rights- Based
Approach to Development Cooperation," which defined a number of criteria for a
UN standard Human Rights- Based Approach (HRBA).
These agencies will not be further reviewed as I proceed with some background on
the OHCHR and the UNHRC, followed by brief discussion of the treaty based
approach, procedures that function under the UNHRC.
- Promoting and Protecting Human Rights Through Treaty- Based
Nine of the UN human rights treaties have functioning monitoring committees,
called "treaties bodies," that examine states parties reports on progress made
and problems encountered, and formulate their observations on what needs to be
done to comply with the obligations of the treaty in question: the 1966 ICESCR &
ICCPR, the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of
Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of all
forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the 1984 Convention against
Torture & Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), 1989
Convention on the Rights of the child (CRC), the 1990 International Convention
on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers & Members of their
Families (CMW), the 2006 International Convention on the Rights of persons with
Disabilities (CPRD), and the 2006 International Convention for the Protection of
all Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED). A tenth treaty body, the
subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, monitors places of detention under
UN Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental body within the UN system made
up of 47 States responsible for strengthening the promoting & protection of
human rights around the globe. Human Rights Commission was replaced by the Human
Rights Council. The establishment of the Human Rights Council is seen as a key
component of comprehensive UN reforms. The Council is designed to be an
improvement over commission, which perceived human rights abusers were elected
as members. The General Assembly resolution creating the Council increased the
number of meetings per year & introduced a "universal periodic review" (UPR)
process to assess each Member State's fulfilment of its human rights obligations
& commitments in a manner which ensures universality of coverage and equal
treatment with respect to all States. The review shall be cooperative mechanism
based on an interactive dialogue with the full involvement of the country
concerned and with consideration given to its capacity-building needs.
Like the Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Council continues to
collaborate with the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
It works to maintain & improve the system of special mandates, expert advice &
complaint procedures instituted by the HR Commission. Under the General Assembly
resolution of 15 March 2006, the Council also:
- Promotes human rights education, advisory services, technical assistance,
& capacity building with relevant Member States.
- Serves as a forum for dialogue on thematic human rights issues and
recommends opportunities for the development of international human rights
law to the UN General Assembly and
- Promotes the full implementation of human rights obligations by Member
States, and follow up on human rights commitments from other UN conferences
The Human Rights Council servers as the main UN Forum for intergovernmental
cooperation & dialogue on human rights issues. Its focus is to help member
States to meet their human rights obligations through dialogue, capacity
building and technical assistance. The Council also makes recommendations to the
UN General assembly for further development of international law in the field of
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Universal Periodic Review: (UPR)
UPR is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights record of
all members of the UN every four years. UPR is a State-driven process, under the
auspices of the Human Rights Council which provides the opportunity for each
State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights
situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.
important feature of UPR is to ensure equal treatment for every country when
their human rights situations are assessed. Observer States may attend and speak
at the working group, and relevant stakeholders (such as NGOs) may also attend
the meetings and present information that is assembled by the OHCHR. The UPR of
India was undertaken on 10 June 2008 in the 15th meeting of the
Council. According to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, UPR "has great
potential to promote and protect human rights in the darkest corners of the
world". UPR is based on the principles of the UN Charter, the UDHR and other
human rights instruments to which the State under review is a party.
Process of UPR:
Under UPR the human rights situation of all UN member States is renewed every 4
to 4.5 years. 42 States are reviewed each year during the working group on the
UPR is composed of all 47 Member States of the HR Council chaired by the
President of the Human Rights Council. The review takes place in Geneva.
- Three key Stages:
The UPR comprises three stages:
- Review of the human rights situation of the States under Review
- Implementation between two reviews (4.5 years) by the States under
Review of the recommendations received and voluntary pledges made.
- Reporting at the next review on the implementation of those
recommendations and pledges and on the human rights situation in the country
since the previous review.
- Proceedings of the review:
Each review commences with the presentation by the States under review of its
National Report and its response to advance questions. Advance questions are
submitted by states in writing before 10 days of the review. Following the
presentation and interactive dialogue takes place during which states ask
questions and make recommendations on human rights situation in the country
under review. During this interactive dialogue the State under review takes
the floor regularly to answer questions and to comment on recommendations. At
the end the State under review concludes.
- Human Rights Obligations:
The following human rights obligations are reviewed. Human rights obligations
- The Charter of the UN
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- Human Rights Treaties ratified by the concerned State (e.g. Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights).
- Voluntary pledges and commitments made by the State.
- Applicable international humanitarian law (e.g. Four Geneva Conventions
- Outcome of Working Group Review:
This report contains the summary of the interactive dialogue, responses by the
State under Review and recommendations along with full list of recommendations
made by States. The report is adopted first time during the working group
session a few days after the review. This report is then adopted by the Human
rights Council in the plenary session by consensus.
- Role of non-governmental organisation in UPR:
UPR is a State driven exercise. The NGOs have limited role in it. However, they
have many opportunities to take part and influence the UPR process. Their
participation can be in the national consultations held by the State under
review send information on the human rights situation in the country, lobby
members of the working group, take the floor during the adoption of the report
by the Human Rights Council and monitor and participate in the implementation by
the State under review of the UPR recommendations. NGOs cannot take the floor
during the review.
The UN High Commissioner for Human rights is appointed by the Secretary General
of the UN with the approval of the General of the UN and holds office for of
four years. His office is located at Geneva with a branch office in New York. He
has special responsibilities for promoting and protecting human rights. He was
required to report annually to the Commission on Human Rights and, through the
ECOSOC to the General Assembly. Now the Commission has been replaced by the
Human Rights Council in 2006, directly reports to the General Assembly of the
UN. The Centre for Human Rights was to implement the policies proposed by the
The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the principal human rights official of
the UN. He heads office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and
spearheads UN human rights efforts. He offers leadership, works objectively,
educates and takes action to empower individuals and assists States in upholding
human rights. He is part of the UN Secretariat.
- Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) was established at
Geneva with a liaison office in New York. The office of the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights and Centre for Human Rights were merged and now
there is single OHCHR since 1997. The OHCHR is headquartered at Geneva with a
liaison office in New York and contact centres in various countries.
discharges various functions relating to promotion, implementation and
international cooperation of human rights. The OHCHR works with governments,
national institutions, and civil society, regional and international
organisations in order to strengthen the UN rights programme. As a part of the
UN, the OHCHR is mandated to promote and protect all rights of the UN Charter,
international human rights law and treaties.
This includes prevention of human
rights violations, promoting international cooperation to protect human rights
and attempting to integrate a human rights approach within all works carried out
by the agencies of the UN. The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the
principal human rights official of the UN Headquarters at Geneva. He is a part
of the UN Secretariat.
- OHCHR has four major divisions:
- Research and Right to Development Division - It is responsible for
thematic research and policy development.
- Human Rights Treaties Division It is responsible for supporting the
work of the 10 human rights treaty bodies that are mandated to monitor
national- level implementation of international human rights treaties.
- The field, operation and Technical Cooperation Division It supports
the work of human rights field presences and leads OHCHR engagement with countries
on human rights issues.
- Human Rights Council and Special Procedures Division- It provides
substantive and organisational support to the Human Rights Council, its UPR
mechanism, special procedure and other subsidiary bodies. It also provides
secretarial support to Global Alliance of National Human rights Institutions (GANHRI)
including its Sub- Committee on Accreditation and its Bureau.
OHCHR provides a forum for identifying, highlighting & developing responses to
today's human rights challenges and acts as a principal focal point human rights
research, public information and advocacy within the UN.
- Treaty-Based Bodies:
Human Rights Committee
The Human Rights Committee is the body of independent experts that monitors
implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by
its State parties. The United Nations Human Rights Committee is a United Nations
body of 18 experts established by a human rights treaty, the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Committee meets for three
four-week sessions per year to consider the periodic reports submitted by the
172 States parties to the ICCPR.
All States parties are obliged to submit
regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. States
must report initially one year after acceding to the Covenant and then whenever
the Committee requests (usually every four years). The Committee examines each
report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the
form of "concluding observations".
The UN Human Rights Committee should not be
confused with the more high-profile UN Human Rights Council, or its predecessor,
the UN Commission on Human Rights. Whereas the Human Rights Council (since June
2006) and the Commission on Human Rights are UN political bodies: composed of
states, established by a UN General Assembly resolution and the UN Charter, and
discussing the entire range of human rights concerns; the Human Rights Committee
is a UN expert body: composed of persons, established by the ICCPR. Under
article 41 of the Committee to hear inter-state complaints. Both the complainant
and the object state must have made such declarations.
The Committee will seek
to resolve the issue & if it is not successful, it may under article 42 appoint,
with consent of the parties, an adhoc Conciliation Commission.
The powers of the Human Rights Committee were extended by Optional Protocol I to
the Civil and Political Rights Covenant with regard to ratifying states to
include the competence to receive and consider individual communications
alleging violations of the Covenant by a state party to the Protocol. The
individual must have exhausted all available domestic remedies and the same
matter must not be in the process of examination under another international
procedure. The procedure under the Optional Protocol is divided into several
The gathering of basic information is done by the Secretary General and
laid before the working Group on Communications of the Committee, which
recommends whether, for example, further information is required from the
applicant or the relevant state party and whether the communication should be
declared inadmissible. The procedure before the Committee itself is divided into
an admissibility and a merits stage. Interim decisions may be made by the
Committee and ultimately a 'final view' communicated to the parties.
The Committee has dealt with the death penalty issues in several cases has
noted, for example, that such a sentence may only be imposed in accordance with
due process rights.
Article 6 of the ICCPR provides that death sentences may only be imposed for the
most serious of crimes. It provides for non-retroactivity of penalties and that
any death sentence must be subject to the guarantees of the Covenant, including
the fair trial provisions of Article 14.
This penalty can only be carried out
pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a competent court. The inclusion of
Article 14 standards under Article 6 is important because, while the former is
derogable in time of public emergency, the latter is not. Thus, at least for
death penalty cases, the full protection of Article 14 is applicable in all
The Committee has also held that the Covenant's obligations cover the decisions
of diplomatic authorities of a state party regarding citizens living abroad. In
the Robinson case, the Committee considered Whether a state was under an
obligation itself to make a provision for effective representation by counsel
appointed by the author of the communication declines to appear. The Committee
emphasised that it was axiomatic that legal assistance be available in capital
cases & decided that the absence of counsel constituted unfair trial.
Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, 1993
On 25 June 1993, representatives of 171 States adopted by consensus the Vienna
Declaration & Programme of Action of World Conference on Human Rights. The
Conference was attended by government delegates and international human rights
community including more than 800 NGOs.
The final Declaration agreed to in
Vienna, which was endorsed by the UN General Assembly, reaffirms the
principles evolved during the past 45 years & further strengthens the basis in
the area of human rights. The Declaration recognises interdependence between
democracy, development and human rights. It also took decision to promote and
protect the rights of women, children and indigenous peoples by creating new
mechanism. It also called for establishment of a High Commissioner for Human
Rights by the General Assembly. The Assembly did it on 20 December 1993.
- Committee On Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) oversees
implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) through its consideration of State reports,
individual complaints, inter-State complaints, and early-warning and urgent
procedures, as well as its preparation of general comments (referred to as
"general recommendations" by the Committee) and thematic discussions.
- Inter-State Complaints
Articles 11 through 13 of the ICERD provide a mechanism for States to complain
about violations of the ICERD made by another State through the establishment of
an ad hoc Conciliation Commission. Article 22 of the ICERD also provides a
mechanism for States to resolve inter-State disputes concerning the
interpretation of application of the Convention. This procedure allows for
disputes to be resolved in the first instance by negotiation, and should that
fail, by arbitration.
If the parties then fail to agree to the arbitration
within a period of six months, then one of the States may refer the dispute to
the International Court of Justice unless a State opted out of the procedure by
making a declaration at the time of ratification or accession to ICERD.
- Racism and Xenophobia:
Since 9/11, attack on US trade towers this has become particularized in the form
of Islamophobia, coupled with an ideological anti-Semitism propagated by
neo-Nazi parties. Since 1984, the political expression of this social disease
has been the growth of neo-fascist and far-right parties; the two have fed off
each other. Yet, to a degree, it has been held in check by the "historic memory"
of the horrors of Hitler's Germany.
However, this has begun to change, as recent
events have triggered the perception that Christendom is at war with the Dar al
Islam, allowing far-right parties to claim a popular resonance and repackage
themselves in a way that jettisons much of their historical baggage. In June
2004, 732 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) were elected by 350 million
voters in what was one of the world's largest-ever elections.
elections, 25 MEPs from ten neo-Nazi and extreme right-wing parties across seven
member St They were joined by dozens more MEPs who share the rhetoric if not the
underpinning ideology. This threatens to further intensify the discrimination
against the 12 million to 14 million third-country nationals and the 4 million
black Europeans living in the European Union (EU) who already face the threat of
physical violence, daily discrimination and verbal harassment-a second-class
status with third-class treatment, including three of the recent accession
States, were elected to the European Parliament. EU has been trying to counter
such xenophobia and racism. It embraces the principles of dignity, freedom,
equality, solidarity, citizen's rights and justice. 
- Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against
Through women constitute half the population, their enjoyment of rights on an
equal footing with men leaves a lot to be desired. The status of women in
society in general and in particular, their political, economic and social
status is far from satisfactory. The discrimination often starts right from womb
and manifests in many ways. Their access to nutrition, education, health care,
employment are serious rights issues.
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
(CEDAW), an expert body established in 1982, is composed of 23 experts on
women's issues from around the world. The Committee's mandate is very specific:
it watches over the progress for women made in those countries that are the
States parties to the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women. A country becomes a State party by ratifying or
acceding to the Convention and thereby accepting a legal obligation to
counteract discrimination against women. The Committee monitors the
implementation of national measures to fulfil this obligation.
At each of its sessions, the Committee reviews national reports submitted by the
States parties within one year of ratification or accession, and thereafter
every four years. These reports, which cover national action taken to improve
the situation of women, are presented to the Committee by Government
representatives. In discussions with these officials, the CEDAW experts comment
on the report and obtain additional information. This procedure of actual
dialogue, developed by the Committee, has proven valuable because it allows for
an exchange of views and a clearer analysis of anti-discrimination policies in
the various countries.
The Committee also makes recommendations on any issue affecting women to which
it believes the States parties should devote more attention. For example, at the
1989 session, the Committee discussed the high incidence of violence against
women, requesting information on this problem from all countries. In 1992, the
Committee adopted general recommendation 19, which requires national reports to
the Committee to include statistical data on the incidence of violence against
women, information on the provision of services for victims, and legislative and
other measures taken to protect women against violence in their everyday lives,
such as harassment at the workplace, abuse in the family and sexual violence. As
of the end of 2007, the Committee has issued 25 general recommendations.
The 23 members of CEDAW, acknowledged as experts "of high moral standing and
competence in the field covered by the Convention", are elected by the States
parties. These elections have to meet the Convention's demands for equitable
geographical distribution in membership and the requirement that CEDAW members
represent "different forms of civilization as well as principal legal systems".
Their terms last four years, with only half of the Committee members replaced
each time elections take place. The meeting of States parties is convened every
other year by the Secretary-General at UN Headquarters in New York.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (UDHR) recognises the equal
rights of men and women. The UDHR declares that everyone is entitled to all
the rights and freedom set forth in this declaration, without distinction of
sex. Discrimination in the enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and
cultural rights on the basis of sex has been prohibited under the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic,
Social & Cultural Rights respectively.
A number of declarations and conventions on various facets of women's rights
were adopted under the aegis of the United Nation. They include the Convention
on the Political Rights of Women, 1952, Declaration on the Elimination of
Discrimination against Women 1967, and the Declaration on the Protection of
Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict 1974.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
was adopted in 1979 and entered into force in 1981. It is the most comprehensive
treaty on women's human rights, establishing legally binding obligations to end
discrimination. It states that full and complete development of a country, the
welfare of the world and the cause of peace require the maximum participation of
women on equal terms with men in all fields. It provides for equality between
women and men in the enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and
cultural rights. In addition to addressing the major issues, the convention also
identifies a number of specific areas where discrimination against women has
been flagrant, specifically with regard to participation in public life,
marriage, family life, and sexual exploitation.
State parties are required to end all forms of discrimination against women and
to ensure their equality with men in political & public life with regard to
nationality, education, employment, health, & economic and social benefits.
States are required to take account of the unique problems of women in rural
areas, and their special roles in the economic survival of the family. The
Convention is the only human rights treaty to affirm the reproductive rights of
- General Recommendations made by Committee on the Elimination of
Discrimination against Women:
As of January 2004, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
had adopted 25 general recommendations. Those adopted during the committee's
first ten years were short & modest, addressing such issues as the content of
reports, reservations to the convention & resources. The committee clarified the
state parties obligations, among others, on issues such as violence against
women, equal remuneration for work of equal value, women & AIDS, measurement &
quantification of the unremunerated domestic activities of women and their
recognition in the GNP, disabled women, equality in marriage and family
relations and women and health.
In Gaurav Jain v Union of India, case regarding women in prostitution, the
Supreme Court reiterated the principles of CEDAW, and has acknowledged that
human rights for women including girl child are inalienable, integral and
indivisible part of universal human rights.
In Municipal Corporation of Delhi v Female Workers [Muster Roll] case, the
Supreme Court of India dealing with the daily wage women employees right to
claim maternity benefit has recognised the child bearing role of women as a
social function as stipulated in art 5 (b) of CEDAW.
In C Masilamani Mudliar's case, the Supreme Court, dealing with the property
rights for women, has held that the personal laws. Derived from scriptures,
conferring inferior status on women is anathema to equality, and upheld the
right of tribal women to inherit properties. The court has called upon the state
to eliminate to eliminate obstacles, prohibit all gender-based discrimination as
mandated by arts. 14 & 15 of the Constitution of India. Pursuant to art. 2(f)
and other related articles of CEDAW. The state should take all appropriate
measures, including legislation to modify or abolish gender based discrimination
in existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitute
discrimination against women.
In a patriarchal society, father is regarded as guardian of the minor. Most
personal laws have a similar provision. In Hariharan's case, the Supreme Court
held that non- recognition of mother as a guardian is discriminatory and by
applying the principles of the convention, it has recognised the mother to be
guardian of the minor child.
Shayara Bano v. Union of India are significant rulings of the Supreme Court in
furthering human rights of women in India. In Shayara Bano, the
Constitutionality of talaq-e-biddat or triple talaq was impugned. Triple talaq
is instant & irrevocable & is pronounced by the husband three times in one
sentence. The court by 3:2 majority set aside this practice. Justice Rohinton
Fali Nariman described this practice manifestly arbitrary & violated of Article
14 of the Constitution of India.
Even minority judgment of Chief Justice of
India with concurrence of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer directed the Union of India to
consider appropriate legislation particularly with reference to talaq-e-biddat.
At the time of writing, the government intends to introduce a Bill The Muslim
Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017. It proposes imprisonment of
three years for a Muslim husband who resorts to talaq-e-biddat.
- Discrimination against Women means:
Any distinction, exclusion, or restriction made on the basis of sex which has
the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or
exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on basis of equality of
men & women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political,
economic, social, cultural, civil and in any other field.
According to World Health organisation Report of Nov 2017, about 35% of women
world- wide have experienced either physical &/or sexual intimate partner
violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Abuse &
harassment on social media are also having alarming impact on women in the form
of stress, anxiety or panic as a result of online harmful experiences.
In most of the European countries, violence against women is alarming. The
report has quoted statistics showing that in France, six women die each month at
hands of professed lovers. Gang rapes, known as "tournantes" or "pass-rounds" in
which teenage girls or young women are handed over by their boyfriends to their
buddies, is the worst form of violence. The situation in other parts of the
world is also gloomy. In some Islamic counties like Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan,
"honour Killing" of women is socially approved. Legal ban on sati system in
India has not totally abolished this social evil. It is hoped that general
awareness among women may abate this menace against them.
Committee on the Rights of the Child
The Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (CRC) is the Principal children's
treaty encompassing a full range of civil, political, economic social and
cultural rights. The Convention aims at protecting children from discrimination,
neglect and abuse. It grants and provides for the implementation of rights for
children both in times of peace and during armed conflict.
The Convention embodies four general principles for guiding implementation of
the rights of the child:
provisions of the convention, sate parties agree that children's rights include:
free & compulsory primary education, protection from economic exploitation,
sexual and protection from physical and mental harm and neglect, the right of
the disabled child to special treatment & education, protection of children
affected by armed conflict, child prostitution & child pornography. Under the
convention the committee on the rights of the child was established to monitor
the implementation of the convention by state parties.
- non-discrimination ensuring equality of opportunity. When the
authorities of a state- take decisions which affect children they must give
prime consideration to the best interests of the child.
- The right to life, survival and development which includes physical,
mental, emotional, cognitive, social and cultural development.
- Children should be free to express their opinions and
- such views should be given due weight taking the age and maturity
of the child into consideration.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 requires that no child will be
subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment and that every child deprived of liberty will be treated with
humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.
The Government of India has ratified the United Nations Convention on the
suppression of the Traffic in persons and the Exploitation of the Prostitution
of Others 1949 on 25 July 1991. The International Labour Organisation (ILO)
focused on the Worst Forms of Child Labour 1999 on ending slavery, debt bondage,
forced recruitment of children in armed conflict, prostitution, drug trafficking
and any work harmful to the health, safety and morals of children. India is yet
to become party to this convention.
The Optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the
Involvement of children in Armed Conflict 2000 seeks to put limits on the use of
children in armed conflict & seeks thus:
- It prohibits the recruitment of individuals under 18 years of age by
- It imposes an obligation upon states to raise the minimum age of
recruitment above the age set by the Convention on the Rights of the child.
- It establishes an obligation upon states to take all feasible measures
to prevent the direct participation in hostilities by individuals under the
age of 18.
- It requires states to establishes safeguards relative to the voluntary
recruitment of individuals under the age of 18.
- It sets forth an obligation upon states to report to the committee on
the Rights of the Child on its implementation.
The committee on the Rights of the Child is a body of independent experts that
monitors and reports on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of
the Child by governments that ratify the Convention. On the involvement of
children in armed conflict and on sale of children, child prostitution, and
On 19 December 2011, the UN General Assembly approved a third
Optional Protocol on Communications Procedure, which allows individual children
to submit complaints regarding specific violations of their rights under the
Convention and its first two Optional Protocols. Third Protocol entered into
force on 14 April 2014.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child consists of 10 experts of high moral
standing & recognised competence in the field covered by the Convention. The
members are elected by the States Parties from among their nationals by secret
ballot from the list of persons nominated by them. Each State may nominate one
person from among its own nationals. The members act in their individual
The election is held at meetings of States Parties convened by the
Secretary General of the UN. A two- thirds of the States Parties constitute the
quorum for such meeting. The persons getting the largest number of votes and an
absolute majority of the States present and voting are declared elected. The
term of the members of the committee is four years. The committee normally meets
at the headquarters of the UN or at any other convenient place, annually
determined by the committee.
The States Parties undertake to submit to the CRC, through the Secretary General
of the UN, reports on the measures adopted by them to give effect to rights
given by the Convention to the child. The report is also to indicate the
difficulties affecting the realisation of the provisions of the treaty. The
committee (CRC) submits, in every two years, a report on its activities to the
General Assembly through the Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC).
The committee may invite the specialised agencies, UNICEF & other competent
bodies to provide expert advice on implementation of the Convention relating to
their arrears. The Committee may also recommend to the General Assembly to
request the Secretary General to undertake on its behalf, studies on specific
issues relating to the rights of the Child.
The United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is a subsidiary body set
up by the General Assembly in 1946. It renders valuable assistance to the
developing countries to the cause of child welfare.
The General Assembly in 1986 adopted a Declaration of Social & Legal Principles
Relating to the Protection & Welfare of children with special reference to
Foster Placement and nationality & internationally.
Human rights are those minimal rights that every individual must have under his
being a member of the human family' irrespective of any other consideration.
They are based on mankind's demand for a life in which the inherent dignity of
the human being will receive respect and protection.
They are forming the
foundations of society and they are inviolable, as the society would
disintegrate if they are violated. There is growing rhetoric in the recent past
as to the promotion and protection of human rights around the world. This is
because of the flagrant and blatant violations of human rights by the people in
government and non-government sectors. The promotion and protection of human
rights need a conducive and enabling environment, in particular to appropriate
regulations, institutions and procedures framing the actions of the State.
Human rights are considered as the greatest idea of this generation and a
milestone in the development of the rights of man. Innumerable declarations,
covenants and legislations have been initiated and entered into the national and
international levels for the protection and promotion of human rights. Human
Rights are sometimes called fundamental rights or basic rights or natural
rights. The legal duty to protect human rights includes the legal duty to
respect them. Members of the UN have committed themselves to promote respect for
and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
- International Legal Instruments
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
- International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights, 1996.
- International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights, 1996.
- League of Nations, 1919.
- European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights & Fundamental
- Journal Articles
- K. Bhosle. "Concepts of Human Rights, origin & Evaluation of the
- Dinah Shelton, An Introduction to the History of International Human
Rights Law (Strasboug, France, July 2003).
- Myres S. Mc Dougal, Human Rights in The United Nations (The American
Journal of International Law).
- Stephen P. Marks, Human rights: A Brief Introduction (Harvard
- Stephen P. Marks, The United Nations and Human Rights
- Roshni Duhan, Human Rights Issues in India A Mapping of Different
Groups (Innovare Journal of Social Science, 2014).
- Vivek Dhupdale, Enforcement of Human Rights at International & National
level (Shivaji University, Kolhapur, 2012).
 Sayed Qudrat Hashimy, Jackson Simango Magoge & Ahsnat Mokarim, Relentless
Violation of International Humanitarian Law During the Ongoing Conflict in
Afghanistan, SSRN Journal (2022), https://www.ssrn.com/abstract=4011585 (last
visited Jun 19, 2022).
 (Art 1, Charter of the United Nations 1945).
 Sayed Hashimy, Dynamic Role of the United Nations Security Council to
Maintain Peace and Security in Asia Especially in Afghanistan, May 17, 2017.
 Id. at 134.
 Hashimy, Magoge, and Mokarim, supra note 2 at 5.
 Sayed Qudrat Hashimy, THE RECOGNITION AND LEGITIMACY OF THE TALIBAN
GOVERNMENT: A CONUNDRUM IN INTERNATIONAL LAW, 28.
 Id. at 9.
 Id. at 13.
 Hashimy, Magoge, and Mokarim, supra note 2 at 6.
 This Information is available as of September 2011 in OHCHR, OHCHR
Management Plan 2012-2013.
 UNDP, Report from the Second Inter-Agency Workshop on Implementing a Human
Right- Based Approach in the Context of UN Reform, held at Stamford, CT, USA,
5-7 May 2003.
 Sayed Qudrat Hashimy, ANALYSIS OF THE UNITED STATES' LIABILITY FOR WAR
CRIME IN AFGHANISTAN, 3 114 (2021).
 UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006, para 5(e).
 Hashimy, supra note 5 at 12.
 Hashimy, supra note 14 at 11.
 Report of the Working Group on the Universal periodic Review. United States
of America, UN Doc A/HRC/16/11, 4 January 2011.
 Hashimy, supra note 8 at 14.
 Supra at 116.
 Hashimy, supra note 14 at 16.
 Under para 6 of the General Assembly Resolution 48/141 of 20 December 1993.
 Supra 116.
 Signed in 1966 and in force as from 23 March 1976. H. Steiner, 'Individual
Claims in a World of Massive Violations: What Role for the Human Rights
Committee in Alston and Crawford, Future, p. 15.
 Thompson v. St. Vincent and the Grenadines, A/5/40, vol. II, annex X,
sect.H, para. 8.2.
 A/44/40, p. 241 (1989)
 United Nations General Assembly Res. 48/121 of 1993.
 Based on the Article of GLYN FORD, "Racism and Xenophobia in Europe
Stemming the Rising Tide", UN Chronicle, No. 4 (2004) 32-33.
 Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, preamble Art 1 and 2.
 Gaurav Jain v Union of India AIR 1997 SC 3021.
 Municipal Corporation of Delhi v Female Workers AIR 2000 SC 1274.
 C Masilamani Mudliar v Idol of Sri Swaminatha Swamintha Swami Thirukoil AIR
1996 SC 1697.
 India's second & third periodic reports to CEDAW. Gita Hariharan v Reserve
Bank of India AIR 1999 SC 1149.
 Amnesty International Website.
 HUMAN RIGHTS: A BASIC HANDBOOK FOR UNITED NATIONS STAFF, UNITED NATIONS.
[ed.4th 1995, at 380].
 The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the
Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict 2000.
Written By: Mohammad Rasikh Wasiq
, Student of LLM (International Law) -
ILS Law College, Pune
Email: [email protected]