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UN Declaration of Human Rights (Article Sample)

this essay sought to answer the question "Is the UN Declaration of Human Rights more important in times of war or times of peace? Why or Why not?" source..
"Is the UN Declaration of Human Rights more important in times of war or times of peace? Why or Why not?" Introduction The experiences and lessons from the Second World War led to the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. This declaration outlines all the fundamental rights that every human has inherent entitlement. Following the atrocities committed against humans by Nazi Germans in the war, nations of the world agreed there was a need for an explicit declaration of human rights that were to be enjoyed without discrimination on race, religion or gender grounds CITATION Sus10 \l 2057 (Darraj, 2010). The rights to life, movement, association, and socio-economic and cultural practices are some of the entitlements enshrined in the UDHR. In its drafting and adoption, the Declaration sought to have governments commit to the upholding of all the outlined human rights. After inception, the UDHR has played a significant role in shaping national constitutions and legislations aimed at the protection of fundamental human rights. Though this declaration was made post World War II to address the challenges that arose in the war, its significance is far more deep-reaching as many years after its inception nations of the world continue to observe its provisions. The minds behind the declaration did not seek to end international disputes but to ensure that even in times of war, human rights were not violated by any nation. From this perspective, the declaration seems like a post-war remedy that only serves its intended purpose in times of war. Perception of the declaration from this angle places it in a closed context where its usefulness is not highlighted after the world war. Indeed, it would seem as though the declaration was made in anticipation of World War III. However, this paper argues that the UN Declaration of Human Rights is more important in times of peace than in war. Claims This section presents key arguments as to why the UN Declaration of human rights remains more important in times of peace over war times Adoption in customary laws The majority of the provisions of the UDHR have been adopted into customary law. In many national and international legislations, the UDHR is a standard reference. The UDHR is used as a binding standard on which these supplementary laws are derived. This acceptance of the declaration has gained significant ground to an extent that even countries that were against the declaration eventually agreed to the provisions. Further, countries such China and Argentina have been held accountable for actions perceived by the international community as against the human rights provisions of the declaration. As Drezner notes, "International institutions and international law only constrain democracies because of their adherence to the rule of law." (103).The declaration has provided and impeachable standard for human rights even in countries that do not share the ideals of the declaration. Further, unlike international treaties, states cannot repudiate the provisions of the resolution as part of international customary laws. Additionally, the UDHR has been the basis for several verdicts reached by judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against states and individual citizens. Human rights benchmark On a national front, the declaration provides a reliable reference for governance. National constitutions and legislations have heavily borrowed from the UDHR as they seek to safeguard the interests of their citizens. The activities of state and private entities are pegged and controlled by the human rights provisions. As such, it is possible for both the international community and private citizens to raise concern where there is a violation. United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) is the leading body in overseeing and seeking accountability for any actions that are in contravention of the UDHR. As Drezner notes, "The formation of more powerful activist groups—Zombie Rights Watch, Zombies without Borders, ZombAid, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Zombies—would undoubtedly make it difficult for the WZO to achieve perfect eradication" (96). The author’s statement highlights the important role that right protection groups play. It is reflective of the part of the UNHRC. Viewing the declaration as only necessary in times of war creates a leeway for the violation of fundamental human rights by governments, institutions and private citizens without fear of consequences from human rights bodies, the government or the international community. Accountability in international disputes Though on a reduced scale, war and conflicts are a common element of the modern world. According to Drezner, "Most international relations theories are state-centric, but interstate conflict is not all that significant a threat anymore." (175). Nations continue to engage in combat seeking to protect their interests and those of the world. The most prevalent cause of international disputes and war engagements in the modern world are terrorism and nuclear weapons. These engagements are never full-blown military actions as the international community has taken ample measures to avert actions war. Regardless of their justification, even these types of action need regulation. When troops are sent beyond their country’s borders, they are expected and must observe civilian human rights even when fighting against terror groups. Drezner highlights the statement, "Former Vice President Richard Cheney believed that extreme measures were warranted if there was even a 1 percent chance of a severe terrorist attack”(30). The vice president's position shows the severity of actions governments are willing to take in their fight against terror. In taking "extreme" measures, it is more likely than not for human rights to be ignored. This position is further validated when the author notes "A phobia of the living dead could lead to self-defeating policy responses in the same way that the fears of terrorist attacks led the post-9/11 U.S. military to torture prisoners at Abu Ghraib." (32). However, irrespective of the reason for engagement, human rights are given paramount importance through the provisions of the UN Declaration. Any action that contravenes the provision of the UDHR is met with equal action both on national and international fronts. Commonly, the international community hits the concerned nation with sanctions that adversely affect their social or economic freedoms. Refutation and concession Opponents of the UDHR may argue that it infringes on the sovereignty of a nation through the introduction of external legal control measures. The fact that all countries ar...
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