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15: Issues with Human Rights Violations

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    Learning Objectives

    • Explain how the notion of universal human rights is based on shared basic needs and the principle of justice.
    • Recognize that human rights arose in three generations, addressing the civil-political, social-economic and environmental domains.
    • Explain how only first and second generation rights can be granted universally; third generation rights are limited by the availability of natural resources. Nevertheless, they are vitally important for socioeconomic equity and environmental security.
    • Understand that respect for and attention to human rights require a functional civil society; government and civil society uphold and strengthen each other.
    • Be aware that without a guarantee for a modicum of human rights what level of human security might be achieved in a country can only be temporary.
    • Explain how human rights are threatened by autocratic governments, corporate rule, crime and any group or organization that is not scrutinised by civil society.
    • Describe how human rights can be strengthened by monitoring, enforcement, activism and education. The latter is essential for the development of civil society and can take many forms from state-sponsored to grassroots-driven and subversive.
    • Acknowledge that particular challenges to enhance human security and cultural safety arise from the agenda of decolonisation.

    Sabina Lautensach and Alexander Lautensach

    This chapter is based on a paper presented at the 2011 GEIG conference (Lautensach & Lautensach, 2011b). We are grateful to Mr Farai Maguwu for contributing to this chapter.

    An important area of initiatives to pre-empt and to mitigate threats to human security lies in the promotion of human rights. Efforts to promote them, however, must take into account an important distinction between those rights that can be granted under virtually all circumstances (i.e. civil, political and social rights) and those that depend on limited physical resources and are therefore not always grantable. The most comprehensive way to ensure human rights involves and relies on civil society at all levels. In turn, attention to human rights is required to maintain and perpetuate civil society. This raises particular challenges for those countries that are currently coping with a deficit in human rights. In this chapter the possible roles of non-governmental organizations are discussed in strengthening the recognition of human rights. We explore the possible roles of top-down reform programmes and compare them with the potential of grassroots initiatives. A particularly powerful example of the top-down kind is public education. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the influence of cultural context, the extent to which culture defines, and ought to define, moral norms such as rights and duties, as well as the limits of such definitions.

    The discourse on human security continues to mirror the famous words of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, “we will not enjoy security without development. We will not enjoy development without security, and we will not enjoy either without human rights” (Annan, 2005, p. 1). Annan’s words are further buttressed by Nelson Mandela who once said, “we do not want freedom without bread, nor do we want bread without freedom’. [1] Whilst the central role of human rights in promoting human security is no longer contested, the methodologies and strategies of putting human rights at the heart of human security are complex, culture sensitive and context specific. This chapter looks at how civil society can contribute towards the attainment of human security through building a culture of human rights using top down and bottom up approaches.

    15: Issues with Human Rights Violations is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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