Of the many concepts employed in law and politics, the concept
of human rights is the most obvious expression of a moral ideal.
As such, it is also a view about, at least, the minimal social
conditions necessary for the existence of a healthy political
order. Yet, the specification, implementation and interpretation
of that ideal has, since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
been dominated by international law.
This fact should be striking for three reasons, all of them implied
in the above description of the ideal. The first is that a moral
ideal would seem to imply that the specification, definition and
interpretation of these rights is not a necessarily legal process—
the ideal is not a legal ideal, that is, unless one believes legal
codification is the only, or principal, way to express these moral
aims, and that legal interpretation is merely the working out of
these aims on a case-by-case basis.
Secondly, the ideal of human rights describes a social order in which
persons have social guarantees against certain abusive forms of behaviour,
or types of usage of state power. Law would normally be thought of as
just one element of such an order, and in fact the efficient operation of
law itself presupposes many other social practices and guarantees, for
example, a certain degree of social stability and confidence in the
Thirdly, there is no obvious reason why all human rights, or all aspects
of human rights, are most appropriately advanced through legal means,
unless that is one thinks that human rights ideals have an efficient
and functioning human rights law as their primary aim.
An additional complication for this simple image of a transference of
human rights aims or ideals into human rights legal aims and practice,
is the kind of laws that are involved. The legal codification of universal
human rights has taken place in international law which, by its nature,
has distinctive features we should be wary of when looking at what it
codifies and how. The way international law codifies human rights is
likely to be sensitive to a number of non-neutral influences, such
as inter-state negotiations, compromise, and the accommodation of
other goals and values than human rights themselves.
Furthermore, it is a significant feature of international human rights
law that, once ratification of international treaties has been achieved,
the process of implementation is state-driven.
Human rights legalized—defining, interpreting, and implementing an ideal
- Başak Çali and Saladin Meckled-García
We witnessed a modest amplification of community-oriented
rights in the body of international norms in the last decades
of the twentieth century, reflecting a sharper understanding
of the importance of community in the construction of personal
and social identity, and of community membership as a focus for
oppression. Indigenous peoples claim recognition as distinctive
human groups with a right to take their own decisions in matters
affecting them, and resist the depredations of others.
An important tendency of indigenous politics has been to search
for adaptations of human rights principles that relate to their
circumstances – reflected in their interventions into ongoing
deliberations towards a UN Declaration, and an American Declaration,
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. While a considerable amount
has been achieved in the elaboration of instruments specifically
dealing with indigenous rights, what is sometimes characterized
as a form of human rights ‘exceptionalism’ for these groups remains
Whatever recognition they have achieved thus far, a swing of the
pendulum against the recognition or welcoming of difference is
always possible, particularly in times of felt scarcity,globalizing
pressures and the ‘securitization’ of politics and law. Indigenous
peoples are ideal-type endogamous groups: self-defining, rooted
historically, eco-religious, and self-organized – though the groups
are also, as with all human groups, in part the product of interaction
with others, and of non-ideal categorization by racial supremacists,
colonists and the like.
- Patrick Thornberry
The conceptual understanding of human rights is benefited by considering the reasoning that moves the activists and the range and effectiveness of practical actions they undertake, including recognition, monitoring and agitation. It is argued that the richness of practice is critically relevant for understanding the concept and reach of human rights.
Human rights’ is one of the most important and most
interesting subjects. After all, the study of human
rights is essentially about how we treat all other people
with whom we share this planet. In its essence, striving
for the respect of human rights is a quest for
Human rights are about recognizing, honoring and protecting
the human dignity of each one of the six billion people on
this planet. When human rights are not protected, the
victim’s human dignity is thereby ignored. But what this
also does is to deny the humanity in all of us.
We study human rights because they are deeply interested
in making a positive contribution to the world. Our goal
is to build on this interest and this passion. Along with
this, our strong sense is that we want to ‘get into’
human rights because it is
the right thing to do.
Sabine C. Carey
Steven C. Poe
This book attempts to consider human rights as relevant to the activities of armed forces especailly in the conduct of their in military operations. It puts the human rights perspective in the position of members of the armed forces and those with whom they will come into contact during some form of military operation.
In performing their rudimentary duties to maintain peace and security, it always gives rise to human rights issues. This book explores the application of human rights standards in this military context.
It is often, however, part of the function of armed forces to take part in armed conflict, or at least to train for such a possibility. Thus international humanitarian law will also apply alongside the human rights obligations of the State in certain circumstances. However, it takes appropriate distinction in order to consider the different nature of, and issues involved in, such conflict from both a human rights and an international humanitarian law standpoint.
This book was written by Patricio N. Abinales of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University in 2008. It was an attempt to trace the process by which the Communist Party of the Philippines revived its most dynamic “sector”, the Youth and Students (YS) during the early years of the Marcos dictatorship. Here, Abinales tried to analyzed the party strategy of “legal struggle” in creating an array of youth and students’ political participation which later became the backbone of the resurgence of radical politics in schools and campuses from 70s to 90s. Abisales also pointed out that this strategy was not without its problems and difficulties especially with reference to CPP’s tenet on the revolutionary leadership based on the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry where YS movement plays only secondary supportive roles.
Human rights are now the dominant approach to social justice globally. But how do human rights work? What do they do? Drawing on anthropological studies of human rights work from around the world, this book examines human rights in practice. It shows how groups and organizations mobilize human rights language in a variety of local settings, often differently from those imagined by human rights law itself. The case studies reveal the contradictions and ambiguities of human rights approaches to various forms of violence. They show that this openness is not a failure of universal human rights as a coherent legal or ethical framework but an essential element in the development of living and organic ideas of human rights in context. Studying human rights in practice means examining the channels of communication and institutional structures that mediate between global ideas and local situations. Suitable for use on inter-disciplinary courses globally.
Human Rights in the Philippines metaphorically
are like buds to bloom still to the fullest.
They are flowers zealously nurtured in the
midst of adversity - beautiful and rare.
Take away human rights and human existence
and dignity are turned to nothing but illusions.
-Gilberth D. Balderama is a faculty member of
the University of Santo Tomas, College of Law
and Editor in Chief, UST Law Review.