Sei sulla pagina 1di 8

[STUDY GUIDE] UNHRC

Committee background: The Human Rights Council is an inter-government body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of Human Rights around the globe and for addressing situations of Human Rights violations and make recommendations on them. It has the ability to discuss all situations that require attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN office at Geneva. The council is made up of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly. The Human Rights Council replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

TOPIC: Violation of basic human rights in times of civil unrest in conflict zones.
Introduction Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are considered entitled: the right to life, liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equal treatment before the law, among others. These rights represent entitlements of the individual or groups vis-a-vis the government, as well as responsibilities of the individual and the government authorities. Such rights are ascribed "naturally," which means that they are not earned and cannot be denied on the basis of race, creed, ethnicity or gender. These rights are often advanced as legal rights and protected by the rule of law. However, they are distinct from and prior to law, and can be used as standards for formulating or criticizing both local and international law. It is typically thought that the conduct of governments and military forces must comply with these standards. Various "basic" rights that cannot be violated under any circumstances are set forth in international human rights documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The rights established by these documents include economic, social, cultural, political and civil rights. While human rights are not always interpreted similarly across societies, these norms nonetheless form a common human rights vocabulary in which the claims of various cultures can be articulated. The widespread ratification of international human rights agreements such as those listed above is taken as evidence that these are widely shared values. Having human rights norms in place imposes certain requirements on governments and legitimizes the complaints of individuals in those cases where fundamental rights and freedoms are not respected. Such norms constitute a standard for the conduct of government and the administration of force. They can be used as "universal, non-discriminatory standards" for formulating or criticizing law and act as guidelines on proper conduct. Many conflicts are sparked by a failure to protect human rights, and the trauma that results from severe human rights violations often leads to new human rights violations. As conflict intensifies, hatred accumulates and makes restoration of peace more difficult. In order to stop this cycle of violence, states must institute policies aimed at human rights protection. Many believe that the protection of human rights "is essential to the sustainable achievement of the three agreed global priorities of peace, development and democracy." Respect for human rights has therefore become an integral part of

GraMUN II Lahore Grammar School, Fsd.

[STUDY GUIDE] UNHRC


international law and foreign policy. The specific goal of expanding such rights is to "increase safeguards

for the dignity of the person.


Despite what resembles a widespread consensus on the importance of human rights and the expansion of international treaties on such matters, the protection of human rights still often leaves much to be desired. Although international organizations have been created or utilized to embody these values, there is little to enforce the commitments states have made to human rights. Military intervention is a rare occurrence. Sanctions have a spotty track record of effectiveness. Although not to be dismissed as insignificant, often the only consequence for failing to protect human rights is, naming and shaming.

Fundamental Human Rights Fundamental rights are a generally regarded set of legal protections in the context of a legal system, wherein such system is itself based upon this same set of basic, fundamental, or inalienable rights. Such rights thus belong without presumption or cost of privilege to all human beings under such jurisdiction. The concept of human rights has been promoted as a legal concept in large part owing to the idea that human beings have such "fundamental" rights, such that transcend all jurisdiction, but are typically reinforced in different ways and with different emphasis within different legal systems. Some universally recognized rights as fundamental, i.e., contained in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, or the U.N. Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, include the following: Right to self-determination. Right to liberty. Right to due process of law. Right to freedom of movement. Right to freedom of thought. Right to freedom of religion. Right to freedom of expression. Right to peacefully assemble. Right to freedom of association. Right to marry.

Though many fundamental rights are also widely considered human rights, the classification of a right as fundamental invokes specific legal tests courts use to determine the constrained conditions under which the United States government and various state governments may limit these rights. In such legal contexts, courts determine whether rights are fundamental by examining the historical foundations of those rights, and determining whether their protection is part of a longstanding tradition. Individual states may guarantee other rights as fundamental.

GraMUN II Lahore Grammar School, Fsd.

[STUDY GUIDE] UNHRC


Civil Unrest:

Civil unrest is the result of groups or individuals within the population feeling, rightly or wrongly, that their needs or rights are not being met, either by the society at large, a segment thereof, or the current overriding political system. When this results in community disruption of a nature where intervention is required to maintain public safety it has become a civil disturbance. Civil disturbance spans a wide variety of actions and includes, but is not limited to: labor unrest; strikes; civil disobedience; demonstrations; riots; prison riots; or rebellion leading to revolution. Triggers could include: racial tension; religious conflict; unemployment; a decrease in normally accepted services or goods, such as extreme water, food, or gasoline rationing; or unpopular political actions such as the Vietnam War. Civil disturbance can, in extreme cases, cause extensive social disruption, loss of jobs, death, and property damage. These may result either from those involved in the action or initiated by those in higher authority in response to what they perceive as a threat to either the status quo or their own authority. In addition, the government may also curtail certain civil liberties even to the eventual imposition of martial law. Looting and general vandalism are the most common activities associated with civil disturbance. Fire setting is also quite common and can quickly spread due to slow response times of overwhelmed fire departments. Transportation routes can become blocked making it difficult for non-rioters to leave the area and difficult for the emergency response personnel to arrive. In general, the basic human rights summarized above maybe subject to their succumbing and failure of governments or legal frameworks to provide the nations with these rights. (Delegates will be required to brief on how these and other basic human rights are violated in times of civil unrest).

Intervention to Protect Human Rights To protect human rights is to ensure that people receive some degree of decent, humane treatment. Because political systems that protect human rights are thought to reduce the threat of world conflict, all nations have a stake in promoting worldwide respect for human rights. International human rights law, humanitarian intervention law and refugee law all protect the right to life and physical integrity and attempt to limit the unrestrained power of the state. These laws aim to preserve humanity and protect against anything that challenges people's health, economic well-being, social stability and political peace. Underlying such laws is the principle of nondiscrimination, the notion that rights apply universally. Responsibility to protect human rights resides first and foremost with the states themselves. However, in many cases public authorities and government officials institute policies that violate basic human rights. Such abuses of power by political leaders and state authorities have devastating effects, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. What can be done to safeguard human rights when

GraMUN II Lahore Grammar School, Fsd.

[STUDY GUIDE] UNHRC


those in power are responsible for human rights violations? Can outside forces intervene in order to protect human rights?

Humanitarian Intervention: In some cases, the perceived need to protect human rights and maintain peace has led to humanitarian intervention. There is evidence that internationally we are moving towards the notion that governments have not only a negative duty to respect human rights, but also a positive duty to safeguard these rights, preserve life and protect people from having their rights violated by others. Many believe that states' duties to intervene should not be determined by proximity, but rather by the severity of the crisis. There are two kinds of humanitarian intervention involving the military: unilateral interventions by a single state, and collective interventions by a group of states. Because relatively few states have sufficient force and capacity to intervene on their own, most modern interventions are collective. Some also argue that there is a normative consensus that multilateral intervention is the only acceptable form at present. Restoring Human Rights in the Peace Building Phase: In the aftermath of conflict, violence and suspicion often persist. Government institutions and the judiciary, which bear the main responsibility for the observation of human rights, are often severely weakened by the conflict or complicit in it. Yet, a general improvement in the human rights situation is essential for rehabilitation of war-torn societies. Many argue that healing the psychological scars caused by atrocities and reconciliation at the community level cannot take place if the truth about past crimes is not revealed and if human rights are not protected. To preserve political stability, human rights implementation must be managed effectively. Issues of mistrust and betrayal must be addressed, and the rule of law must be restored. In such an environment, the international community can often play an important supporting role in providing at least implicit guarantees that former opponents will not abandon the peace. Because all international norms are subject to cultural interpretation, external agents that assist in the restoration of human rights in post-conflict societies must be careful to find local terms with which to express human rights norms. While human rights are in theory universal, ideas about which basic needs should be guaranteed vary according to cultural, political, economic and religious circumstances. Consequently, policies to promote and protect human rights must be culturally adapted to avoid distrust and perceptions of intrusion into internal affairs. To promote human rights standards in post-conflict societies, many psychological issues must be addressed. Societies must either introduce new social norms or reestablish old moral standards. They must design programs that will both address past injustice and prevent future human rights violations. Human rights must not become just another compartmentalized aspect of recovery, but must be infused throughout all peacebuilding and reconstruction activities. Democratization implies the restoration of political and social rights. Government officials and members of security and police forces have to be trained to observe basic rights in the execution of their duties. Finally, being able to forgive past violations is central to society's reconciliation. Internally Displaced Persons There are large numbers of internally displaced persons in at least thirty countries around the world. Sometimes they are joined by refugees who have fled from their own country-as in Sudan where there

GraMUN II Lahore Grammar School, Fsd.

[STUDY GUIDE] UNHRC


are Ethiopian, Eritrean, Ugandan and other refugees. Neither is the problem of internally displaced persons a new problem. Indeed, internally displaced persons have existed since states have existed. Nevertheless, it is just recently that internally displaced persons have been recognized as needing special protection above and beyond other citizens of a country. Wherever one looks, some basic human rights reoccur and are particularly relevant to internally displaced persons. These are rights those that have been agreed to by almost all the countries of the world for more than fifty years. They include the rights to housing, food, clean water, clothing, children's education, adequate health care and the right to freedom of residence and movement, and perhaps of central importance to the achievement of all these rights the right to participate in the governance of one's country.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Article 5of The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights.
When the number of IDPs began to soar in the post-Cold War period as a result of rising numbers of internal conflicts in the early 1990s, the international community determined that it was essential to devise international standards to protect IDPs. A complex document known as Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement was developed at the initiative of The United Nations Commission on Human Rights and was subsequently adopted by the Commission in 1998. The document lists 30 different principles that seek to provide rights to IDPs and guarantee their protection in various phases of displacement, such as protection against displacement, protection and assistance during displacement, and during return or internal resettlement and reintegration. Finally it also outlines the obligations of state and non-state actors towards the IDPs. The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement has become the basis of IDP safety and rights since its formulation in 1998. It has not only increased awareness about the plight of IDPs around the world but has also encouraged countries to devise national rules, regulations and policies to protect the Internally Displaced Persons. States are responsible for providing protection and general welfare to their citizens and all those under their jurisdiction. They are supposed to adopt required legislations and ensure their effective implementation. However, in countries experiencing tensions among various groups with differentiated identities vis--vis race, ethnicity, religion and language, citizenship does not necessarily guarantee an individual the protection of the state. These displaced persons are thus forced to live at the mercy of the state, which may or may not allow the access to protection and assistance. Definition

IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) working definition is recent, considering that the issue of Internally Displaced Persons was linked before to that of Refugees.
Definition according to the Analytical Report of the Secretary-General (1992) on Internally Displaced Persons : Persons who have been forced to flee their homes suddenly or unexpectedly in large numbers, as a result of armed conflict, internal strife, systematic violations of human rights or natural or made-man disasters; and who are within the territory of their own country.

GraMUN II Lahore Grammar School, Fsd.

[STUDY GUIDE] UNHRC

Definition according to the new Guiding Principle (1998) : Persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized state border. The 1998 definition, as seen, vastly improves the 1992 definition, particularly because it drops problematic language such as "suddenly or unexpectedly in large numbers," and adds language, such as "places of habitual residence," so that the focus is broader than the home per se. Its more nuanced a nd realistic description of the causes of displacement includes as IDPs not only persons directly forced to flee but also persons obliged to leave to avoid generalized violence and human rights abuses. The definition retains persons displaced by natural or human made disasters. In part, this is because the definition is descriptive of the term "internally displaced person" itself. The plight of IDPs People forced to flee or leave their homes, particularly in situations of armed conflict, are generally subject to heightened vulnerability in a number of areas. Displaced persons suffer significantly higher rates of mortality than the general population. The overwhelming majority of internally displaced persons are women and children who are especially at risk of abuse of their basic rights. The following are a few problems that IDPs are forced to bear with (please note that you are required to further research into these problems): 1) Sexual Assault and Abduction A grave tribulation associated with the case of IDPs is the fact that many of them are victims of sexual abuse. Prior to abuse many are abducted and in the most severe cases are even tortured. As the rights of IDPs are completely overlooked they are considered to be easy preys and more frequently targeted than the average citizen. Abuse is not only restricted to women and children but in the most extreme of cases is even carried out on men. Many IDPs as a result even go missing and are never to be seen again. It is the responsibility of this committee to address this particular problem. 2) Violence Often due to lack of resources in IDP camps and other difficult conditions violence erupts. It is seen that even the pettiest of issues can become very serious and injuries caused by these fights can often be fatal. Violence is also caused as a result of being ethnic minorities. In a form of hate crime these minorities are often targeted based on their religion and racial differences. They are at times captured and tortured until death. IDPs of a particular country may also be targeted by enemies and may be attacked on the basis of psychological warfare believing that by attacking men and women of a particular country they will be able to weaken and demoralize their opponents. 3) Deprivation of adequate shelter

GraMUN II Lahore Grammar School, Fsd.

[STUDY GUIDE] UNHRC


IDPs lack proper shelter and suitable place to reside. Many of them live in camps and weak structured buildings which provide little or nil protection from harsh weather conditions. Consequently the number of diseases spread and many people die. At times too many people might be living together. This leads to an increase in violence and sexual abuse. Other than physical abuse many also become the victims of verbal abuse which can have a negative effect on certain groups (such as children). Internally Displaced Persons may be in transit from one place to another, in hiding, or forced towards unhealthy or inhospitable environments or face other circumstances that make them particularly vulnerable. 4) Profound Psychosocial Distress At times many displaced people are unable to bear or cope with the situations and environment they have been subjected to. Groups like children, elderly and pregnant women are seen to be victims. Such experiences can have traumatic effects on them. For instance, a 2006 study by the International Medical Corps on the mental health of displaced

women in South Darfur found that almost one-third of displaced women surveyed suffered from a major depressive disorder. Many IDPs experience high levels of fear and humiliation. In chronic conflict areas, large segments of the population experience trauma and children are often particularly affected. Chances of this increase when people are separated from their family, as a result they are left on their own which can lead to a series of other problems. 5) Deprivation of appropriate nutrition and health services Many are at a risk of being lead to starvation; resources are not enough to fulfill their needs. This lack of edible items (as mentioned earlier) often leads to physical violence. . Many suffer from malnutrition, often more so than the non-displaced populations who, despite suffering similar hardships, may have been able to retain resources and coping strategies. Furthermore, the mere delivery of food may not be enough to avert malnutrition. Traumatized persons suffer more frequently from eating difficulties or digestion problems. It is well-documented that a mothers trauma or depression has a direct effect on the nutritional status of her children. IDPs lack other resources as well such as proper clothing etc which too is of great concern. The existing and limited IDP specific health data suggest that in more than half the countries affected by internal displacement, including practically all African and most Asian countries, IDPs and in many cases the population at large have no access to adequate health care. The main reasons are breakdown of health services in war-affected areas, lack of national financial resources, or the IDPs remote location. In many countries, IDPs access to clean water and sanitation is inferior to that of the general population whereas it is believed that clean water and appropriate sanitation are fundamental for a healthy environment. It has been widely recognized that HIV/AIDS has a disruptive effect on families and entire communities. Malnutrition is typically higher among populations with a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, because the body of HIV-positive people cannot absorb nutrients as efficiently, and because there are fewer adults earning an income, which increases food insecurity. The resolution should be made keeping these issues mind however one should keep in mind the fact that these arent the only problems IDPs face and that their plight continues to go on due to several other reasons as well.

GraMUN II Lahore Grammar School, Fsd.

[STUDY GUIDE] UNHRC

Bibliography:
http://www.riema.ri.gov/preparedness/hazards/civil.php http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internally_displaced_person http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/1994/5/cj14n1-13.pdf http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c146.html

GraMUN II Lahore Grammar School, Fsd.