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UDHR represents first global expression of rights

UDHR represents first global expression of rights

Distinguished readers, in this write up I would like to share with you a very important and internationally widely recognized document that has laid the foundation for international, regional and national human rights framework.

This document is known as Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR has been described as the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are essentially entitled. UDHR is a document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on the 10th December, 1948 at Palais de Chaillot, Paris. The UDHR came about through the experience got by warring factions from the Second World War. During the first and  second world wars, there was no respect for human dignity and all the war factions came to the realization that they had lost infrastructural developments, lost lives and properties and subjected people to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments or punishments. So the UDHR symbolize the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are essentially entitled. It consists of 30 articles which have been highly structured in subsequent international treaties, regional human rights instruments, national constitutions and laws.

WHICH DOCUMENT(s) CONSISTS OF THE INTERNATIONAL BILL OF HUMAN RIGHTS?

Distinguished readers, generally, International Bill of Human Rights consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols. In 1966, the General Assembly adopted the two detailed Covenants, which complete the International Bill of Human Rights; and in 1976, after the Covenants had been ratified by a sufficient number of individual nations, the Bill took on the force of international law.

10th DECEMBER OF EACH YEAR IS A SIGNIFICANT INTERNATIONAL COMMEMORATION DAY OF HUMAN RIGHTS

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the General Assembly on 10th December 1948 by a vote of 48 in favour, 0 against. The adoption of the Universal Declaration on 10th December 1948 is a significant international commemoration marked each year on 10th December and is known as International Human Rights Day. The commemoration is observed internationally by National Human Rights Institutions, schools, individuals, religious groups, Civil Society Organizations and the United Nations. In Sierra Leone, the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone in collaboration with UNIPSIL and the Civil Society Organizations observe this day by having a unified nation wide celebration.

FOUR FREEDOMS: FREEDOM OF SPEECH, FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLLY, FREEDOM FROM FEAR AND FREEDOM FROM WANT WAS THE BASIC WAR AIMS OF THE ALLIES.

Distinguished readers, during the Second World War the allies adopted the Four Freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom from fear and freedom from want, as their basic war aims. The United Nations Charter “reaffirmed faith in fundamental human rights, and dignity and worth of the human person” and committed all member states to promote “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion”.

WHAT ARE HUMAN RIGHTS?

Human Rights could be defined as the fundamental rights of a person that should be protected by law, and guaranteed by the state.

A right is an entitlement, and when we talk about human rights we mean those rights that belong to every individual- (Man or Woman, Girl or Boy, Infant or Elder) simply because he/she is a human being. Human Rights consist of the basic standards without which people cannot enjoy/realize their inherent dignity. This in essence could be interpreted as the foundation of Freedom, Justice and Peace.

CHARACTERISTICS OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Human rights also have its characteristics which amongst others are:

  • Universal
  • Inherent
  • Interdependent
  • Inalienable
  • Indivisible
  • Interrelated

Universal: Human Rights are universal because they belong to every human being whether black or white, man or woman.

Inherent: Human Rights are said to be inherent because it is a birth right of every human being.

Inter-dependent: Human Rights are Inter-dependent, which means all rights support each other.

Inalienable: Human Rights are inalienable because you cannot lose those rights as long as you are a human being and without a valid legal reason.

Indivisible: Human Rights are indivisible because all human rights are equally important. You cannot be denied a right because some one decides that it is less important or non-essential. All rights stand together.

Inter-related:  Human Rights are interrelated, which implies each gives meaning to the other. For instance, the right to life, right to health and freedom of movement cannot be enjoyed without the right to food and the right to security of persons. In short, Rights complement each other.

Precious readers, there is one area which most human rights defenders fail to project, that is the responsibility aspect of human rights. Human Rights go along side responsibilities. For instance all those who have reached the voting age (18yrs and above) have the inherent right to register and to vote in a national election. Their corresponding responsibilities are to ensure that they do not involve in double voting or any aspect of election related violence. Also all registered political parties have the legal right to fully function as political parties. These political parties also have the corresponding responsibilities to first, abide by the electoral laws , secondly, abstain from rigging elections and creating elections related violence, thirdly,  win elections on the popular will of the people but not by influencing Elections Management Bodies (EMBs). Also, NEC has the legal right to conduct all public elections, but also has the corresponding responsibility to conduct all public elections within the legal frame work, and desist from all forms of elections malpractices. As a matter of responsibility we must continue to impress on the minds of all EMBs that “fair” elections means we have honest balloting and counting administered without fraud or manipulation.

Sierra Leoneans, let’s put the interest of “Mama Salone” above every other interest. In what ever we do we must remember that this is the only land that God has blessed us with. We must not allow party interest and or greedy politicians to use us as tool to destroy this beautiful land that has the potential to compete with Ghana, Nigeria and other developing countries in Africa, if only we elect the right person. Heavenly Father, into your hands I commit 17th November, 2012 and the entire electioneering process. Lord, not the will of greedy politicians neither our wills, but your will oh Lord, be done in the forth coming elections, this I ask in your name, Amen.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, my presentation will go without a ceiling if I fail to make mention of the three levels of State obligations. In the respect for the promotion and protection of human rights states have three levels of obligation in relation to human rights: the obligations “to respect”, “to protect” and “to fulfill”. When we talk about “respect” we mean regard for human rights which means state by signing human right document(s) must at all cost have regards for these signed documents. To “protect” we mean setting up institution like Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone to jealously guard human rights. To “fulfill” we mean to take affirmative steps to ensure that international and regional human rights instruments signed, domesticated and becomes law.

Precious readers, as I conclude I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all representatives of the various political parties and other institutions who would be travelling to Belgium for the matching exercise. I hope they would go there as a team and put the interest of “Mama Salone” above every other interest. I also hope that they facilitators will use the human rights based approach in every stage of the exercise. Bravo to NEC, UNDP and other stakeholders who are working hard to see that the entire electioneering process is trustworthy and free from all forms of elections manipulations and violence.

Long Live Patriotic Sierra Leoneans,
Long Live the Land that we Love “Mama Salone”
Bankole Clifford Ekundayo Morgan has been a promoter and protect of human rights for a long time now.
 
By: Bankole Clifford Ekundayo Morgan, Human Rights Advocate.
Series: 07

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