December 10th is celebrated as Human Rights Day globally. The day was adopted in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This year the day is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two international Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted by UN General Assembly on December 16,1966.
The objective of celebrating the day is to highlight the importance of human rights and motivate different institutions and governments to make measures to safeguard them.
Afghanistan is among one of the countries that need to play a tremendous role in the area of human rights because of the basic reason that there have been evident violations of human rights on Afghan soil and they have even continued after so much emphasis and efforts. Even today there are many example of clear violation of human rights throughout the country and they make the headlines in the national and international media, while there are many that go unrecorded. Looking at the plight of human rights in Afghan society, it is really important that the Afghan government must do something more than promises and commitments.
In the contemporary era when the world has been globalized and the politics has been internationalized, the theories and movements of rights have reached to all the corners of the world to provide the basic rights of the human beings. These endeavors try to facilitate human rights on the face of the barriers of economic and political incapacities and shortcomings of the national governments. These rights are basically monitored by the international bodies and work under the umbrella of United Nations Organizations. Though the international movements and organizations play their roles to make sure that all the human beings are given their rights, at the same time it is necessary for the human beings to have complete awareness about their rights so that they are not violated.
Though there have been both national and international endeavors to protect basic rights of human beings, still there are many human beings who suffer from the deprivation of their basic rights. Many governments in the world, like that of our country Afghanistan, still lack the basic democratic principles and the requirements of welfare state and therefore fail to provide the citizens their due rights. To be very specific about Afghanistan it can be said that a so-called democratic government has been installed, which has taken oath to provide the people their basic rights, yet there are millions who remain unattended.
The international concept of human rights can be best developed on the basis of the United Nations Charter and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Article 1 of the UDHR says, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Its preamble also emphasizes on the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. When UDHR was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, it was a non-biding resolution; however, today it has, to a certain extent, acquired the force of a customary law, which may be called upon by the national and other judiciaries. However, majority of the cases of the violation of human rights still go unattended because of the lack of a coercive and authoritative international body.
The United Nations Charter provides very strong commitments to the preservation of human rights and emphasizes that the member countries must follow them. The preamble of the charter reaffirms faith in fundamental human rights, in the equal rights of men and women, while the Article 1(3) of the charter says that one of the basic purposes of UN is “to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.” Most importantly, Article 56 of the charter says, “All members pledge themselves to take joint and separate action in cooperation with the Organization for the achievement of the purposes set forth in Article 55, which suggests for ‘(a) higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development; b) solutions of international economic, social, health, and related problems; c) international cultural and educational cooperation; d) universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion’.”
The objective for Afghan government to play a tremendous role can be what is set forth in Article 55 of United Nations Charter. To be very much realistic about Afghanistan, one can say that guidelines are many; the only missing factor is practical measure. There is a wide gap between the guidelines/commitments and actions, and this gap becomes wider once the intentions and honesty are doubted; and in case of Afghanistan the gap is wider.