OpinionsEcon 10175th Human Rights Day

75th Human Rights Day

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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on Dec. 10, 1948 in Paris, served as the foundation for an expanding system of basic human rights to be universally protected, a document which enshrines the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being.

On its 75th  anniversary, as the world faces challenges new and ongoing – pandemics, conflicts, exploding inequalities, morally-bankrupt global financial system, racism, climate change – the values and rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration provide guideposts for our collective actions that do not leave anyone behind.

Human rights are moral principles or norms for certain standards of human behavior, commonly understood as inalienable, fundamental rights “to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being” and which are “inherent in all human beings”, regardless of their age, ethnic origin, location, language, religion, ethnicity, or any other status, universal, regularly protected in municipal and international law, applicable to everyone, anywhere.

They are applicable everywhere, and at every time in the sense of requiring empathy and the rule of law, imposing an obligation on persons to respect the human rights of others. It is generally considered that they should not be taken away, except as a result of due process based on specific circumstances.

Historically, these developments, among others, emerged from the two major revolutions which occurred during the 18th century, in the United States (1776) and in France (1789), leading to the United States Declaration of Independence, and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, respectively, both of which articulated certain human rights.

Additionally, the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776 encoded into law a number of fundamental civil rights and civil freedoms: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

A number of internationally-recognized organizations with worldwide mandate or jurisdiction over certain aspects of human rights: The International Court of Justice is the United Nations’ primary judiciary body, directed by the Security Council, which settles disputes between nations; and  the International Criminal Court is the body responsible for investigating and punishing war crimes, and crimes against humanity when such occur within its jurisdiction, with a mandate to bring to justice perpetrators of such crimes that occurred after its creation in 2002.

The ICC and other international courts take action where the national legal system of a state is unable to try the case itself. If national law is able to safeguard human rights and punish those who breach human rights legislation, it has primary jurisdiction by complementarity. Only when all local remedies have been exhausted does international law take effect.

Do you think the Philippine government under Marcos will allow the ICC to investigate former President Duterte’s War on Drugs program?

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Author’s email: [email protected]

 

 

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