International Conventions on Human right
International Conventions on Human right
Sandhya S and Shiferaw A.
‘Human right’ is such a term which is too difficult to define but too easy to expand in its domain. State, a so-called political sovereign, becomes very happy to violate human rights within its own territory. The same state, declaring itself self-proclaimed champion in protection of human right, uses this as a very strong weapon when the question of interference comes in the internal matter of any other state. In the name of protection of human rights, we observe desecration of the same. World history will also speak in affirmative. Even human right protectors have caused ‘genocide’ in many instances.
After the Second World War, the United Nations came into existence and the importance of protection of human right was necessitated. In that backdrop on December 10, 1948 at Paris the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) came into existence.
The United Nations has formulated and ratified various treaties and international conventions to protect the civil, political, economic, and social rights of people.
Treaties have some degree of primacy even though the sources of international law are not hierarchical. More than forty major international conventions for the protection of human rights have been adopted. International human rights treaties bear various titles, including ‘covenant’, ‘convention’ and ‘protocol’; but what they share are the explicit indication of states parties to be bound by their terms.
Human rights treaties have been adopted at the universal level (within the framework of the United Nations and its specialised agencies, for instance, the ILO and UNESCO) as well as under the auspices of regional organisations, such as the Council of Europe (CoE), the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the African Union (AU) (formerly the Organisation of African Unity (OAU)). These organisations have greatly contributed to the codification of a comprehensive and consistent body of human rights law.
1. UNIVERSAL CONVENTIONS FOR THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Human rights had already found expression in the Covenant of the League of Nations, which led, inter alia, to the creation of the International Labour Organisation.
Besides the International Bill of Human Rights, a number of other instruments have been adopted under the auspices of the UN and other international agencies. They may be divided into three groups:
a) Conventions elaborating on certain rights, inter alia:
• The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948)
• ILO 98 concerning the Right to Organise and to Bargain Collectively (1949)
• The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984)
• International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (2006)
b) Conventions dealing with certain categories of persons which may need special protection, inter alia:
• The Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951), and the 1967 Protocol thereto
• The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)
• Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts (2000)
• Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (2000)
• ILO 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries (1989)
• The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (1990)
• The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006)
c) Conventions seeking to eliminate discrimination
• ILO 111 concerning Discrimination in respect of Employment and Occupation (1958)
• UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960)
• The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965)
• The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973)
• The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979) and its Optional Protocol (2000)
REGIONAL CONVENTIONS FOR THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
The UN Charter encourages the adoption of regional instruments for the establishment of human rights obligations, many of which have been of crucial importance for the development of international human rights law.
The Council of Europe adopted the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in 1950 (see II§2.C), supplemented by the European Social Charter in 1961(see II§2.C), the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1987 (see II§2.C), and the Framework Convention on National Minorities in 1994 (see II§2.C).
The American Convention on Human Rights was adopted in 1969, under the auspices of the Organisation of American States (see II§3.B). This Convention has been complemented by two protocols, the 1988 Protocol of San Salvador on economic, social and cultural rights and the 1990 Protocol to abolish the death penalty.
Other Inter-American Conventions include the Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture (1985), the Convention on the Forced Disappearances of Persons (1994), the Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (1995) and the Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (see II§3.B).
In 1981, the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union, adopted the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (see II§4.B).
In a nutshell the global convention includes:
• International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
• International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (ICSPCA)
• International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
• Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees
• Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
• Convention Against Torture (CAT)
• Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)
• Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
• International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (MWC)
• Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
• Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
• International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
• Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (ILO 169)
Now in regional conventions, Africa encompasses:
• African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
• African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
• Maputo Protocol
• American Convention on Human Rights
• Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture
• Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons
• Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women
• Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities
• Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
• Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings
• European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML)
• European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
• European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)
• European Social Charter (ESC), and Revised Social Charter
• Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM)
Last but not the least when we talk about countries which signed the agreement on these conventions we have to consider the following details:
On February 4, 1985, the Convention was opened for signature at United Nations Headquarters in New York. At that time, representatives of the following countries signed it: Afghanistan, Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Uruguay. Subsequently, signatures were received from Venezuela on February 15, from Luxembourg and Panama on February 22, from Austria on March 14, and from the United Kingdom on March 15, 1985.