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in 1942, during World Wir II, when 26 allied nations expressed in the Declaration by United Nations their conviction-that "complete victory over their enemies is essential to defend life, liberty, independence, and religious freedom, and to preserve human rights and justice in their own land as well'as in other lands. "In so affirming, the pledging nations, whose number soon increased by 21, declared that they were "engaged in a common struggle against savage and brutal forces seeking to subjugate the world" - meaning the Axis powers by "enemies." This was the time in international political and social history1 that marked a distinct break from the earlier assumption that what a government did to its own people was its own business. The new perception, that the denial of human rights anywhere in the world was a matter of concern for all, emerged from the experiences of the period immediately following the World War II witnessing the horrors of the Holocaust and Nazi denials of basic human rights. That was when nations decided that promotion of human rights ought to be a principle purpose of the new United Nations Organisation. In the immediate post-World War II period, the United States was also giving human rights a high place in its foreign policy programmes and was conducting itself as a world leader in an effort to make human rights a hallmark of the United Nations. Analysts have expressed their skepticism regarding the real motive of the United States in making the protection of human rights of others as their foreign policy objective: they suspect that the new US enthusiasm for human rights might actually have been an attempt to deal with the post-1945 conflicts with the Soviet Union, which the US accomplished by placing itself on a morally elevated position in taking the conflict out of the context of a great power rivalry and putting in into the more sublime struggle between freedom and oppression. In any case, when the then-Secretary of State George C. Marshall spoke on the subject, a mix of idealism and realism was noteworthy. Systematic and deliberate denials of human rights lie at the root of most of our troubles and threaten the work of the United Nations. It is not onlyfuhdamentally wrong that millions of men and women live in daily terror of secret police, subject to seizure, imprisonment, or forced labour without fair trial, but these wrongs have repercussions in the community of nations. Governments which systematically disregard the rights of their own people are not likely to respect the rights of other nations and other people and are likely to seek their objectives by coercion and force n the international field.
During the 1948 session of the UN's General Assembly, Eleanor Roosevelt, the leading US leader of human rights and the US leader of human rights and the US spokesperson on human rights in the United Nation addressed the same theme. Her emphasis was on the "preservation of human freedom," a topic which she had "chosen to discuss in early days of the UN because the issue of human liberty is decisive for the settlement of outstanding political differences." Inspiration for the intensified human rights movement w as also derived from the "four freedoms" as stated by President Roosevelt. In his annual message to Congress on January 6, 1941, the president said that " ..in the future days, which we seek to make secure we look forward to a world grounded upon four essential human freedoms ... freedom of speech and expression... freedom of every person to worship God in his own way ... freedom from want ... and freedom from fear." These freedoms were given general endorsement in the Declaration by United Nations of January 1, 1942 and they thus became bases for the anti-Axis coalition during the War. The United Nations' concern for the protection of human' rights around the world may be regarded as one its chief points of difference from the earlier League of Nations. The latter, established 'following the carnage of World V/ar Ho .'prevent future • ..wars, had failed in its primary.purpose wuhin two decades' of its , formation as the world saw an even more horror some war. When the representatives of the allied nations met in San Francisco in 1945, close to the end the World War II to contemplate a global move from the League of Nations to the United Nation, they certainly did not want to repeat the foiled experience of the League" °f Nations. While the chief purpose of the new global organisation was still the maintenance of international peace and security, as in the case of the former one, the United Nations also envisaged a role" for itself of dealing with the problems of nonpolitical nature. With conviction based upon experience of the years immediately Preceding the war, the organisation with the primary purpose for mamtaining peace was given the responsibility for dealing with) economic and social problems also. Not unexpectedly, the Soviet Union did not approve of the idea; it saw little reason in global attempts at achieving international co-operation to maintain the ^•ability x)f an economic system the validity of which it refused to acccpt on ideological grounds. Nevertheless, the organisation's118 Emporium Current £ssavs *-ivaal» general purposes were accepted by all. It was realised, that there I exists a strong relationship between economic discontent and political instability, lending to the establishment of authoritarian regimes, and that states denying human rights to the their own citizens would not hesitate to practise aggression in foreign relations I as well. Thus the Charter of the United Nations assigned the
1 organisation a multipurpose role: achievement of international cooperation in dealing with economic and social problems, the promotion of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the economic, social, and political development of under developed territories was made a means to achieve the paramount purpose of the organisation, the maintenance of international peace and security. And since the Charter deems all these objectives as goals for which appropriate action by members and organs may be taken, the organisation has turned out in principle to be /)iie committed to the promotion of man's welfare and the fuller realisation of his potentialities. Though the UN Charter had not defined "fundamental human rights," it had provided thajt the UN promote "universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion" (article 55) ant! that "all Members pledges themselves to take joint and separate action, in co-operation with the Organisation for the achievement of the purposes set forth in Article 55" (article 56). Similarly, though the Charter had not established a specific international machinery for the enforcement of its human rights provisions, it ha<l, in creating the General Assembly, the Security Council, and the Economic and Social Council, organs of wide competence, provided for the establishment of an unlimited number of subsidiary bodies, including commissions,, in the field of human rights. These three principle organs of-the United Nations have from time to time used their powers to intervene in situations such as violations of political or religious freedom during the cold war period in eastern Europe, race conflict in South Africa, and issues like forced labour, infringement of trade union freedom, discrimination against women elsewhere in the world. Particularly note worthy has been the United Nations' contribution to the fight against colonialism in the post World War II period; it won the world body greatest recognition as a champion for the cause of human rights, thanks to a general tendency among governments to identify the struggle against colonial domination with struggle for human rights. In 1948, the UN defined the general human rights in the Declaration of Human Rights. According to this document, the scope of human rights ranges widely from the traditional political Emporium Current Essays 119 and civil rights and freedoms to economic, social, and cultural rights. The representatives from many diverse cultures endorsed the rights therein set forth "as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and a,!l nations." But while nation agreed readily -- by a vote of 48 to 0, with 8 abstentions and 2 members absent - great differences in cultural* philosophical, and legal views posed problems in getting them to agree to a treaty or treaties which would define these rights in legal language, impose upon the
parties the obligation to conform, and provide means and procedures by which respect would be assured. Similarly, the attempt to define human rights and fundamental freedoms proved difficult because of differences of cultural backgrounds, legal systems, ideology, and economic, social, and political coalitions. In 1976, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Internationa! Covenant on Civil and Political Rights entered into force and effect, but, prior to that, there was a strong disagreement with regard to the scope of application as well as implementation of the proposed covenants. The same disagreements also explain the slow ratifications by states of the covenants. And achieving compliance with the human rights standards set forth in the deceleration and conventions has presented even greater difficulties; lacking agreement on what the obligations of members are, it has not been infrequent to see as state wtiose compliance is in question deny any obligation or refuse to recognise it When conventions define S|)ccifically the obligations of states that ratify, but even in these cases, States arc reluctant on grounds of sovereignty and or fear of unfavourable consequences to accept procedures that go beyond negotiation and conciliation. Thus the problem to achieve a greater degree of international co-operation irt promoting human rights among and within the member states remains. Since the general obligations of the Charger itself and subsidiary commitments which may be accepted, constitute the only restrictions on the member states, and since the UN acts through its members and has no direct way of assuring rights and freedoms to individual citizens. The organisation has a record of substantial success in its efforts to establish standards to guide states in matters of human rights. The UN effort has certainly a significant influence on the development of standards that states are not only expected to treat as goals but also as legal commitment -- by virtue of UN declarations and by international agreements ~ to be respected. The objective of the United Nations to protect human rights globally has its success and failures.
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