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The Role of Non-state Actors in the Implementation and Monitoring of Human Rights Essay

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Introduction

Human rights are the freedoms which all human beings are universally entitled to. Many human right activists assert that each and every human being is entitled to certain rights and freedoms just by the fact that they are humans. A right in its strict sense has the nature of a claim.

This means that despite the presence of such elements as power, liberty, or immunity, the element of claim must also be present in the definition of a right. It is important to note that human rights in the contemporary world are universal in some sense (Messer 1993).

Thus, they are accepted all over the world at least in word or ideal standards. All states regularly proclaim their acceptance of and adherence to internationally recognized standards of human rights norms, and charges of human rights violations are among the strongest complaints that can be made in any international relation.

It is also important to note that more than three quarters of the world’s states have subscribed to international legal obligations to become members of the international human rights covenants. The other nations have expressed some kinds of approval of and commitment to their content (Donnelly 2003).

Since human rights are the rights and freedoms that one has simply because they are human, the reasons as to why human beings need rights must be addressed. Questions like what is to be involved when having a right to something and how the rights work are pretty important in this case.

There is a close relationship between humans and their rights. Therefore, philosophical foundations of substantive theories of human rights are equally important in defining the rights of an individual.

Human rights proponents have come up with strict measures to ensure that states and organizations adhere to the stipulated rules that govern human rights enhancement. There are both large and small human rights watchdogs that check the operations of states and other organizations against any form of human rights violations.

The most efficient human rights watchdogs are globalized institutions that operate worldwide. As a matter of fact, these are the main organizations that check against large scale human rights violations by states, large organizations, and people who have a large influence of power (Pollis & Schwab 2000).

Justifications of human rights

There is a reason why people should understand what human rights is and who holds the rights, hence the question; why do human rights holders hold human rights?

There must therefore be sufficient reasons that we should come up with in order to show that those who we think hold human rights (all of us), do in fact hold them. Hence, a justification of human rights is inevitable.

Justifying a moral or political claim like human rights is quite different from justifying a scientific proposal or a mathematical theory or even logic.

Scientific theories are justified by subjecting tem to rigorous tests until sufficient similarities in the experimental results force any reasonable observer to concede that the hypothesis is actually borne out (Orend 2002).

The scientific hypotheses must therefore describe the way the world really is through the justification of those kinds of hypotheses. Mathematics and logical theories prove a claim by a series of proof procedures. These procedures must use a number system in order to derive functions that will result to the proof of that particular hypothesis.

For instance, many community-based, national and international based human rights watch groups that are engaged in fighting for human rights must justify their cases in any instance that they report. Amnesty international is an international watch dog that engages in such activities.

There are currently many human violation activities that are being perpetrated in the southern Sudan, Darfur region. Amnesty international is currently collecting all the information necessary to justify this.

This is because there has been a lot of human rights violation before and even after the country’s referendum on the independence of the southern democracy. It has been reported that the violations are being perpetrated by the government coupled by armed groups.

One thing worth noting is that the atrocities are being perpetrated by both sides. In the recent past, civilians have been attacked by armed militiamen. Humanitarian convoys have also been attacked by armed militia groups. Women have been raped and children have been mistreated to the advantage of the militia.

This has particularly been happening in Darfur (Amnesty International 2011). Justification is important because it makes the cases viable for prosecution and perpetration of justice. This is a perfect example of how non governmental organizations are involved in the process of human rights implementation and monitoring.

Monitoring here refers to the sense that the organization is collecting evidence of human rights violations and the perpetrators, in order to prosecute them later. Implementation here refers to the sense that when the perpetrators are finally prosecutes, human rights implementation will finally take root.

Justification is therefore a paramount aspect in monitoring and implementing human rights. Thus, for any non governmental human rights organization to succeed in its pursuit, it must have viable justification that a human rights violation has occurred somewhere and that the situation can be dealt with in a court of law and succeed.

It is important to note that ethics and politics do not need the same kind of rigorous proof standards that mathematics and science demand. It is therefore not expected to prove claim with absolute certainty in ethics and politics like in mathematics and science. Politics and ethics base their arguments on matters of truth and falsehood.

It is also a matter of being better supported and more acceptable, versus being more poorly supported, and more objectionable.

For this reason, ethics and politics are actually like science because they search for the most compelling and useful understanding. Ethics and politics also search for the most adequately supported claim given current information (Kuik et al. 1994).

A good justification of a human right must therefore rest on some basic set of premises and principles which are themselves not argued for. Thus there must be some aspects of conception of human nature that aid in the justification of human rights (Moller et al. 2009).

Good justifications also have to start from plausible initial premises and principles on which it finally rests. They must also arrive at plausible conclusions using a consistent and compelling chain of reasoning.

It is also important to include the aspect of pluralism in any justification process of human rights. This is because the aspect of pluralism is often a hallmark of philosophical treatments of human rights to search for chains of justifications.

Implementation of human rights

Implementation of human rights is achieved through transparency and accountability. Apparently, transparency and accountability are achieved through monitoring and evaluation.

Various human rights international and local organizations have come up with strategies that aid in the implementation of human rights laws and monitoring and evaluation of the standards.

As a matter of fact, monitoring and evaluation are the key factors that determine the accountability of organizations in tackling the human rights issues in any situation. This is one of the reasons that have caused these organizations to come up with different levels of monitoring systems.

Community based and civil society monitoring

These kinds of monitoring systems are those that have been initiated by civil society organizations. Most of these civil organizations engage in exercises that aim at empowering people who are excluded and marginalized. The organizations also provide data on policy implementation at the community levels.

Most of the mechanisms used in such organizations are participatory methods (Bejarano 2002). Participatory methods actually help the people to monitor for themselves any human rights abuse issues.

This strengthens social accountability and expands the range of reporting thereby helping in building the level of responsiveness in dealing with human rights abuses.

Community based and civil society groups can also provide invaluable information to the national monitoring system. They can therefore act as subsidiary branches of the national or international umbrella body of human rights watch dog.

National monitoring and statistic collection

National bodies that deal with human rights issues have a larger sphere of influence than the community based civil organizations. The national level of monitoring monitors systems that operate at the national levels.

They include national political issues, national health matters, and quasi independent government departments. The national system therefore collects data from a variety of sources and processes and analyses the credibility of the data.

This is then relayed to the relevant authorities who will then deal with the issue depending on the nature of the situation. Thus, if the situation is beyond the national levels, a relevant international human watch dog can be given the mandate to deal with the issue (Jacobsen 2008).

International monitoring

International bodies such as the International Criminal Court and the UNESCO usually work together in order to ensure the enforcement of laws against crimes committed on human beings and to provide basic rights to education and cultural diversity respectively. Such organizations have a larger mandate than the national watch dogs.

They deal with more sensitive issues that include political situations. Most of these issues affect international relations. Therefore, these organizations engage in implementation of human rights on both national and international levels.

It is important to understand that implementation of human rights accepted in international treaties is basically a national concern. It is also worth noting that this is natural for those states with a dualistic constitutional system.

The provisions of such treaties must therefore be converted into internal law before they can have any legal meaning in the internal legal system of the country. The implementation also affects those countries with monist constitutional systems.

This means that the implementation of human rights legislation is actually a matter of national legislation and policy. However, this has been overcome by developing mechanisms on an international level to make sure that countries comply with their obligations.

This step has made the implementation of the human laws legislation to be of an international matter and hence a success to the international human rights watch dog (UNEP 2006).

Forms of implementation, monitoring and enforcement

Monitoring is a form of implementation in which the actions of certain agents are evaluated against the background of their human rights obligations. It is important to note that monitoring can take place at various levels that include national, supranational and interstate levels.

Monitoring can focus on the actions of different actors such as the state apparatus, the individual, or an international organization.

Monitoring of the human rights violations can use multiple strategies which may range from political, diplomatic and military, to even legal means. Accountability is also very important during the process of monitoring the injustices done to human beings.

After the monitoring process, enforcement must be done. As a matter of fact, enforcement is the reason why human rights watchdogs engage in monitoring practices.

The monitoring mechanism must amount to an actual legal remedy. Enforcement is necessary for any organization to achieve a level of competency in receiving complaints about violations of the human rights by anyone.

Thus, the organizations involved in the act of human rights violation issues must give redress by cancelling or rectifying the violating act of regulation. They can also do this by awarding compensation for damage to the humans’ dignity.

It is therefore relevant to examine the enforcement of human rights laws since enforcement is actually a mechanism of efficiently implementing law. This is also the reason why accountability with human rights law must be enforced as strongly as possible.

For instance, the underlying philosophy of establishing an international criminal court was to make individuals accountable for the human rights violation committed. An effective remedy is therefore important after a human rights violation incident because it gives a feeling of justice better than a mere political comment or moral condemnation.

Remedial measures must occur after any report of human rights violation because there is no right without remedy. It is much important to enforce the human rights law because it helps in the establishment of the status that is to be attributed to a norm.

The norm in question could be considered as a right as long as there is a legal remedy available to an individual. Remedial measures must go hand in hand with enforceability of the rights because this is important and it acts as a way of providing justice to the victims of human rights violations.

Among the large numbers of bodies that have jurisdiction over human rights instruments, the ICESCR is the primary mechanism that is engaged in enforcing international and regional human instruments.

The monitoring system of ICESCR consists of a reporting system that is based on a dialogue between the state party and the committee on economic, social and cultural rights. This committee usually prepares a list of questions for a dialogue between the committee and the government delegation.

It concludes the observations that will be used or adopted by the committee itself. It is important to note that the committee has been credited for having implemented labor laws. This is because the committee has been dealing with labor standards by addressing diverse issues that are related to labor laws.

Such issues include equal remuneration for equal work and employment opportunities, non discrimination of foreign employers and employees, child labor (Sen et al. 2008).

The role of UNESCO in human rights implementation

The United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is an arm of the UN that deals with several issues related to human rights. The organization has been given the mandate to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.

UNESCO has been actively involved in the elaboration of the universal declaration of human rights and has also assisted in drafting the two international covenants that provide the foundations for all human rights jurisprudence.

One of the roles of UNESCO in enhancing the human rights laws is in standard setting. Again, one of the most controversial issues concerning human rights laws is the protection and promotion of diversity of cultural expression. This concept was adopted by the general conference at its 33rd session in 2005.

These conventions generally “address the right to education, the protection of moral and material interests resulting from scientific, literary or artistic production and the right to participate in cultural life and to protect the diversity of culture and world heritage” (UNEP 2006).

In line with all these responsibilities, UNESCO has conducted research that seeks to clarify the role of these rights. The research also seeks to look for ways in which the organization will find it easier to enforce various laws and to suggest the methods of implementations.

UNESCO has also put in place certain monitoring mechanisms that are based on state reporting procedures. These procedures are actually established in Article 4(6) and Article 8 of the UNESCO constitution. The UN member states actually adhere to these rules by trying to address the reporting burden on state parties.

There are also a number of conventions that UNESCO is trying to examine for reforms. The reforms are mainly related to the report mechanisms and the decisions will actually consider similar efforts being made in Geneva and the UN member countries (UNEP 2006).

The communication procedure of UNESCO has been acting as the main mechanism for the protection of human rights. The procedures were established and adopted in 1978 to provide for the examination of cases and questions submitted to UNESCO by individual petitions in circumstances that involve violations of human rights.

Although this happens to affect the entire world, it is still important to note that the mechanisms only take place within the organization’s sphere of influence (Resolution adopted by the General Assembly 55/2. 2000). This is one of the reasons why the communication procedure is extremely confidential.

The director general has also been given the mandate to personally undertake humanitarian representations for individuals who have reportedly been victimize on human rights grounds. The director general therefore, also acts within the sphere of influence of the UNESCO.

In addition, there is a committee that is vested with powers to undertake various tasks that relate with various conventions and recommendations in human rights implementation within UNESCO. This committee is mostly concerned with confidential complaints procedure.

It also deals with all issues that are concerned with implementation of UNESCO’s standard setting instruments. The committee also oversees the confidential UNESCO’s procedures that handle complaints of victimized persons who have experienced some sort of human rights violations.

Again, it is important to note that this committer works within the sphere of influence of UNESCO. This means that it deals with questions involving education, scientific and cultural issues.

It is worth noting that monitoring mechanisms among the international human rights watch dogs are synonymous because they have been synchronized in order to work towards the same goal – alleviating human rights violations.

The mechanisms usually take on different forms depending on the nature of the subject matter, the obligations involved and the purpose served. These are the three factors that affect the choice of an efficient monitoring system.

In UNESCO, the supervisory function of monitoring depends largely on the extent of specificity of state obligations and the presence of an arm of the organization that is competent enough to receive monitoring data. Also, this arm is responsible for reviewing treaty implementations.

The monitoring unit of this organization is usually careful of sensitive or political issues because such issues may raise international tension (Das 2003).

That is why most of these issues are treated very confidentially. These organizations also engage in inspection and verification processes that ensure correct reporting, correct monitoring mechanisms and appropriate legal enforcements.

The issue of national and international relay of information therefore comes in handy in this scenario because information is what initiates the whole process of investigating a human rights abuse situation.

Case study in Burma

A good case study is in the fight for human rights by a group of exiled Burmese activists. This group of activists have been engaged in documenting the ongoing human rights violations that is been perpetrated by the dictatorial Burmese military rule.

Benetech human rights program has partnered with some of these groups to form a network for human rights documentation in Burma. Most of the human rights abuse in Burma is perpetrated by Burmese officials by way of killings and rape.

Other forms in which human rights violations have been perpetrated by the Burmese officials include political imprisonment and forced relocation. Cases of extortion of businesses and individuals for political mileage have also been reported among the government officials.

This group has devised creative ways in which it collects and preserves testimony from the citizens of the country (Martus 2009). The testimonies are documented for future references so that they can be used in the process of prosecution of the perpetrators.

There have been many reports concerning this issue in Burma. The United Nations, amnesty international, human rights watch and other groups have been seriously involved in this drive to human rights freedoms.

The main reason why it has been hard to avert this issue swiftly is because the broadcast media are more closely controlled by the groups that are perpetrating the violence. This is why the International radio stations such as voice of America, the BBC Corporation, the Democratic Voice of Burma, and Radio Free Asia have been able to come in.

The UN, and other civil rights watch are still finding it hard to accuse the perpetrators because most of them still hold powerful positions and some of them are on the run.

However, through these organizations, the evidence of human rights are being collected and documented so that it will be easier to prosecute those perpetrators (Burma Campaign UK, 2011).the above example shows a desperate effort by international human rights watch in trying to avert the crises over the world.

There are still many unreported cases of human rights violations. It is therefore imperative for civil rights groups, local, national and international watch dogs to report all these cases and to liaison with each other in order to create a synergy that will crush the culture of impunity.

This is also a perfect scenario in which various non governmental organizations including international media are involved in monitoring and implementation of human rights. Thus, the UN, the Amnesty International, International media and the Red Cross Society are the non governmental organizations involved in this exercise.

Therefore human rights monitoring and implementation is done perfectly by the non governmental organizations since they are independent from powerful political influential forces. They are able to achieve their independence by their structural framework within the organizations.

They are organized in such a way that they can tackle sensitive issues according to international standards with minimum external influence.

In the Burma situation, the sub committees of the organizations involved in the human rights watch exercise and the supervisory functions will liaison with the recommendations committee to monitor, prosecute perpetrators, and implement human rights in the country.

Conclusion

Human rights are the freedoms which all human beings are universally entitled to. Many human right activists assert that each and every human being is entitled to certain rights and freedoms just by the fact that they are humans. A right in its strict sense has the nature of a claim.

Human rights proponents have come up with strict measures to ensure that states and organizations adhere to the stipulated rules that govern human rights enhancement. A good justification of a human right must rest on some basic set of premises and principles which are themselves not argued for.

Thus there must be some aspects of conception of human nature that aid in the justification of human rights. Implementation of human rights is achieved through transparency and accountability.

International bodies such as the International Criminal Court and the UNESCO usually work together in order to ensure the enforcement of laws against crimes committed on human beings and to provide basic rights to education and cultural diversity respectively.

The United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is one arm of the UN that deals with several issues related to human rights. The organization has been given the mandate to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Reference List

Amnesty International., 2011. . Web.

Bejarano, C., 2002. Las Super Madres De Latino America: Transforming Motherhood by Challenging Violence in Mexico, Argentina, and El Salvador. Frontiers –‐ A Journal of Women’s Studies, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 126–‐149.

., 2011. For Human Rights, Democracy & Development in Burma. Web.

Das, V., 2003. Trauma and Testimony: implications for political community. Anthropological Theory, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 293-307.

Donnelly, J., 2003, Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice. New York: Cornell University Press.

Jacobsen, A., 2008, Human Rights Monitoring: A Field Mission Manual. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.

Kuik et al., 1994, Joint Implementation to Curb Climate Change: Legal and Economic Aspects. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Martus., 2009. The Global Social Justice Monitoring System. Case Studies. Web.

Messer, E., 1993. Anthropology and Human Rights. Annual Review of Anthropology.

Moller et al., 2009, International Human Rights Monitoring Mechanisms: Essays in Honor of Jacob Th. Moller. Ed. 2. Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV.

Orend, B., 2002, Human Rights: Concept and Context. Ormskirk: Plymbridge.

Pollis, A., & Schwab, P., 2000, Human Rights: New Perspectives, New Realities. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc.

Resolution adopted by the General Assembly 55/2. 2000, United Nations Millennium Declaration. Web.

Sen et al., 2008, Human Rights in the Commonwealth: A Status Report. London: Commonwealth Secretariat.

UNEP., 2006, Training Manual on International Environmental Law. London: Earth print Limited.

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