Updated: Aug 30
“Human Rights are what reason requires and conscience demands.” “They are us and we are them.” It recognises the inherent dignity and fundamental freedom of all members of a society and is the rudimentary foundation for all the cardinal freedoms, Justice and peace in the world.
As we dwell on the history of Human Rights we come upon the endeavour of King John in 1215. The Great Charter of Freedoms or the Magna Carta which was agreed to by King John granted equality before the law and other important rights. The medieval monks portrayed him as a pernicious behemoth while the modern historians considered him to be a dynamic King who strived to increase his power even during gruelling times.
After the Glorious Revolution of 1688 came the Declaration of Rights. A century later American colonies made the Declaration of Independence. In 1791 the United States Bill of Rights came into force followed by additional amendments after the first 10 amendments guaranteeing equal rights for racial minorities and for women. After the French Revolution, the National Assembly adopted the declaration of the rights of men. Then came the European democratic declaration in 1848. The political changes after World War I and the formation of liberation and decolonisation of many countries after World War II produced a set of constitution incorporating fundamental Rights for their people.
India was ahead in a matter of human rights as inscribed in the constitution with the court system as a vigilant sentinel and implementation Instrument. Mahatma Gandhi who led the fight for independence battled not only for political liberation but for the composite freedoms found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Human Rights are entitlement due to every man, women and infant as they are human. They include Rights pertaining to the security of an individual including the Right to not be deprived of life or liberty without due process of law, the Right not to be tortured or be subjected to inhuman, unmerciful or degrading treatment or punishment and the right not to be held in slavery or servitude.
Human Rights are inalienable rights violation of which cannot be justified even by the state. Human Rights also include political and civil rights and among them, the right to freedom of religious thought and conscious, the right to freedom of opinion, the freedom to form associations and the right to take part in the government of one’s country, directly or through fully nominated representatives.
There are economic, cultural and social rights that also come under Human Rights, these include basic survival rights for example Right to food and basic housing.
Human Rights now have a permanent place on the international agenda. The United Nations has been inserted with enormous responsibilities for tackling global issues including Human Rights and the importance of NGOs which have now been widely recognised.
Implementation of Human Rights is a subject of great importance in any society at any period of time. The real task before all the societies of the world and all the nations is to ensure Human Rights to those large sections of society who are suffering from untold hardship and misery on account of massive deception and exploitation and are deprived of basic human dignity. The status of women in society has an important bearing on their participation in the lucrative activity, therefore strengthening the laws relating to the protection of women in the workforce must be given due priority. Stern laws shall be made and implemented for protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. All the nations must take measures to modify cultural and social patterns of conduct based on the idea of the superiority or inferiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women. All nations must ensure the mental health of all individuals and especially of those in the armed forces. Military Disciplines must be characterised by legitimacy and procedural guarantees must be secured. Members of the armed forces must receive fair reimbursement and a retirement pension. Individuals, irrespective of their sex in the armed forces must be entitled to equal pay for equal work and work of equal value. Laws relating to the protection of prisoners must be duly adhered to. There shall be no torture or third-degree punishment against prisoners without the due process of law.
Navin Kumar Jaggi