Civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights,
inter alia, are the subject matter of international bill of human rights. The
formulation of the bill and its content was debated during adoption of the
Universal Declaration of 1948 and two binding international human rights
treaties of 1966. The legal force of 1948 declaration was questioned time and
again and thus two human rights treaties have also been debated on preferential
Over time it has been debated that the contents of the rights and the
states treatments on enforcements of rights are also not satisfactory, while in
the changing circumstances new generation of rights are not falling within the
original scheme of bill of human rights. In this background this chapter
demonstrates the scheme of formulation of international bill of human rights,
universal declaration and its utility, contemporary understanding of civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights, their relations with each
other, various generations of rights and states reservations including Indian
The term "international bill of rights" refers to three documents drafted under
the auspicious of the United Nations, each proclaiming a list of fundamental
human rights: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the
International Covenant on Economic, social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
In 1948, for the first time, countries agreed on a comprehensive list of
inalienable human rights, In December of that year, the United Nations General
Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a milestone
that would profoundly influence the development of international human rights
In December 1966, the UN General Assembly adopted two international treaties
that would further shape international human rights: the International Covenant
on Economic, social and
Cultural Rights (ICESCR). the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights (ICCPR). These are often referred to as the "the International
Together, the UDHR and these two Covenants are known as the International Bill
of Human Rights.
The International Bill of Rights:
When a state becomes a party to an International Instruments pertaining to human
rights treaty, it assumes obligations and duties under international law to
respect and protect human rights and to refrain from certain acts.
Three of the most important international instruments pertaining to human rights
are collectively known as the International Bill of Human Rights.
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and cultural Rights (ICESCR)
There are differences among States in how categories of rights are weighed,
based on the domestic balance between state, community, and individual rights.
Culture and religion also affect States view of these categories of rights.
However, the international community has agreed that there are certain human
rights and freedoms so fundamental human dignity that States have entered into
agreements to ensure non-derogation of those rights.
The specific rights
enumerated in various human rights instruments can be divided into several
Individual security rights: protects individuals against crimes such as murder, massacre, torture, and rape.
Due process rights (5th and 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution): protects individuals against abuse of the legal system, such as imprisonment without trial, trial with a jury, and excessive punishment.
Liberty rights (1st and 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution): protects freedom of belief, freedom of religion, freedom of movement, freedom to assemble, and freedom of association.
Political rights: protects an individual's liberty to participate in politics, including activities such as communicating, protesting, voting, and serving in political office.
Equality rights: protect equal citizenship, equality before the law, and non-discrimination.
Social rights: protects the right to access education for all citizens and prevents severe poverty or starvation.
Universal Declaration Of Human RightsBackground
In the aftermath of World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt spearheaded the U.S
involvement in the creation of the United Nations, as well as the drafting of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Eleanor Roosevelt's diplomatic
efforts with the Soviet Bloc countries in particular assisted greatly in the
final acceptance of the UDHR. On December 10, 1948 the United States voted in
favor of the resolution to adopt the declaration before the United Nations
Many scholars assert that all of the rights enumerated in the UDHR have become
customary international law.
Provision related to Human Rights in India
According to the National Human Right Commission of India, Human Rights as the
rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual
guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and
enforceable by courts in India.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
- National Human Rights Commission:
- ➢ The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India was established in 1993.
- ➢ The statute under which it is established is the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993.
- ➢ The Act provides for the establishment of State Human Rights Commissions.
- Human Rights as Incorporated in Indian Laws:
- ➢ Indian Constitution incorporated several provisions of human rights in Indian Constitution.
- ➢ Part III of Fundamental Rights from Article 14 to 32.
- ➢ Articles 14 to 18 of the Constitution guarantee the right to equality to every citizen of India.
- ➢ Article 19 deals with freedom of speech and expression and Article 21 provides Right to life and liberty.
- In case of violation of fundamental human rights.
- The citizen can move to the Supreme court under Article 32 and High Courts under Article 226.
- Directive Principles of State Policy from Articles 36 to 51.
- India is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and has ratified ICESCR and ICCPR.
Articles 1 to 21 of UDHR deal with the substantive provisions relating to civil
and political rights. These rights can broadly be categories into three groups
such as rights relating to the rule of law, liberty of people and freedoms.
- Rights relating to rule of law:
The preamble of the UDHR proclaims that human rights should be protected by the
rule of law. The reason behind of this proclamation was that even before the
adoption of UDHR, most of its rights under Articles 1 to 11 have been
incorporated into the domestic legal systems of most countries. These rights
related to several basic elements of the rule of law which are set forth as
rights such as:
- rights to life, liberty, equal dignity, and non-distinction, and personal security (Articles 1, 2 and 3)
- bans on slavery and torture (Articles 4 and 5)
- right to legal recognition, equality before the law (Article 6 and 7)
- effective remedies for violation of fundamental rights (Article 8)
- freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention (Article 9)
- guarantees of fair criminal procedures, the presumptions of innocence (Article 10)
- the principle of non-retroactivity in criminal law (Article 11)
- Rights relating to liberties of people:
Articles 12 to 17 of the UDHR are primarily concerned with the liberties of
people they live and interact with one another in civil and political society.
- right to be free of arbitrary interference with one's privacy, family, home or correspondence and from arbitrary attacks upon one's honour and reputation (Article 12).
- the freedom of movement and the right to return: the right to seek and enjoy political asylum (Article 13).
- right to seek asylum (article 14).
- the right to nationality (Article 15).
- the right to marry and to found a family, the right of the family as such to protection by society and the state (Article 16).
- the right to own property (article 17).
The scope of its
application of these rights may be varied in different social and political
contexts. Thus in case of property right different countries may legitimately
come to different conclusions about the condition under which private property
may be taken for public use.
- Rights Relating to Freedom
Articles 18 to 21 of the UDHR provides for the rights relating to freedom such
- freedom of religion and belief (Article 18).
- freedom of opinion, expression, and communication (Article 19).
- freedom of assembly and association (Article 20).
- the right to take part in government and equal access to public service (Article 21).
The right of religious freedom is
one of the oldest internationally recognized human rights. While the travaux
preparatory reveal that little attention was paid to the protection of the
freedom of nonbelievers. such freedom seems to be implicit in the word's
religion' or belief. The scope and ambit of freedom of religion is concerned
with right of individual to practice and propagate not only matters of faith or
belief but also all those rituals and observer which are regarded as integral
part of religion by the followers of its doctrines.
Thus religions are a matter
of faith but are not necessarily theistic and there are well known religions in
India like Buddhism and Jainism which do not believe in God. On the other hand.
though a religion undoubtedly has its basis in a system of beliefs or doctrines
which are regarded by those who profess that religion as conductive to their
spiritual well-being. it would not be correct to say religion is nothing else
but a doctrine or belief.
International covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
Articles 22 to 28 of the UDHR contain the economic, social and cultural rights.
Article 22, on the right to social security, provides: "everyone, as a member of
society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization,
through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with
the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and
cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his
Article 23(3), set in the context of right to work. provides that
"everyone who works has the right to
just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence
worthy of human dignity, and supplemented. if necessary, by other means of
social protection". The right to rest and leisure (Article 24), right to
standard of living adequate for the health of himself and of his family (Article
25), right to education (Article 26). right to participate in cultural life
(Article 27), right to good social and international order (Article 28) are
component part of the economic. social and cultural rights of the UDHR.
The UDHR laid down under Article 29 certain limitation to these rights and
freedom, by providing that everyone has duties to the community in which alone
final and full development of his personality is possible. According to Article
29(2) rights shall be attribute to the individuals subject to just requirements
of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
reason behind for inclusion of article 29 in the UDHR is that absolute
individual rights cannot be guaranteed by the modern state. The guarantee of
each of the above rights is therefore limited itself by conferring upon the
state power to impose reasonable restrictions by the law as may be necessary in
the large interest of the community. The rights under Articles 1 to 28 of the
UDHR are given priority and impose the responsibility upon the state, group and
person to give preference. Thus Article 30 provides that nothing in this
declaration may be interpreted for the destruction of any rights and freedoms
set forth herein.
The rights covered by the Covenants
The ICESCR and the ICCPR set out the civil, political, economic, social and
cultural rights that everyone is entitled to:
Examples of violations:
- Freedom from discrimination
- Right to equality between men and women
- Freedom from torture
- Freedom from slavery
- Right to liberty and security of person
- Right to be treated with humanity in detention
- Freedom of movement
- Freedom from discrimination
- Right to equality between men and women
- Freedom to choose and accept work
- Right to just and favorable conditions at work
- Right to form trade unions
- Right to strike
- Right to social security
Your civil, political, economic, cultural, and social rights can be violated
through various means. Violations occur when a government fails in its
obligations to respect, protect and fulfil these rights. Often a violation of
one of these rights is linked to a violation of other rights. Examples include:
- Forcibly evicting people from their homes (the right to adequate housing and the right to choose his or her place of residence)
- Water treatment facilities contaminating drinking water (the right to health and the right to life)
- Failure to ensure a minimum wage sufficient for a decent living (the right to work and the right to equality before the law)
- Denying a person access to information and services related to sexual and reproductive health (the right to health and the right to life)
The international bill of human rights consists of the five core human rights
treaties of the united nation that function to advance the fundamental freedoms
and to protect the basic human rights of all people. The bill influences the
decisions and actions of government, state and non- state actors to make
economics, social and cultural rights a top priority in the formation and
implementation of national, regional and international policy and law.
Student of 9th Semester BBA-LLB, Manav Rachna University, Faridabad