Is human right possible?

Notions and principles of self-worth and dignity have been the touchstone of human progression. Principles of human rights were elucidated as a common heritage and inherent right of all peoples and nations when they were codified into a Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Subsequently numerous other covenants and laws have broadened the scope of human rights for the purposes of recognizing and upholding the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of all members of the human family on the foundation of freedom, justice and peace.

The various instruments of Human Rights had within it, advantages and pitfalls. To make human rights instruments contextual and effective, it became necessary for regional initiatives to formulate human rights principles such as that in Africa and Asia. They empowered peoples and nations to hold accountable respective governments and states on issues of human rights. However, exercising these rights became limited to government prerogative, thereby raising serious concerns of democratic participation and equal exercise of human rights by nations and peoples. 

While, the United Nations have reached a common understanding that “these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance,” the enjoyment of these rights remain illusive for many peoples. One drawback lies in the fact that the United Nations is not a union of nations but a union of states, and should more appropriately be termed United States. Nonetheless, since the United Nations is a union of states, its main objective lies in protecting the interest of its member states, even if it has meant marginalizing the rights of people. This ironic characteristic has been the primary obstacle in the realization of the inalienable rights for all members of the human family; subsequently the absence of a just peace.

Disregard for human rights is profoundly evident in situations of armed conflict, where gross violation of human rights by state and non-state actors is a perpetual feature. In such situations, human rights exist only in documents. This is made all the more compelling because States have often resorted to introducing legislations that legitimize violations of human rights. For a long time, governments got away with draconian legislations on grounds of domestic affairs. This seemed to have been changing with the shifting notions of sovereignty. However, with the advent of the supposed global war on terror, the scope and exercise of human rights values and principles have been most affected. 

The path towards human rights is at a cross-road. It will need more than just the United Nations to strengthen human rights. It requires the active participation of all nations and people; and on this day of International Human Rights, that Nagas must continue to work together to develop and nurture a culture of human rights that promotes freedom, human security and justpeace.