Human Rights Reflective Essay Example

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Human Rights Reflective Essay

Human Rights Issues – Reflective Essay

The most elemental of all rights is that each person has the right to life, liberty and the security of person. However, these rights are not absolute. Indeed, this is the conclusion I can make from the lectures on Human Rights issues in week 3, 4, and 5.

As emphasised in week 3, the concept of ‘universality’ is a fundamental principle of human rights law, which comprises the rights guaranteed to all individuals despite their race, status, gender or ethnicity. These are at the core of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). However, is it possible that the concept of universality has not been effective enough to prevent states from violating or misinterpreting’ human rights’?

This fundamental question has constantly bothered me during the lectures, as while UDHR is supposed to be embraced universally and absolutely, it is not. Some states violate the concept by supporting genocide while some have come up with own versions of laws like the ‘bill of rights’ to supplement the UDHR.

Perhaps, this is because of the professed confusion as regards the meaning of the term ‘human right,’ and whether it is a possession or relationship. Logically, rights are relationships. I also reason that the instruments that protect human rights, like the International Bill of Rights have failed to reconcile their fundamental goals and politics surrounding their existence.

There also appears to be much controversy as regards the right to life. For instance, the right to life appears not to be absolute. Although human rights provides for a right to life, Art. 2(4) of the UN Charter allows for the use of force to protect human life during hostilities. Again, while international human rights law depends on nation-states to uphold the human rights, individual nations may not pass judgment on some matters, including abortion and death sentence.

It is perhaps because of these uncertainties that universal human rights concerns were inserted into some nation-state legislations through conventions like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which seek to address singular issues like refugee, women and children rights, using their courts.

In my view, therefore, these conventions must be embraced, as they have served to promote human rights in ways that overcome the above problems by providing nation-states with obligations to protect, respect, as well as act in accordance with human rights obligations.