Current Issue 13thFebruary 2016 - 19 February 2016, i.e. No. 45


- Dr. Kamlesh Kumar

Human rights have become one of the indicators for measuring good governance, development and democracy across the systems and governments in the contemporary world. Thus, human rights serve as a standard of conduct for all States regulating relationship with their citizens. Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, caste, class, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. Theoretical Perspective of Human Rights has covered the four aspects such as claim, power, privilege and immunity enjoyable by all by virtue of their status as human being. Historically speaking, destruction, devastation and misery of the Second World War gave the idea of human rights through the birth of United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), 1948. The Declaration  contains a number of rights enshrined within its thirty articles including the rights to life, liberty, equality, security and property etc for survival and development of human race. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the form of Covenants, Conventions and Treaties, Customary International law, general principles and other sources of International law. International human rights law lays down obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups of peoples as described generations of rights.

            First-generation human rights deal essentially with liberty and participation in political life. They are fundamentally civil and political in nature, and serve to protect the individual from excesses of the state derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, 1948), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR,1966).Second-generation human rights are related to equality are fundamentally social, economic, and cultural in nature include a right to be employed, rights to housing and health care, as well as social security and unemployment benefits. They are basically derived from the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR, 1966).Third-generation human rights are those rights that go beyond the mere civil and social, as expressed in many progressive documents of international law, including group and collective rights, right to determination, right to economic and social development, right to a environment, right to natural resources, right to communicate and communication rights, right to participation in cultural heritage. International law, including the Stockholm Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment(1972), the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development(1986) and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development(1992) as well as the  United Nations Millennium Declaration(2000) committing their nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound eight targets point- with a deadline of 2015 - that have become known as the Millennium Development Goals.

      In India, the term Human Rights defined under section-2(d) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, “human rights” mean the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India. The Act to provide for the constitution of a National Human Rights Commission, State Human Rights Commission in States and Human Rights Courts for better protection of human rights. 

Main Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Treaties
1948- Universal Declaration of Human Rights
1949-Geneva Convention
1953-Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons
1957- Convention on the Nationality of the Married Women
1959- Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
1960- Supplementary Convention on the abolition of Slavery, Slave Trade and Institutions and Practice similar to Slavery
1961- Convention on the Political Rights of the Women
1968- Convention on Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination
1971- Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and    Crimes against Humanity
1977- Covenant on Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid
1979- Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1979- Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
1981- Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women
1992- Convention on Rights of the Child
1997- Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
2005- Convention against corruption
2006- Convention for Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance

LAWs on Human Rights :

  • Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986.
  • The National Commission for Minorities Act, 1990.
  • The National Commission for Women Act, 1990.
  • The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Constitution 65th Amendment Act, 1990.
  • Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
  • The National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993.
  • Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
  • Juvenile Justice( Care and Protection of Children)Act,2000

Steps on Establishments of Human Rights Bodies:

  • National Commission for Women.
  • National Commission for Scheduled Castes.
  • National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
  • National Commission for Minorities.
  • National Commission for Safai Karmacharis.
  • National Commission for Minorities.
  • National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
  • National Human Rights Commission.
  • Eighteen State Governments already set up State Human Rights Commission – Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashatra, Manipur, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal.

to be continued
(The Author is Research Officer Centre for Socio-Legal Studies and Human Rights School of Social Sciences, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Deonar, Mumbai-400088 E-mail Id :

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