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Promoting and Enforcing

Human Rights

Without protection, historically human rights have


developed throughout various campaigns to
achieve partial and scattered recognition, resulting
(finally) in formal declarations and binding
international treaties.
The effectiveness of their recognition depends on
the will of the community to implement them and
that the mechanisms are in place to ensure they are
respected, promoted and enforced.

Despite formal recognition at an international


level, the process has been gradual in securing
governments respect for human rights and
conformance with international treaties
The promotion and enforcement of human
rights commands a great deal of attention from
areas such as:
-UN and its branches
-International courts, tribunals and other authorities
-Inter-governmental organisations
-Non-governmental organisations
-media

State sovereignty
State sovereignty issues centre on the capacity of the
world to enforce other states compliance with
recognised human rights.
- The state is the basic unit of the international
system
- They are the only entities in international law
capable of exercising full political capacity
- Essential characteristics of a state include:

a defined territory
permanent population
effective government
capacity to enter into international relations

State sovereignty
A state must also be recognised by a sufficient number of
other states so it can exercise its full international political
and legal capacity.
The identification/determination of states can be
controversial eg:
Vatican City: recognised but observer status at the UN
Palestine, Somaliland recognised by a range of other
states but no official recognition
Taiwan: disputed status, not officially represented in UN
other than China but Taiwan continues to function as a
state, ratifying the ICCPO and ICESP in 2009
Disputed states have no access to the international human
rights framework (inc. the right to complain to UN Human
Rights Committee)

State sovereignty
State sovereignty refers to the ultimate law making
capacity of the state its independence and freedom
from external influence in its own affairs. Sovereignty
is the source of a states legal and political power to
make and enforce laws for its own population
It means States are considered equal (Art 2.1 UN
Charter) and should therefore be free from interference
Under international law, state sovereignty is limited
by certain duties owed to the international community
(such limitations are to avoid anarchy and prevent the
atrocious behaviour of states towards other states)

State sovereignty
State sovereignty becomes problematic as not all
states equally accept the idea that their own people
have certain rights. This can lead to a sliding scale
where robust democracies justify minor infringements
but in extreme cases states commit human rights
abuses with impunity with little/no avenue for citizens to
respond in these cases state sovereignty is used as a
shield to protect governments from outside interference
States are no longer in a vacuum and operate as part
of a wider international community
International agreements are (by nature) consensual
and do not infringe on state sovereignty but put
responsibility on the state to uphold their commitments