The meaning of article 2: Implementation of human rights
All over the world extensive programmes are now taking place to educate people onhuman rights. As a result today there exists a vast number of persons and organisationsfirmly committed to human rights; more than at any other time in the history of humankind. Yet human rights continue to be monstrously violated.It is time for the global human rights movement to examine why it may not yet beachieving real improvement in the global human rights situation. One factor hinderinghonest examination is the belief that improvement of knowledge about human rights willby itself end human rights violations. This is a myth based on the corresponding belief that education is itself capable of improving things.In reality human rights can only be implemented through a system of justice. If thissystem is fundamentally flawed, no amount of knowledge—no amount of repetition of human rights concepts—will by itself correct its defects. Rather, these need to be studiedand corrected by practical actions. Hence research and intimate knowledge of local issuesmust become an integral part of human rights education and related work.
aims to do this by drawing attention to article 2 of the International Covenanton Civil and Political Rights, and make it a key concern of all partners in the global humanrights community. This integral article deals with provision of adequate remedies for humanrights violations by legislative, administrative and judicial means. It reads in part:
3. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes:(a) To ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms as herein recognized are violated shall have aneffective remedy, notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in anofficial capacity;(b) To ensure that any person claiming such a remedy shall have his right thereto determined by competent judicial, administrative or legislative authorities, or by any other competent authority pro-vided for by the legal system of the State, and to develop the possibilities of judicial remedy;(c) To ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce such remedies when granted.
Sadly, article 2 is much neglected. One reason for this is that in the ‘developed world’the existence of basically functioning judicial systems is taken for granted. Persons fromthose countries may be unable to grasp what it means to live in a society where ‘institutionsof justice’ are in fact instruments to deny justice. And as these persons guide the globalhuman rights movement, vital problems do not receive necessary attention. For people inmany countries, international human rights discourse then loses relevance.Other difficulties also arise with article 2. One is the fear to meddle in the ‘internalaffairs’ of sovereign countries. Governments are creating more and more many obstacles forthose trying to go deep down to learn about the roots of problems. Thus, inadequateknowledge of actual situations may follow. A further and quite recent disturbance is theportrayal of national human rights institutions and their equivalents as surrogate agenciesfor dealing with article 2 related issues. Some state parties may agree to new nationalhuman rights institutions taking on this role because they know that by doing so they may avoid criticisms of a more fundamental nature.Thus after many years of work, the Asian Legal Resource Centre began publishing
to draw attention to this vital provision in international law, and to raise awarenessof the need to implement human rights standards and provide effective remedies at thelocal level in Asia.Relevant submissions by interested persons and organizations are welcome.