LAW30470 International Human Rights Law UCD Assignment Example
This module provides an introduction to international human rights law, with a focus on the UN human rights system. It considers both the historical development of human rights law and current debates and challenges. The module will cover topics such as the nature of human rights; the UN human rights system; individual rights (civil and political rights, economic, social, and cultural rights); human rights and development; remedies for human rights violations.
International human rights law is a rapidly developing area of law, with new treaties and case law being developed all the time. This module will provide you with a basic understanding of the key concepts underpinning international human rights law, as well as an overview of the main institutions and mechanisms involved in the protection of human rights. You will gain an understanding of how human rights are protected at the international level, and be introduced to some of the key challenges and debates currently facing the field of international human rights law.
Assignment Activity 1: Explain the origin, justifications, sources, and scope of application of IHRL.
The origin of IHRL is traced back to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The Declaration sets out several fundamental rights and freedoms that all human beings are supposed to enjoy, regardless of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth, or another status.
Since then, there have been several other international treaties and conventions that have elaborated on these rights and extended their protection to more and more groups of people. The most important of these is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966.
The sources of IHRL are the international treaties and conventions that have been adopted by various international bodies, such as the UN General Assembly or the Council of Europe. These documents are binding on the countries that have ratified them, meaning that they must comply with their provisions.
The scope of application of IHRL is limited to those rights and freedoms set out in the international treaties and conventions. So, for example, the ICCPR only applies to civil and political rights, while the Convention on the Rights of the Child applies to a range of rights relating to children, such as the right to education, health care, and protection from abuse and neglect.
Assignment Activity 2: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the nature and scope of human rights and corresponding obligations under international law, including how these rights and obligations impact domestic law and practice.
Human rights are those fundamental rights and freedoms that all human beings are supposed to enjoy, regardless of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth, or another status.
The nature of human rights is that they are universal – that is, they apply to everyone in the world. They are also inalienable, meaning that they cannot be taken away from someone, and they are inherent, meaning that they exist independently of any government or other authority.
Human rights are protected under international law by several different institutions and mechanisms. The most important of these is the United Nations human rights system, which includes the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and several treaty bodies (such as the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination).
States have several obligations under international law relating to human rights. These include the obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights; the obligation to cooperate with other states in the promotion and protection of human rights; and the obligation to take action to prevent human rights violations.
States also have several domestic laws and policies that are designed to protect human rights. These include constitutions, human rights legislation, and national human rights institutions.
Assignment Activity 3: Understand and evaluate various international and domestic implementation mechanisms of IHRL (UN treaty bodies, UN Human Rights Council, domestic implementation mechanisms).
Several different institutions and mechanisms are responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights under international law. The most important of these is the United Nations human rights system, which includes the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and several treaty bodies (such as the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination).
The UN Human Rights Council is a body that was established in 2006 to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights. It is made up of 47 member states, which are elected by the UN General Assembly. The role of the Council is to promote and protect human rights around the world, and it has several important functions, including:
- Receiving reports from states on their human rights records
- Investigating human rights violations
- Issuing recommendations to states on how to improve their human rights records
- Providing a forum for dialogue on human rights issues
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is the principal human rights office of the United Nations. It was established in 1993, and its mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world. The OHCHR has several important functions, including:
- Monitoring human rights developments around the world
- Providing technical assistance to states on how to improve their human rights records
- Producing reports on human rights violations
- Acting as the secretariat for the UN Human Rights Council
Treaty bodies are a key part of the United Nations human rights system. There are several different treaty bodies, each of which is responsible for monitoring a particular treaty. The Human Rights Committee is responsible for monitoring the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is responsible for monitoring the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
Treaty bodies are made up of independent experts who are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. They review the reports that states submit on their human rights records, and they also conduct investigations into human rights violations. They issue recommendations to states on how to improve their human rights records, and they also provide a forum for dialogue on human rights issues.
Assignment Activity 4: Understand and evaluate substantive rights and corresponding obligations, including in light of contemporary challenges to IHRL.
The substantive rights set out in international human rights law are very important, and they provide a framework for the protection of human rights. These rights include the right to life, the right to freedom from torture, the right to freedom of expression, and the right to equality and non-discrimination.
States have several obligations concerning these rights, including the obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill them. They also must take steps to ensure that they are fulfilled in practice.
States face several challenges in fulfilling their human rights obligations, including:
- The challenge of implementing human rights in a way that is consistent with national laws and customs
- The challenge of protecting human rights in the face of terrorism and other security threats
- The challenge of ensuring equality and non-discrimination in a diverse world
- The challenge of protecting human rights in the context of humanitarian emergencies.
Assignment Activity 5: Relate and apply IHRL to real-life events and hypothetical fact situations.
The right to freedom of expression is a very important human right, and it is enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This right allows people to express their opinions freely, without fear of retribution.
However, the right to freedom of expression can be restricted in certain circumstances. For example, it can be restricted if it is used to incite violence or hatred.
Freedom of expression is often tested in real-life situations. In some cases, people are arrested or persecuted for expressing their opinions. In other cases, the right to freedom of expression is used to challenge oppressive regimes.
Hypothetical fact situation: You are a human rights activist in a country that is ruled by a repressive regime. You have been arrested and are being held in prison. You are being interrogated by the security forces, and they want to know why you are protesting against the regime. Can you be forced to answer their questions?
The right to freedom of expression protects people from being forced to answer questions that may incriminate them. Therefore, you cannot be forced to answer the questions of the security forces. However, you may be subject to other forms of punishment, such as imprisonment or torture.
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