HUMAN SUFFERINGS, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND SCOPE OF THE UN JURISDICTION

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HUMAN SUFFERINGS, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND SCOPE OF THE UN JURISDICTION

Submitted by: Isha

  1. HUMAN SUFFERINGS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Human rights oriented and caused, human suffering is not only creative, but could be proved to be destructive of human potential. It is, in the best sense of that word, the imposition of secular social suffering. In this sense, unlike suffering legitimated by religious traditions through a cosmology,[1]secular human rights traditions bear only the hope of here and now human redemption. That venture at redemption, however, stands marked by many a boundary between necessary/unnecessary suffering,[2] sensitive to the problematic of cultural/professional appropriation of human suffering.[3]

1.2. DIFFERENTIATING BETWEEN MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY HUMAN RIGHTS

The distinction between “modern” and “contemporary” forms of human rights is focused on taking suffering seriously.[4] In the ‘modern’ human rights paradigm it was thought possible to take human rights seriously without taking human suffering seriously.[5] At the threshold of relating human rights to suffering, the analytic standpoint urges us to accord these forms of suffering an equal dignity of discourse that we extend to practices of the politics of cruelty and catastrophic practices of power.[6]Save when expedient, the statist human rights discourse in its enunciations of human rights fails to discuss discourse of human pain and social suffering. In contrast, people’s struggles against regimes practicing the politics of cruelty stand rooted in the direct experience of pain and suffering.[7]

1.3. UNDERSTANDING THE QUESTION OF DOMESTIC AND UN JURISDICTION Vis-à-vis HUMAN RIGHTS VOILATION

The extended events vis-à-vis emergence of Human Rights, commencing from the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 to Teheran Conference 1968 and the World Human Rights Conference in Vienna in 1993 have emanated certain makers that contoured a watershed in the movement. Most of the legal and the political systems have, in varying degrees, responded to the prerogatives of the first generation of the human rights by way of internalizing civil and political rights within their domestic jurisdiction, despite adverse reports of occasional infringements.[8] The reference points and standards have, however, been set and the countries are now judged by their degree of deviation from these standards.[9]

National jurisdictions over human rights are embarked under the guidance and encouragement of the UN machines at the fag-end of this century. The United States of America, which till the other day refrained itself from accepting international human rights instrumentalities like the ICCPR, 1966 has started accepting these global human rights obligations, while countries like Pakistan etc. keep themselves away from signing the human rights covenants of the UN, 1966.[10] In June 1993, World conference on human rights held in Vienna has emphatically urged upon all the member states of the UN to sign and ratify all the international human rights instrumentalities invariably

The municipal jurisdiction on human rights protection can’t emphasis on the medieval political theory of absolute sovereignty, as it is contracting more due to political devolution of powers or global mixed economy.

A significant UN human rights apparatus is the UN High Commission on Human Rights, which has been introduced in 1994. Some Asian Countries questioned the proposition for the establishment of the Human Rights Commissioner because of an inbuilt dread that their continuous human rights infringement would be brought under international jurisdiction, yet the global supposition persuaded this weak resistance. The office of the commissioner and its institutional accomplishments are yet to be inspected, as it has no record so far for evaluative purposes. The institution would thrive in the following century, considering the developing worldwide thrust coordinated at human rights standard setting. The course of action has several lists. Initially, the jurisdictions of the topic instruments and the human rights rapporteurs should not cover with the Commissioner’s jurisdiction. They must be complementary to one another. Furthermore, the commissioner needs to carve out its very own position by opening up exchanges with the administrations and planning all the human rights offices under the UN and somewhere else. Thirdly, human rights supervision is brought under UN Commissioner.

1.4. CONCLUDING REMARKS

The practices of protection and promotion of universal human rights entail the construction of moral or ethical hierarchies of suffering.[11] Such construction takes place when certain rights (such as civil and political rights) stand prioritized over other human rights (such as social, economic and cultural rights). It occurs when even the former set of the rights are subjected to the reason of the state (as when their suspension stands legitimated in ‘time of public emergency in the life of the nation’).[12]It occurs when solemn treaties prohibiting genocide and torture, cruel and degrading treatment of punishment allow scope for reservations and derogations that eat out the very heart of remedies otherwise declared available for the violated[13]. This makes human rights praxis at best global but not universal, with deep implications for the future of human rights.[14]

Unfortunately, it is Crucial for our present purposes that even human rights instruments, regimes and discursively consequently graft a hierarchy of continuous pain and suffering. The visions of future of human rights depend on our power not just to name an order of evils but in our ability to articulate a normative theory concerning the ethical unjustifiability of certain forms and formations of human suffering that the regime of radical evil incarnates.[15]


[1] Thomas Aquinas, The Literal Exposition on Job: A Scriptural Commentary Concerning Providence (1989)

[2] Maurice Glasman, Unnecessary Suffering: Managing Market Utopia (1996)

[3]  Arthur Kleinman and Joan Kleinman,’The Appeal of Experience; The Dismay of Images: Cultural Appropriations of Suffering in Our Times’, in Social Suffering (1997),25.

[4] Supra Note 11 at p. 34-35

[5]  Charles Taylor, ‘Conditions of Unforced Consensus on Human Rights’, in The East Asian Challenges for Human Rights (1999) at 124, 140-3.

[6] Upendra Baxi, “The future of Human Rights” 17  (Oxford University Press, New Delhi 2002)

[7] Ibid.

[8] Prof. N. Sanajaoba, “Human Rights in the Millennium”, 73 (Ed 2004)

[9] Ibid.

[10]  Id. at p 78.

[11]  Veena Das,  “Moral Orientations to Suffering’’, in Lincln C. Chen, Arthur Kleinman, and Norman C. Ware,(eds.) Health and social change in International Perspective 139 (Cambridge Mass; Harvard Series on Population and International Health,1994)

[12] Article 4, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 1996

[13] Upendra Baxi, “The future of Human Rights” 118  (Oxford University Press, New Delhi 2002)

[14] Ibid.

[15] Upendra Baxi, “The future of Human Rights” 18  (Oxford University Press, New Delhi 2002)

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