Of late, the question of human rights has received a great deal of attention. Today, violation of human rights is seriously taken note of by international bodies and by champions of democracy. It is in this backdrop that most countries have set up their own independent National Human Rights Commissions.
Human rights are those rights which are fundamental for living and for normal human existence. They are based on the concept that every man and woman, irrespective of caste, creed, colour, race and nationality is born with certain fundamental rights such as, right to live, speech, freedom, justice, etc. These rights are, therefore, enshrined in the constitution of the countries. In order, that these basic rights are maintained and adhered to by the nations of the world, United Nations Organisation adopted a Charter of human rights soon after its formation. The Universal Declaration of Human rights which UN adopted on 10th Dec. 1948 enumerates some of these basic rights of man. These are rights to live, liberty and security of person, right to freedom of speech, judicial remedy, freedom of movement, right to take part in the governance of one’s country, etc. The second types of rights are economic and social rights. These are the right to work, right to live with dignity, right to rest and leisure, right to education, equal pay for equal work, right to equality, etc.
The problem of human rights is that people and countries have a different understanding of the term and its protection. In some counties political and civil rights are not given or guaranteed to all its citizens. In some other countries, economic and social rights are not enforced, Therefore, the basic idea behind stressing human rights is that all governments should try to maintain these fundamental rights and see that all types of discrimination in this respect are rooted out.
Nevertheless, many types of discrimination and violation of human rights are seen in different parts of the world. It is true that racial discrimination known as ‘Apartheid’ as existed in South Africa formerly no longer exists in the world. Yet today, people are forced to flee their land of birth and forced to live in refugee camps under miserable conditions. Today minorities in many parts of the world have no political rights. The story of Ms. Suu Kyi Myanmar is a shining example in this respect. Cruelty to prisoners of war, unjust treatment of prisoners in jail, economic discrimination, casteism, rape, child labour, child prostitution, etc., are other forms of violation of human rights.
Protection and maintenance of human rights is a fundamental duty of every government. International organisations and watchdogs such as, UNO, International Human Rights Commission, etc., can play a vital role in ensuring the implementation of these basic rights. Countries, particularly the democratic countries, must stand together in this respect and take necessary persuasive and even coercive actions, to see that these fundamental human rights are adhered to by people, organisations and countries all over the world.