“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity” said Nelson Mandela. Conversations about human rights and human rights violations have surfaced the newspapers and media from time to time. The subject matter of this speech is also concerned with this aspect and would be educative for both students and teachers alike. We live in a modern world of democracies, of free populations but the reality is that there are millions of individuals living under authoritarian regimes with their rights compromised. Even still within the seemingly free nations, the rights of all individuals are not ensured due to gender, racial and ethnic discrimination.
Human rights can be understood as the rights and freedoms that have been entitled to each and every human being. The nature of human rights is that it has been entitled to individuals purely on the basis of them being human beings. This would mean that it is entitled to individuals irrespective of the gender, religion, ethnicity, class, caste and the like. Therefore, they are fundamental and intrinsic to individual existence as human beings. Some of the human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from exploitation, right to freedom of expression and the like.
The origin of human rights can be traced to the Age of Enlightenment when John Locke came about the idea of natural rights and natural law. A similar idea of all men being born equal was enshrined in the Declaration of American Independence in 1776. The modern conceptions of human rights began to emerge during the second half of the 20th century. The non-binding Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the United Nations in 1948 encouraged the nations to promote certain rights and liberties of their citizens. However, with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the UDHR was made binding on all signatory nations.
In the Indian context, human rights have been classified into 7 different groups under the Constitution. These are referred to as the Fundamental Rights and they include right to equality, right to freedom, right against exploitation, right to freedom of religion, cultural and educational rights and right to constitutional remedies. Under these seven categories, there are various rights such as the right to life, the rights of minorities, the right to freedom of expression, the right to equal opportunity, and the rights against discrimination and so on. Of all these 7 categories, the right to constitutional remedies is crucial because it enables the individual to seek justice in case of violation of their rights.The legal authority that ensures the protection and promotion of human rights in India is the National Human Rights Commission. This commission was constituted under the Protection of Human Rights Act of 1993 and gave it a statutory status. This body functions to intervene into issues of violation or negligence with regards to human rights by the government, intervene into court proceedings involving human rights, look into cases of violations of human rights and make recommendations to the government with regard to promotion and protection of rights and so on. It is one of the apex authorities when it comes to human rights in India. The right to constitutional remedies, the individual has the right to approach the Supreme Court for seeking justice in case their rights have been violated.
Human rights are essential for the existence of harmony and peace in human existence. Human nature is recognized by human rights and ensures a dignified existence. Human rights have a long history and have undergone several transformations to become what it has today. Over the years more and more right has been recognized as being fundamental rights such as voting rights and economic rights. However, it is not all rosy for human rights as the rights of many are under jeopardy with unreported cases of violence across the globe. As a conclusion to this speech, it becomes important to recognize that as individuals it is important to put forward our individual efforts to recognize the rights of others and do our part to protect them.