The following research paper aims at explaining the concept of human rights. The
events that led to the formation of the concept and the historical
background. The paper further lays down how the concept of human rights gained
popularity mainly after the second world war with the formation of the United
Nations and the United Nations commission on human rights. The first 5 treaties
formulated as steps towards stopping violation of human rights based on race,
religion, caste, class, place of birth, ethnicity, nationality, and gender.
Furthermore, the research paper transits into the use of treaties in the
international world in Indian case context. The case of Vishakha and others v.
The state of Rajasthan, 1997 is explained briefly. The latter part of the
research paper consists of the additional analysis of the Palestine and Israel
conflict and how it has been a grave violation of human rights and is a matter
of concern. In the end a conclusion is drawn on the entire research paper.
International Human Rights as the name suggests are the rights conferred to
humans. A human, under whatever circumstances cannot be fully alienated from
these rights. In other words, these rights are part and parcel of human
existence and every human is born with these rights. These rights are universal
to all people irrespective of their race, religion, faith, place of birth,
gender, and nationality. The world has seen numerous civil, political, cold,
military wars in the past centuries. the reasons, motives, and nature of those
wars might be different but there was one commonality in all of them, especially
in military and political wars, cruelty against people
this context does not necessarily define only brutality but various other
aspects like deprivation, discrimination, and mistreatment in general. Moreover,
whenever there is a situation of war, human rights always get compromised in
some or the other way. This research paper elucidates the evolution of Human
rights beginning from the inception of human rights, various historical events
because of which the concept of human rights gained relevance, the relationship
between human rights and the United Nations,
Evolution of International Human Rights
As written and believed by various scholars and human rights students, the
inception of human rights is traced back to ancient Greece and Rome. Initially,
the term natural law was not very prominent, and only a few ancient Greek
philosophers like Aristotle and Plato talked about it. However, both of them did
not have specific theories on the subject. while Plato just talked about this
concept in some of his theories, Aristotle worked mostly on deriving how law and
nature are two different concepts. In 300 BCE another school of thought
flourished, Stoicism, found by Zeno of Citium in Athens. This school of thought
held that the law of nature is a valuable concept.
According to this school, a
man's behaviorshould always be judged according to the law of nature. As the
name suggests, the law of nature means the law of God. It was believed that God
is the supreme power and he has already set certain norms and regulations for
the human race to follow, humans should conduct themselves as per those norms.
According to one of the Roman philosophers named Ulpian, Natural law is
universal and belongs to both Romans and non-Romans. it is a mixture of law and
morals, for a law to be considered valid it needs to hold some morality.
law slowly started to gain popularity and various contributions continued to be
made in the field especially during the renaissance and the age of
enlightenment. Natural law not only puts a liability on humans to conduct their behaviour as
per the prescribed norms of nature, but it is also an asset to them. Natural law
provides certain rights to humans. These rights are known as Natural rights.
They are universal and are conferred to all humans by birth.
In the 19th
century, the downfall of Natural law began because of its constant controversies
with another school of thought, legal positivism. This school of thought was
developed in the 18th and 19th centuries by legal philosophers like Jeremy Bentham, Thomas Hobbes, and John Austin. Unlike Natural law that confers
inherent rights to people, legal positivism is a law that is conferred to people
not by nature but by humans themselves through various legislations.
difference between the two is that Naturalists believe that Natural law is
universal and does not belong to any particular place, whereas, Positivists
believe that territorial boundaries matter and legal laws and rights change
according to change in political territory throughout the world. In other words,
laws and rights are not universal. Legislations have the power to make and
amend laws with the evolution of societies, unlike natural laws that cannot be
amended and shall remain the same till the time of Earth's existence.
Positivists completely rule out the relevancy of morality that is given utmost
value in the concept of Natural law.
In the 18th century, came the age of Rennaisance in Europe (with great emphasis
on the Glorious revolution in 1688 and French revolution in 1789). During this
tenure, people began gaining confidence and consciousness about human nature. It
would be appropriate to say that Locke was one of the most important
philosophers in the Glorious revolution (1688-89).
he proposed that certain
rights existed even before human beings came into existence, these inherent
rights will always remain constant till the end of human civilization.
writings, he also listed a few fundamental natural rights namely:
- Right to Life
- Right to Liberty,
- Right to Property.
he further stated that once
human enters the civil society, he surrenders himself to the state and its the
state's responsibility to confer and protect these rights. When a state fails to
confer natural rights to its citizens, it gives rise to a revolution.
Revolutions following the Glorious revolution like the English, American, and
French revolutions paved way for revolutionary agitations. in the 19th century,
with the abolition of slavery, a new treaty was adopted by the international
world. if is closely analyzed then it is not after the world war that the
concept of human rights got enrolled in the legal standards. it happened far
before that. the first-ever legal standard adopted was by the ILO, established
in 1919 under the treaty of Versailles. ILO's primary principle is to protect
the rights of the workers and make sure that they are not exploited.
League of Nations and Human Rights
The Positivists believed that a law or norm can be justified only if it has some
experiential background that can be verified. By the time World war-I took
place, i.e. 1914-1918, the majority of the public were in favor of the
positivists and hardly anyone believed in the natural law concept anymore. apart
from big and small movements like the Universal suffrage movement, the
enlightenment amongst various trade unions, etc, Germany played undoubtedly, the
most important role because it was only after the wrath that Hitler had caused,
the rise and fall of the Nazi that the concept of Human rights boomed. The
hardships caused to people during Hitler's tenure woke people from their sleep.
Various theorists, legal philosophers, and scholars expressed their views in the
form of their theories and writings stating that whatever legislation a
political regime makes for its citizens might not always be for their welfare
and maintenance of discipline in the country and shall not be treated as gospel
truth, because, in the context of the Nazi regime, it was seen that all the
atrocities and brutalities caused to the people were legal as per the law
formulated by the Hitler regime but it was unjust for the people.. therefore,
there should always be certain rights that should belong to the citizens no
matter what the situation is.
These rights shall never be taken away from them.
therefore, if all these events are taken into consideration and a summary is
drawn, it would be appropriate to say that it was only by the second half of the
20th century that Human rights as a concept received the due importance it
deserved. the League of Nations mostly remained silent on the topic of Human
rights. Many countries and their leaders like Japan and the USA (Woodrow Wilson)
tried to initiate the concept, be it in the form of asking the allied forces to
vote in favor of supporting freedom of religion or the radical equality clause,
were not given any support. The league was too afraid to support any
'controversial' or 'radical' ideas of the world fearing any further tensions in
United Nations Organization and Human Rights
The US president, Woodrow Wilson, in his document consisting of 14 points laid
down the formation of such an organization that would help redress any dispute
that might occur between two nations. This organization was named The League of
and it took birth in 1919. Everybody had seen the harmful impact of
world war I and how it had drained the participating countries financially,
militarily, and politically. Despite such initiative towards protecting the
world from another world war, it still took place.
World War II (1st September
1939- 2nd September 1945) happened even with the presence of a dispute redressal
organization in the international world. It was evident that The league had
failed. It had become incompetent and it was time to replace it with a new
organization. The United Nations succeeded the league of nations. the
representatives of over 50 governments met in San Francisco in 1945 to formulate
a Charter for the new organization.
The UN Charter lays down 'equal and
inalienable rights of all members of the human family. Upholding these human
rights principles as "the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the
world" is fundamental to every undertaking of the United Nations.
United Nations Commission on Human Rights
the United Nations General Assembly has five main bodies, out of which the
Economic and Social Council mainly deals with human rights. ECOSOC has 54
members elected by the General Assembly.
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights consists of 53 member states
elected by ECOSOC. however, the United Nations Commission on Human rights was
replaced by the United Nations Human rights council (UNHRC) because the former
fell into controversy and most of its members were themselves the biggest
abusers of human rights. the UNHRC was established on 15th March 2006 and has
its headquarters in Geneva Switzerland with 47 members for a period of 3 years
on a regional basis. The UNHRC protects and fosters human rights in the
international world. The UNHRC focuses on investigating cases of human rights
violations in member states of the United Nations. UNHRC works in coordination
with the office of the High commissioner of Human Rights.
Following are the Human Rights that are given maximum importance and are upheld
to the maximum extent:
- Freedom of assembly
- Freedom of expression and free speech
- Freedom of religion
- Protection of women's rights
- Protecting the rights of the LGBT community and that of racial and ethnic
Members of United Nations Human Rights Council- the council has 47 members who
serve for 3 years and are not eligible to be re-elected immediately after 2
The United Nations regional groups are as follows:
- Africa- Senegal, Gabon, Malawi, Côte d'Ivoire
- Asia- Uzbekistan, China, Pakistan, Nepal
- Eastern Europe- Russia, and Ukraine
- Latin America- Cuba, bolivia, Mexico
- The Caribbean- Cuba, Bolivia, Mexico
- Western Europe- France and the United Kingdom
The United Nations Human Rights Council replaced the former commission on human
rights because many of its members were themselves violating the human rights of
its citizens. The UN made sure that such a problem did not arise in the new
council. Therefore, the UNGA acts as a watchdog on the various regional members.
The General Assembly has the power to suspend the rights of any regional member
to the council that violates the human rights of its respective citizens.
However, a 2/3rd majority in the assembly is mandatory to suspend a nation for
violating human rights.
Subsidiary body and Advisory committee
The Universal Periodic Review working group monitors and reviews the progress
among all 193 members of the United Nations. The committee conducts three and a
half hours of debate to examine every country's human rights progression.
The United Nations Human Rights Council also has an advisory committee,
established in 2007. the committee consisted of all the members of regional
For any council/committee/commission to function, it must have a properly laid
down complaint procedure. The procedure, in this case, would help maintain
consistency and reliable reporting of violations of human rights and other
fundamental rights all over the world.
Following are the working groups that
help in implementing the complaint procedure:
- Working Group on Communication:
The group consists of 5 experts chosen by the
advisory committee, one from the five regional groups. Like the regional
members, these five experts also serve for a period of 3 years and work on
prioritizing a complaint and judging whether it deserves investigation or not.
- Working Groups on Situations:
This group comes second. Once the working group
on communications prioritizes and decides that a case needs investigation, the
working groups on the situation come into the picture. This group holds a
meeting twice a year.
United Nations Treaty Bodies
Treaty experts monitor the implementation of human rights treaties among all the
treaty signatories, they also review and send recommendations in case of
complaints raised against a country for violation of human rights. all the
signatories are obligated to send their respective state reports related to the
signed human rights treaty after which the treaty bodies interpret those
Following are the treaty bodies related to various human
- Human Rights Committee: International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights and its Optional Protocols
- Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and its Optional Protocol
- Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: International
Convention on the elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination
- Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women: the
convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
and its Optional Protocol
- Committee Against Torture: Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and its Optional Protocol
- Committee on the Rights of the Child: Convention on the Rights of the
Child and its Optional Protocols
- Committee on Migrant Workers: International Convention on the Protection
of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
- Committee on the Right of Persons with Disabilities: International
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional
Major International Human Rights Treaties
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)Adopted in December 1948, this declaration consists of 30 articles and lays down
the rights and freedoms of all the members of the human race. Among all the UN
members at that time, 48 members voted in favor of the resolution, and 8
abstained. None of the members voted against the resolution. This declaration
played a significant role in the development of International Human Rights law
and was a contributing factor in the formation of the bill of human rights.
1945, President Harry Turman appointed Eleanor Roosevelt to the US delegation to
the UN. In 1946, after becoming the chair of the United Nations Commission on
human rights, Eleanore decided to take the task of drafting a human rights
declaration. She was able to draft the declaration because she had the
experience of both the world wars and had worked in the atmosphere where the
hurt soldiers of the war lived.
In this way, she was able to monitor the
psychological condition of the soldiers closely and she also visited the various
hardships that affected cities during world war II. However, this task of
formulating a human rights declaration was difficult because the two
superpowers, the US and the Soviet Union were adamant about not accepting each
other's definition of human rights. Moreover, US politicians even declined to
support the UN Social and Economic rights because they considered them to be
communist in nature.
India was a new country at that time but played a significantly
important role. UN at that time had only 2 women as its members. one was Eleanor
Roosevelt and the other was Hansa Mehta, an Indian. Hansa Mehta changed the very
first article of the Human Rights declaration. she changed the article stating,
'all men are born free and equal' to 'all human beings are free and equal'.
Despite the unending efforts to formulate the declaration, it is not binding in
nature. However, many countries have used it as a role model in the formulation
of their respective laws.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was inspired by code Napolean.
Code Napolean consisted of rules and regulations formulated by a renowned
ancient leader- Napolean Bonaparte.
The declaration initially lays down some basic concepts of human rights like
human dignity, liberty, and equality. Slavery was among one of the most
practiced forms of discrimination in the previous decades. Therefore, the makers
of the declaration laid specific emphasis on thoroughly explaining and
introducing concepts like the right to life and prohibition of discriminatory
practices like slavery (article 3-5); the concept of human rights like freedom
of movement; freedom of residence; property right, and right to a nationality
(article 12-17); freedom of thought, religion, expression, peaceful association
(article 18-21), etc in detail. Three other forms of rights like cultural,
social, and economic rights, including healthcare, were sanctioned. It
emphasized the importance of motherhood and childhood - the care that it
requires (article 22-27). Article 6-11 of the declaration lays down fundamental
rights and remedies for their violation.
Genocide Convention, 1948Genocide means mass killing of people belonging to a particular ethnicity,
community, or nation with the motive and intention of destroying the nation,
community, or ethnicity. Taking Human rights into consideration, Genocide is the
biggest attack on human rights. As seen in the past decades, every genocide has
inflicted huge loss and havoc on mankind and such evils can only be eradicated
with the help of international cooperation. Therefore, the United Nations
General Assembly in its resolution 96(1) passed a declaration on 11 December
1946 stating that Genocide is the cruelestform of violation of human rights and
it is a crime in international law and condemned by the civilized world. The
General Assembly resolution 206 A (9 December 1948), the convention on
prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide was signed and ratified. It
came into force on 12th January 1951. This convention consists of 19 articles.
Article 1 forms the basis of the convention and lays down that irrespective of
the circumstances, be it warlike or normal, genocide is a crime in the
international world that has to be prevented and punished. Article 2 defines
genocide and lays down 5 acts that form a genocide. The intention behind such
acts shall be to destroy particular racial, national, ethical, and religious
The 5 acts are:
Article 3 lays down the acts which shall be punishable in the
- Killing members of the group;
- Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
- Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to
bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
- Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
- Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
all these crimes are punishable in nature and no political leader,
constitutional leader, or the general public is immune to punishment (article4).
Article 5 and 6 enumerates that all the parties signing the convention shall
make appropriate amendments in their legislations to incorporate rules and
regulations as per the provisions of this convention in their legal statutes.
the governments of signatory nations shall also formulate laws that would
penalize the offenders and the competent state tribunal of that particular
place where the genocide took place shall try such cases.
- conspiracy to
Article 7 delivers
that genocide and other acts mentioned under article 3 of the convention shall
not be confused as political crimes for the sheer purpose of extradition. The
meaning of extradition can be explained with the help of an example; A is a
criminal who committed a crime in state B. He was abducted in state C. As per
legal provisions, state B can send in a formally writing document requesting
state B to send A to state C because he had committed the crime in that
jurisdiction. It means the transfer of jurisdiction from one state to another.
Article 8 hands in a very crucial and wide-ranging power to the signatory
The UN charter is the most powerful document in the international
world and lays down a variety of provisions which the countries may follow in
different circumstances. In this case, the article gives the nations/states/ any
contracting party to call upon a competent organ of the United Nations to take
the most suitable and appropriate step as per the UN charter so that social
evils and crimes like genocide and others mentioned under article 3 are
prevented and can be eradicated sooner.
If the contracting parties have any
conflict among themselves related to the interpretation or execution of the
convention then such dispute shall be solved by the International Court of
Justice by sending in a request under the name of any of the parties in dispute.
Article 11 states that on 11th January 1950 the convention shall be acceded to
on behalf of a state or non-state member of the united nations and the
instrument of accession shall be deposited with the secretary-general of United
On 31 December 1945, all the states shall sign the convention. Article
12 can be treated as an extension of article 11 because both are interdependent.
The total number of ratifications and accessions required is 20. Once all 20
accessions and ratifications are received, a 'process-de general' shall be drawn
by the secretary-general, and a copy of the same shall be sent to all the
signatory members. The convention signed shall remain in force for a period of
10 years as per article 14.
If a party does not denounce it before 6 months from
the expiration date, it can be extended for another 5 years. However, the
Convention does not need to remain in force even after the party has not
denunciated it. If 6 months before the expiration of the convention, after
denunciation, only 16 members are left then the convention shall cease to exist.
The convention gives its parties the right to request a revision of the
The refugee convention, 1951 whenever there is a situation of war in a country, a natural disaster, or any
other situation like this, the first ones to get affected by it are the people
living in that area. Such situations might also arise in which the last resort
left with the people is evacuation, leaving the area where they have been
residing all their lives. Such people relocate to a whole new place leaving
their jobs, houses, ancestral properties behind.
Mostly, people don't take the step of relocating by leaving the place inflicted
by war or a natural disaster, their circumstances force them to. In the
international world, people who are forced to leave their country to save their
lives and escape from war or other uncontrollable situations are known as
refugees. In the history of wars, it is seen that the refugee problem has always
been persistent. Be it World war 1, world war, Indo-Pak war, in recent times,
climate change has played one of the key roles in causing a refugee crisis.
However, the UN's definition of a refugee is as follows:
A refugee is someone who, owing to a
well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion,
nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is
outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is
unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having
a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence, is
unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.
However, climate change does not fit in this definition because of which a new
term has been introduced in recent times for people leaving their countries
because of climate change and that is 'climate refugees'. The concept of
refugees started to flourish only after the first world war because it had
caused widespread bloodshed and hardships for people therefore, they decided to
leave their country and settle in an alien place.
The league of Nations at that
time had begun dealing with the problem of refugees but it only gained momentum
and strength after the second world war under the United Nations. The UN
understood that this problem is a severe violation of human rights and unfair
for the people. For solving such a problem, international integration shall play
the most important role. All the countries of the world have tojoin their hands
and work together to find a solution to this problem.
Therefore, the United
Nations formulated the first-ever legally binding international convention which
lays down the standards of treating the refugees. this convention is known as
the United Nations convention on refugees, 1951. World War 2 ended in 1945 and
on the 28th of July 1951 this convention was adopted because there were more
than 10 million people who lived in different parts of the world as refugees
which made the refugee crisis an immediate problem that had to be tackled.
convention consists of 149 members and thoroughly defines refugees; rights
conferred to them and the obligations on the states to protect the conferred
rights. With rights, these refugees also have certain rights and
They are as follows:
- Article 2 states that all the refugees living in a nation shall abide by
the laws, rules, and regulations of that particular nation. Being a refugee
does not mean that the basic laws are different for them. They are as much
of a citizen as the other people residing in the country
- Article 3 and 8 state that a refugee, because he belongs to a separate
nation and the country he is currently residing in is not his home country
does not mean that he should be treated differently or in a discriminative
manner wholely based on his/her nationality.
- Article 7 talks about reciprocity. Reciprocity, in this context, can be
understood with the help of an example: 'A' is a refugee belonging to the
country 'X'. There was a state of war in country 'X' because of which A had
to leave it and move to a new country 'y'. 'A', because now he lives in the
country 'y', the rights conferred to him by country 'y' will only be limited
to the premises of that country. Country 'X' may or may not have the same
laws related to refugees. Therefore, article 7 states that whatever rights
one country offers to the refugees need not be similar to the rights
conferred by the country of refugee's origin. However, this concept is very
obvious because refugees anyhow do not have any protection from their home
states or their countries of origin.
- If a nation allows and formulates special laws for refugees, it does not
mean that it keeps itself and its people secondary. A nation has all the
rights to take provisional measures against a refugee if the case involves
national interest. This is laid down under article 9 of the convention.
- Article 12-30: The contracting parties should give respect to the status
of a refugee (also marital), a refugee shall be provided with administrative
assistance as well as free access to courts. It is the responsibility of the
contracting party to provide the refugees with their identity and travel
papers. They also have the right to transfer the property belonging to them.
Under article 29, refugees are not subject to pay any taxes different from
that paid by the citizens of the country.
- Article 31 states that if a refugee illegally enters the premises of a
nation but in the stipulated period as per the legislation of the country,
presents himself before the court, then no penalty can be charged on
- Article 32 states that this convention does not allow the contracting
parties to expel refugees. No country has the right to forcibly send the
refugee back to his home country. The prohibition of such forceful return is
a part of Customary International law.
- Article 34 elucidates the concepts of assimilation and naturalization to
refugees. Assimilation means incorporation, and naturalization is a way of
entry into a country as a citizen.
- Article 35 and 36 make sure that the contracting parties know that the
UN is the supreme watchdog and requires to be provided with information like
legislation incorporation as per the provisions of the convention. The
nations shall also cooperate with UNHRC.
- Article 38- If there is a conflict between two contracting parties then
they can resolve it by presenting their case in the International Court of
The Refugee convention 1951 is binding in nature. Even if a convention is
legally binding, it always needs an authority that enforces it. Unfortunately,
there is no such authority in this case. The United Nations High Commissioner
for refugees has a supervisory role but no authority to enforce the convention.
This convention does not have any formal way of filing a complaint. However, if
a country wishes to file a complaint (which never happened in the history of
this convention), it can do so by filing a complaint in the international court
Discrimination in employment convention, 1960convention no. 111 adopted on 25 June 1958 and came into force 15 June 1960. The
General conference on international labor law took place in Geneva by ILO's
governing body. The conference took place to discuss certain matters in public
interest one of which was 'discrimination in employment.
conference analyzed the agenda keeping the declaration of Philadelphia under
consideration and decided that it should be shaped in the form of a convention.
According to the declaration of Philadelphia, every human has the right to
pursue their material well-being and spiritual development irrespective of their
creed, gender, or race. Moreover, the people shall be put in an environment of
freedom, dignity, social security, and equal opportunities.
Like most of the conventions, the first article defines discrimination and the
various attributes included in it. Discrimination in most layman terms can be
defined as an unjust behavior towards a specific category of people. This
discrimination can be on any grounds- race, religion., caste, creed, or place of
birth. Article 1 states something similar tothis, it states that, if any person
is treated differently/distinctly or preference is given to a person based on
race, color, sex, religion, political opinion, etc., then such behavior tends to
impair equality of all types including that of job opportunities and occupation.
However, the article lays down that if a job requires some inherent requirements
and for this purpose, people applying for it are treated distinctly or given
preference over each other then such treatment shall not be considered as
When a nation ratifies and adopts an international treaty then it also has
to make suitable changes in its already existing laws putting them in harmony
with the agenda of the ratified convention or treaty. Similarly, article 2 under
which the convention states that a nation should formulate a national policy
that incorporates the agenda and promotes equality of opportunity in terms of
employment and occupation. India has incorporated this under part 3 of the
constitution containing fundamental rights (article 16). Labour is one of the
greatest assets for a developing country and a country must protect and provide
them with certain rights.
Whenever a nation in the International world adopts or
ratifies a treaty, especially that which deals with labor laws, it must
formulate laws complementing the provisions of the treaty but at the same time,
it should also make sure that the two main parties to labor laws in a country,
i.e. employer and employees are satisfied with the new laws and are given enough
right to portray their stances. It is only after both the parties and the
government is cooperative and on board with the new policy that that system can
For this purpose, the national government should also take
additional measures like organizing educational programs that would help people
in understanding and accepting the new policy. Moreover, vocational training or
guidance is no exception to the policy and shall ensure its observance. Once the
initial steps are taken, the international organization, in this case, ILO,
shall require an annual report. This report must state the measures taken by the
governments of the nations in incorporating the agenda and provisions of the
treaty or convention ratified by them. (Article 3).
No matter how many rights are provided for the welfare of a nation's citizens,
national security is the most important and never be compromised. Therefore, the
drafters of the convention made sure that they add an article solely dedicated
to situations in which an individual is involved or suspected of being involved
in activities prejudicial to national security. In such cases, any measure taken
by the appropriate authorities against that individual will not amount to
discrimination (article 4).
Similarly, if, after consultation with workers and
employers, such measures exist which provide an upper hand to persons with
disabilities, poor economic status, or, family responsibilities then it shall
also not amount to discrimination (special measures may also exist for women).
Discrimination against women convention, 1979Discrimination in all forms is unacceptable and a violation of the rights of
humans. However, there was undoubtedly a greater need for a convention entirely
designated to women. The reason being, women have been subject to all forms of
discrimination and inhumane behavior since time immemorial. Prostitution,
Sati Pratha, violence, and the list can go on forever. The United
Nations has been working hard to improve the status of women and stop such
practices that might further jeopardize their safety. Therefore, it would be
right to say that the discrimination against women convention, 1979 is the
greatest outcome of the UN's more than 25 years of work.
The convention came
into force in 1981 (3rd September). Every form of discrimination and inequality
faced by women is talked about in it. It can be said that this is the mother
convention for all the other treaties and declarations related to the
elimination of discrimination against women. Therefore, it would be right to say
that the discrimination against women convention, 1979 is the greatest outcome
of the UN's more than 25 years of work. The convention came into force in 1981
Every form of discrimination and inequality faced by women is
talked about in it. It can be said that this is the mother convention for all
the other treaties and declarations related to the elimination of discrimination
The United Nations Commission on the status of women was
established in 1946 and it is one of the first steps towards monitoring the
rights of women, protecting them, and promoting them. Human rights were
established as a concern much earlier than this convention. Therefore, the main
motive behind it was bringing quality of treatment between men and women, for
which, it contains an international bill of rights for women exclusively and the
meaning of the word 'equality.
A particular section of society, for example,
needs a solid system that acknowledges its rights. In a national setup, this
support system is the government that has been assigned the task of taking such
measures and making such changes in the already existing legislation to bring
equality between the two major sexes in the country, and more importantly, these
measures shall help women in preventing the violation of their rights and
also promote them.
Specifically in India's context, gender discrimination has been persistent for
centuries now. The condition might have improved today but certain geographical
belts still practice gender discrimination at its peak. However, as per
NITI Ayog's report of 2018, most of the Indian states fell in the red zone for
discrimination based on sex.
Vishakha And Others v/s The State Of Rajasthan And Others, 1997
Another strand that can be read along with discrimination at the workplace is
sexual exploitation at the workplace. This topic has been a burning one since
the strong move of the Supreme Court in 1997. Under this landmark judgment, the
constitutional validity of part 3 of India's constitution. It stated that
fundamental rights are called fundamental because they are equal for all
irrespective of someone's race, religion, sex, place of birth, descent, or any
Backdrop- A lady named Bhanwari Devi who worked for social causes was gang-raped
by a group of men who belonged to an upper class and a rich background. The lady
was in her 50s and resided in a village near Jaipur. The reason for such an
action by the so-called 'upper class' men was that the lady stopped the marriage
of an under-aged girl.
The worst part of the whole scenario was that the lady
didn't get any support from the people, including officers, village people, and
doctors. Most probably because they were given money to keep quiet. The heroic
step of the lady did not make any difference.
She had the courage of speaking up
about the crime in a country like India, where most of the cases go unnoticed
and never get filed. After this, various aggrieved women and organizations
fighting for their rights gathered the courage to speak about the topic and put
their foot forward. They together formulated a collective initiative of
'Vishakha' - therefore the name of the case is Vishakha and OTHERS v. the
State of Rajasthan
The main motive behind this collective action was to bring justice for Bhawani
Devi for the horrendous act committed by so-called men of the high class. Their
demand was very much needed because sexual offenses against women cannot be
recorded to have started in a particular year, they have been existing without
being noticed or talked about for time immemorial. It is only after the people
gained consciousness that they decided to stop this evil based on gender.
was exactly the stance of Vishakha and others and they demanded proper laws
which would stop or at least initially lessen the exploitation faced by women at
the workplace for decades. Therefore, they filed a petition before the Supreme
court of India. The apex court, in response, stated that any behaviortowards a
woman that is sexual in nature, whether verbal or physical, will be defined as
If we go by the data, it is evident that sexual harassment at
work has existed in various parts of the world and not just in India. Therefore,
because of the presence of an international body like the UN, the world was able
to tackle the situations of human rights violations in a better way. Along with
the definition of harassment, the supreme court also for the first time indited
an instrument of international law, 'the convention on elimination of
discrimination of all forms against women'.
The apex court laid down the following guidelines as important norms which
have to always be kept in proper view whenever a woman is employed at any
- Every company, no matter how small or big the enterprise is, should
always make sure that their employee's interests are protected in every
form. In the case of women, because there are alarming number of cases of
all types of harassment, the employer has toformulate a proper section in the company's code
of conduct dedicated solely to guidelines related to prevention of sexual
harassment against women employees. This would help in many ways. The women
would be able to work and earn wages for their families and they would also feel
secure at their workplaces and show better performances with greater
concentration in their respective works and fields.
- If a company formulates norms related to prevention of harassment
against women, it has to abide by this guideline of the court of formulation
such bodies and committees which consists of women or at least of which a
woman is the head. This would also help tremendously because if a woman
faces any type of harassment at her workplace and wishes to complain against
the wrong doers, she will feel more comfortable in sharing it with a woman
rather than with a man.
- Now, only formulating certain norms related to prevention of harassment
against women and setting up women as head officials within the company
premises will not be sufficient. The most important guideline of all the
important guidelines is that the company should focus on drafting and
instituting such actions and punishments for the people who violate the
already laid down norms in the company's code of conduct.
- Another most important aspect is rather unknown in various regions of
the country till date. People are unaware of their rights because of which
most of the times they do not even file a complaint if something wrong
happens with them. Therefore, providing legal aid is a must in every set up.
The company has to make sure that women are provided with legal aid and they
are aware of their rights and given proper knowledge related to what they
should do if they face any form of mental or sexual harassment at work.
These guidelines might only be 4 in number but as far as their validity is
considered, the court has given them 'de facto' legal status.
Cases of exploitation before the guidelines
- IPC, article 354
- IPC, article 509
Israel And Palestine Conflict
The entire conflict revolves mostly around three cities named'Jerusalem, Gaza
and west bank'. Jerusalem is a very old city, geographically situated in the
middle east. This city was captured by the Israelis in 1967. There has been a
persistent tension between the Muslims and Jews living in these three areas.
Israel is a country located in the east facing direction of the Mediterranean
Sea inhabited mostly Jews and Palestine is also situated in the east
Mediterranean area and is inhabited by Arabic Palestinians. The conflict between
the two communities, the Jews and Muslims has persisted for centuries. It is
believed to have since 950 BC because as per the historic records, a temple was
built and destroyed on the land of today's Israel by a king names Solomon and
Nebuchadrezzar respectively, but the conflict can only be traced politically in
the 20th century till today. Palestine is inhabited by a militant group named
'Hamas' which means Islamic resistance movement and has its roots in the Arabic
This group mostly lives in Gaza and has shown violence towards Israel in the
past. The main allegation they pose on Palestinians is that the Muslims living
in the Gaza and west bank face discrimination because the strong and larger
territory of Israel which largely controls these areas. The group has retaliated
against this alleged discrimination by attacking them several times.
This conflict had gone so out of control that the world oppressor Britain
also could bring about a solution to it and had to form Israel. In
1948 Israel was formed and Palestinians despised this decision. Because of the
formation of a new country which was mostly occupied by Jews and Muslims lived
in minority, they were forced to leave their homes and this gave rise to a huge
refugee problem leaving more than 70000 people displaced.
Out of the three
centric cities talked about above, Gaza and west bank was occupied by Egypt and
Jordan respectively and the remaining most important ancient city, Jerusalem was
divided between two strong armies of Jordan and Israel. The most important
changing point in the whole situation took place when Israel won the conflict
and occupied almost all the areas surrounding it, including west
bank, Jerusalem and majority portions of Gaza.
presently the militant group names Hamas is retaliating from
Gaza's side, and it is said that the force used by Israel to stop them are much
more strong and larger. The al Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest shrine of the
Muslim community and religion has been one such subject which has always waged
wars and conflicts. The attack on this shrine has made the Muslims living in
Israel tilt towards the Palestinians. Amid this political instability and the
sheer unhappiness of the people with the leader of Palestine, Muhammad
Abbas puts the country at a greater risk of a civil war stating the incompetency
of the political aspect.
The Gaza's health ministry reported that the conflict caused injuries of various
types to over 2000 people and alleged killing of over 250 people. This conflict
has since its inception has only violated the rights of public. In the conflicts
of 1948, 1967 and 2020 has done nothing but caused hardships for the people.
Killings and injuries have only violated their rights and therefore is should be
taken into consideration by the human rights commission and proper verdict shall
be given by the international court of justice.
The International court of justice gave a verdict on the case and states that
more than 200 people died in the conflict and it was a grievous violation of
human rights. In the past judgments, the court has stated that the barriers that
Israel has put against the Palestinians is illegal and it should be stopped.
The following research paper concludes that it might not have been written in
legal terms, but it is true that people are the most important.
Their well-being, rights and health shall be protected at all costs. It is so
important that the world biggest international organization which is respected
and followed by all the countries of the world formed a special human rights
Human rights have been neglected for a lot of time and now finally
they have gained the stature that it deserves and is being treated in that way.
However, the roots are to be reached which is a little difficult but can be
achieved and more strict laws and regulations shall be made as per the demand of
the coming years and centuries. One thing is for sure, human rights is never
going to lose the importance it has gained over the years and people shall
always be given the utmost priority and their rights shall be saved at all
India as a country has become vigilant and has been following the norms
of human rights but amid the ongoing farmer protests, without taking sides of
which party is right or wrong it is important to not let to the rights of
humans unnoticed. There have been grieve violation of human rights which is in
itself another area of research. India surely has a long way to go to
attain human rights at its best.
Written By: Ashna Sharma,
- BA LLB (H)