Human Rights activist-an emerging Career —By Manu Singh

Post Visitors : 808

January 28, 2012 | CAREERS, CAREERS | Post by: admin

Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, irrespective of nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimi-nation. These rights are interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.

Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the form of treaties, customary international law, general principles and other sources of international law. International human rights law lays down obligations 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.

Human Rights legislation commonly contains:

  • Security rights that protect people against crimes such as murder, massacre, torture and rape

  • Liberty rights that protect freedoms in area such as belief and religion, association, assemblies and movement

  • Political rights that protect the liberty to participate in politics by expressing themselves, protesting, voting and serving in public office

  • Due process rights that protect against abuse of the legal system such as imprisonment without trial, secret trials and excessive punishment

  • Equality rights that guarantee equal citizenship, equality before law and non discrimination

  • Welfare rights (also known as economic and social rights) that require the provision of education and protection against severe poverty and starvation

  • Group rights that provide protection for group against ethnic genocide and for the ownership by countries of their national territories and resources

Violation of Human Rights

According to the Universal Declaration of Human rights, fundamental rights are violated when:

  • A Certain, Creed, or a group is denied recognition as a “person” (Article 2)

  • Men and Women are not treated as equal (Article 2)

  • Different Racial or Religious groups are not treated equally (Article 2)

  • Life, liberty or security of person are threatened (Article 3)

  • A person is sold as or used as a slave (Article 4)

  • Cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment is used on a person (such as torture or execution) (Article 5)

  • Punishments are dealt arbitrarily or unilaterally, without a proper and fair trial (Article 11)

  • Arbitrary  interference into personal, or private lives by agents of the state (Article 12)

  • Citizens are forbidden to leave their country (Article 13)

  • Freedom of Speech or religion are denied (Article 18 & 19)

  • The right to join a trade union is denied (Article 23)

  • Education is denied (Article 26)

Universal and Inalienable

The principle of universality of human rights is the cornerstone of international human rights law. This principle, as first emphasized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948, has been reiterated in numerous international human rights conventions, declarations, and resolutions. The 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, for example, noted that it is the duty of States to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems.

All States have ratified at least one, and 80% of States have ratified four or more, of the core human rights treaties, reflecting consent of States which creates legal obligations for them and gives concrete expression to universality. Some fundamental human rights norms enjoy universal protection by customary international law across all boundaries and civilizations.

Human rights are inalienable. They should not be taken away, except in specific situations and according to due process. For example, the right to liberty may be restricted if a person is found guilty of a crime by a court of law.

Interdependent and Indivisible

All human rights are indivisible, whether they are civil and political rights, such as the right to life, equality before the law and freedom of expression; economic, social and cultural rights, such as the rights to work, social security and education, or collective rights, such as the rights to development and self-determination, are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent. The improvement of one right facilitates advancement of the others. Likewise, the deprivation of one right adversely affects the others.

Equal and Non-discriminatory

Non-discrimination is a cross-cutting principle in international human rights law. The principle is present in all the major human rights treaties and provides the central theme of some of international human rights conventions such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The principle applies to everyone in relation to all human rights and freedoms and it prohibits discrimination on the basis of a list of categories such as sex, race, colour and so on. The principle of non-discrimination is complemented by the principle of equality, as stated in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

Both Rights and Obligations

Human rights entail both rights and obligations. States assume obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfill human rights. The obligation to respect means that States must refrain from interfering with or curtailing the enjoyment of human rights. The obligation to protect requires States to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses. The obligation to fulfill means that States must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights. At the individual level, while we are entitled to our human rights, we should also respect the human rights of others.

Human Rights Issues

Adequate Housing

  • Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context

Business and Human Rights

  • Business and Human Rights

Children

  • Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

  • OHCHR Study on children working and/or living on the street

  • Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography

  • United Nations Study on Violence against Children

Civil and Political Rights

  • Human Rights Committee (HRC)

Climate change

  • Human Rights and climate Change

Communications

  • Working Group on Communications

Cultural rights

  • Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights

Democracy

  • Rule of Law – Democracy and Human Rights

Detention

  • Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Development (Good Gover-nance and Debt)

  • Development – Good gover-nance

  • Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights

  • Open-ended working group on the right to development

  • Right to development

Disability and Human Rights

  • Human Rights of persons with disabilities

Disappearance

  • Committee on Enforced Disappearance (CED)

  • Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances

Discrimination

  • A special focus on discrimination

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

  • Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

  • Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – General information and resources

  • Open-ended Working Group on an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Education

  • Human rights education and training

  • Special Rapporteur on the right to education

Environment

  • Special Rapporteur on Adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights

Executions

  • Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

Food

  • Special Rapporteur on the right to food

Freedom of Opinion and Expression

  • Freedom of expression and advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence

  • Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Freedom of Religion and Belief

  • Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief

Gender

  • Women’s Rights and Gender

Globalization (Business, Trade and Investment)

  • Business and human rights

  • Globalization – Trade and investment

Health

  • Consultation on Elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members

  • Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

HIV/AIDS

  • HIV/AIDS and Human Rights

Human Rights and Interna-tional Solidarity

  • Independent expert on human rights and international solidarity

Human Rights Defenders

  • Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders

Human Rights Education and Training

  • Human rights education and training

  • United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training

  • World Programme for Human Rights Education (2005-ongoing)

Human Rights Indicators

  • Human Rights Indicators

Impunity

  • Independent Expert to update the Set of Principles for the protection and the promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity

Independence of Judiciary

  • Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

Indigenous Peoples

  • Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

  • Fellowship programme

  • Main page Indigenous

  • Open-ended inter-sessional Working Group on the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples

  • Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples

  • United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations

  • Working group on indigenous populations

Internal Displacement

  • Representative of the Secretary-General on internally displaced persons

International Solidarity

  • Independent expert on human rights and international solidarity

Mercenaries

  • Special Rapporteur on use of mercenaries as a means of impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination

  • Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination

Migration

  • Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW)

  • Migration and Human Rights

  • Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants

Millennium Development Goals and Human Rights

  • Millennium Development Goals and Human Rights

Minorities

  • Fellowship programme

  • Independent Expert on minority issues

  • Main page Minorities

Older persons

  • Older persons

Plans of Action for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

  • National Plans of Action for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

Poverty

  • Consultation on the draft of the guiding principles: “Extreme poverty and human rights: the rights of the poor”

  • Human rights dimension of poverty

  • Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights

Racism

  • Ad-Hoc Committee on the elaboration of complementary standards

  • Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

  • Durban Review Conference (2009)

  • Group of Independent Eminent Experts

  • Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism

  • Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent

  • Working Group on the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

  • World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimi-nation, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Durban (2001)

Rule of Law

  • Rule of Law

Slavery

  • Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of slavery

  • Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery

  • Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery

Terrorism

  • Independent expert on Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism

  • Special Rapporteur on human rights and terrorism of the Sub-Commission on the promotion and protection of human rights (Reports)

  • Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism

Torture

  • Committee against Torture (CAT)

  • Special Rapporteur on torture

  • Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture

  • United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture

 

Trafficking in Persons

  • Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children

Transnational Corporations

  • Special Representative of the SG on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises

Water and sanitation

  • Consultations on human rights and access to Water

  • Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation

  • Stakeholder’s views for the study on human rights obligations related to equitable access to safe drinking Water and sanitation

Women

  • Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

  • Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences

  • Women’s Rights and Gender main page

  • Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice

Required Skills

  • Communication

  • Writing

  • Reporting

  • Research

  • Interpersonal Communication

  • Management

  • Legal

  • Advocacy

  • Teamwork

  • Analytical and Critical Thinking

Organizations Working in the Field of Human Rights
Human rights is still in its budding stage in India yet there are many avenues open for a student specializing in this field. Career Opportunities are available with social services organizations and NGOs working with disabled, orphans, destitute, refugees, mentally retarded and drug addicted. Human rights professionals can also work with established NGOs who operate in the field of Human rights and civil liberties in general. Such NGOs also functions in the area of human rights activism, disaster and emergency relief, humanitarian assistance, child and bonded labour, displaced people, conflict resolution and public interest litigation among others.

International organizations and NGOs are constantly looking for people specializing in human rights. These include the United Nations Organizations.

Statutory government bodies and cooperation in India like the National and State Commissions (on Women, Children, Human rights, Labour, Welfare, Minorities, SC and ST) Military, Paramilitary and Police Departments, Panchayati Raj Institutions, Schools, Colleges and Universities including research bodies and Centre for Excellence, District rural development agencies and district urban development agencies, Human rights consultancy organizations run by lawyers and legal experts are some other places to tap for career openings. Also one can work with correctional institutions working in field of Juvenile delinquency and child abuse as well as in women reformation centers, prisons and homes for the homeless.

The demand for human rights experts in the field of academics is also likely to increase.

Educational

Institutions
Some Universities offering courses in Human Rights are:

  • Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh

  • Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi

  • Devi Ahilya Viswavidhyala, Indore

  • Dr. B R Ambedkar Central University, Lucknow

  • Indian Institute of Human Rights, New Delhi

  • Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi

  • Indian Law Institute, New Delhi

  • Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi

  • National Law School, Bangalore

  • University of Madras, Chennai

  • University of Mumbai, Mumbai

(The list is indicative only)

Course Duration

Most of the universities offer Masters or Post graduate programmes having human rights as one of their main subjects. Some Universities, Institutions and colleges also offer Diploma and Certificate. The eligibility to take admission in these courses is generally Bachelor’s Degree in any stream.

Remuneration

The salary in the field depends upon the nature of Job. However, the higher remuneration and various other benefits depend upon which sector one is working for like government, non government organizations, International Organizations and whether person is working in India or abroad.

The Author is associated with Faculty of Law, Amity University, Lucknow, email: manumanieche @gmail.com.


facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather



Leave a Reply