1 Human Rights and Democracy Comparative Government POL1010 2 March 2001 Nicola Pratt.
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1 Human Rights and Democracy Comparative Government POL1010 2 March 2001 Nicola Pratt
2 Overview What are human rights? What role do they play in democracy? How are they guaranteed? Why are some people against human rights?
3 Spot the odd one out 1.Everyone has the right to rest and leisure 2.Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression 3.Everyone has the right to choose not to respect any right that they deem to be contrary to their beliefs or religion
4 What are human rights? Human rights –Universal –Inalienable –Indivisible
5 … vs. civil rights Contract between individual & state Reciprocal relationship
6 Human Rights = Protection of human dignity Realising human potential Living free of oppression
7 What has it got to with politics? Democracy as a universal aspiration (like human rights) Democracy as the protector of human rights Governments have signed covenants
8 Human rights & democracy: the link Definitions not sufficient Principles embodied in institutions –All citizens are entitled to a say in public affairs, through civil society associations and through participation in government, and that this entitlement should be available equally.
9 How can we put these principles into practice? Providing the right institutions –Free and fair elections –Party plurality –Representative legislature –Independent judiciary –Independent media –Redress against maladministration
10 Enabling participation “civil and political rights” International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights European Convention on Human Rights –Freedom of expression –Freedom of association –Freedom of opinion –Right to vote –Right to stand for public office
11 Enabling participation for ALL 1900 – no universal adult franchise Problem of majoritarian democracies Social movement pressure –International Covenant on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) –International Covenant on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
12 Continued … International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights –Right to food –Right to work –Right to education –Right to decent housing –Right to leisure –Right to use own language
13 Continued … Right to security of the person –Freedom from torture –Freedom from arbitrary arrest –Freedom from war –Freedom from violence (public & domestic) Convention against Torture Convention on the Rights of the Child CEDAW, ICERD
14 How can we guarantee human rights? National –Independent judiciary –Representative parliament –Checks and balances –Legislation & policies –Redress –Commission/ombudsman/ specialised institutions –Raising awareness (public and authorities)
15 Continued … Regional –European Court of Human Rights International –UN Treaty Bodies –Optional protocols, etc. –International Criminal Court
16 Spot the odd one Which of the following countries has not accepted the competence of all UN treaty bodies to receive complaints from individuals? –Belgium –Ecuador –Finland –Netherlands –Senegal –United Kingdom
17 Why are some people against human rights? Contradiction between human rights and nation state system Human rights enforcement Marxists/Marxist feminists Neoliberals/New Right Communitarians Anthropocentric
18 In Conclusion Human rights as strong moral claim Basis for new solidarities Demonstrates need for change – a good thing!!!