World Human Rights Day

World Human Rights Day

One of the stellar achievements of the United Nations, the world body that was instituted after its precursor, the League of Nations, failed on multiple levels and fronts, and was devised as the “Parliament of Man” was the elevation and institution of inalienable human rights. World Human Rights day is celebrated every year on the 10th of December to commemorate this. Generally and generically speaking, the notion of human rights is an abstract construct that, in theory, strives to guarantee and ensure a set of interrelated rights-political, economic, social , cultural and so on- for individuals. The idea of even principle that undergirds human rights is that of human freedom- in both, broad and specific terms. Usually and often times, it is against the coercive authority of the state, that the Idea and practice of Human Rights is directed against. But, it has been observed, at times, that it may not merely be misuse of abuse of state power and authority that leads to breach or even suspension of human rights but also poor and weak state capacity. Weak, fragile and failing states are a clear cut instance of this lacuna or even breach. Human rights are also observed in the breach in conflict conditions and situations where state authority, by virtue of its coercive apparatuses, suspect and/or abrogate various human rights. The larger point embedded in this brief assessment of human rights is that while the idea enshrined in the idea and practice of human rights is noble and principled, but that world that we inhabit is far from this ideal- even though some strides have been made towards progress. Consider the case of the International organizations like the United Nations (UN) and Non Governmental Organizations(NGO’s) like the Amnesty and the Human Rights Watch. In the case of the UN, states have neither actually ceded sovereignty not their many sovereign prerogatives. In fact, states hide behind the shield of sovereignty to commit human rights abuses. This impedes the organization. NGO’s like HRW and AI can only , at best, take recourse to naming and shaming. In the final analysis then, it is upto states itself to bind and commit themselves to neat and moral commitment to human rights. But, states are states- amoral entities whose remit and even rationale is to strive for security and survival. In the process, they do and will commit human rights violations. What then is the solution to the “problem”? The answer might lie in further empowerment- institutional, organizational, legal, financial and so on- of the United Nations. In other words, the organization must have teeth to enact and implement the Human Rights agenda. But, in a post truth world, characterized by the return of sovereignty and the state, best encapsulated by Trump and his vulgar cohort, this might remain a mere proposal- for, at least, a long while.