Jurisprudence of Human Rights Violations and the “Responsibility to Protect” Doctrine by Kavya BS

The Author: Kavya BS is a Law Student Studying at Bangalore Institute of Legal Studies, Bangalore


The nineteenth and twentieth century has been an era of wars and revolutions, that of Industrialization, Colonization, and the World wars. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the world changed significantly during this period. Not just did the political system, individual lives were affected to a great extent. The social and educational system saw an upheaval. Nevertheless insecurity towards violation of natural rights had become severe. Fear, deaths and exploitation was rampant. The concept of human rights finds its authority in such a back drop. Franklin. D Roosevelt introduced the Four Freedoms that people everywhere in the world ought to enjoy in his 1941 State of Union address: Freedom from fear, Freedom from want, Freedom of speech, and of religion. [1] Subsequently, The United Nations was established on 24th October 1945 with an objective to establish peace and prevent wars in future and reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights. The first session of the General Assembly in 1946 drafting of an international bill of rights was taken in to consideration by Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of American President Franklin D Roosevelt who chaired the UN Human rights Commission. The bill was later named as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which specifically defines the rights that every individual should be able to enjoy naturally and is the foundational document approved by all the members of the General Assembly, inculcating the preamble of the United Nations in its essence.

It is the opinion of many that human rights are but a set of universal moral rights. And that “the law makes universal moral rights human rights, either by recognizing them as legal rights or by creating them in recognition of certain fundamental universal moral interests. It is significant to notice that it acquires a legal character when the universal moral rights that become human rights create moral duties on institutions, and hence for the law as well, to protect and recognize human rights. This understanding of legal and moral human rights is one of mutuality that goes beyond the traditional understanding of translation of moral rights to legal rights.”[2] Various treaties and bill of rights are but rules of conduct prescribing what to do and what not to do. Those whose conduct a rule governs are duty bearers and those to whom the duty bearers are not to do something or are to do something are right holders. Such rights and duties may be conferred by reason that it is 1) has been legislated, so to speak, by god; 2) warranted by “reason”; 3) protected in the legal system of one’s country 4) listed in a treaty to which one’s country is a party. [3] But these principles of universal moral human rights are widely diversified and cannot be recognized as one whole. For example, the right of Freedom of religion may be recognized in a country like India, and not in Saudi Arabia. Freedom to die with dignity-Euthanasia may be accepted by some countries and not by others.

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