Term Paper: Complaints From Individuals Under the Various Human

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¶ … complaints from individuals under the various human rights treaties. How do such procedures affect the work of the special rapporteurs under the extra-conventional system?

The system of the protection of human rights represents one of the most important mechanisms the international society has successfully set in place following the Second World War. This success is largely due to the existence of the United Nations and other international organizations such as the OSCE in Europe which deal with such issues. Their institutions related to human rights affairs have created a framework which enables individuals to press charges and complaints regarding human rights abuses made by states and organizations. However, an important aspect of the system of protection of human rights has also been the activity of the Special Rapporteurs for the United Nations who represents an extra-conventional mechanism of protection. In this sense, both the activities of the individuals manifested through their complaints and that of the Rapporteurs through their reports and investigations are intermingled and make up an effective system of protection which allows individuals to have their human rights respected and those in breach of these rights punished.

The present paper discusses the way in which the procedures available for individuals to file complaints in regard to human rights abuses contribute to the current system of the protection of human rights through the use of the available treaties in this sense. Moreover, taking into account the fact that the activities of the Special Rapporteurs are part of the extra-conventional protection system, the paper will analyze the way in which the these procedures affect their activity in the area.

In order to have a better understanding of the way in which individual complaints and extra conventional mechanisms work together in order to create a better and improved human rights protection system, it is important to consider several aspects. Thus, the first part of the analysis will address the general system of human rights protection, both inside the UN and in other organizations such as the OSCE. Second, a presentation of the mechanisms set in place is important because it offers the framework individuals can use to defend their rights. Third, several cases will be discussed as a case in point for the way in which individual complaints have succeeded or not to stand against human rights abuses. Finally, with these matters in regard, the way in which these actions and mechanisms affect the activities of the Special Rapporteurs will be dealt with in order to underline the way in which individual actions and extra conventional ones manage to address the crucial issue of human rights protection.

Part one: General system of protection of human rights

The United Nations system bases its activities on several legal instruments which make up the UN protection system. These include, first and foremost the Council on Human Rights, the most important instrument through which the UN can act at the level of the international system. There have been many debates over the usefulness of a Human Rights Council, taking into account the fact that the Commission on Human Rights played a secondary role in the system of the United Nations. In this sense, there have been views which consider that the role of the UN in human rights protection, one of the most important activities of the organization, has been minimal precisely because the organism accredited for taking this position lacked political support (Russbach, 1994). However, the current system based on the mechanisms of the Council tries to "promote the full implementation of human rights obligations undertaken by States and follow-up to the goals and commitments related to the promotion and protection of human rights emanating from United Nations conferences and summits" (General Assembly, 2006). Therefore, from this point-of-view, it is fair to say that the most important mechanism of the UN in this respect is the Human Rights Council.

The United Nations is the advocate of human rights since its inception and has worked to promote them and the respect for them since the late 1940s. However, the international law is limited in its development especially taking into consideration the fact that developing a piece of international law requires the acceptance of states at the political level, an aspect which is rather hard to attain. Therefore, the mechanisms which have actually been agreed upon are representative for the way in which human rights have developed.

These mechanisms include seven conventions which address the issue of human rights from different perspectives. Thus, there are several essential documents such as "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights," "International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966," "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966," "Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," "Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty" (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2008).

These legal aspects and tools are important for the way in which the system can develop because it offers the means through which institutions, states, as well as individuals can address the issue of human rights in a manner that defends their rights. The Universal Charter for Human Rights is probably the most important document of the UN not necessarily because of a certain legal values that it may poses or not, but more importantly due to its moral impact. Thus, it represents the cornerstone of the human rights protection system simply due to the fact that it was written in a time when the right to life as stipulated in the Declaration was something put it doubt.

Despite the fact that the most important piece of document related to the issue of human rights is not necessarily important for its legal aspect, the UN system is a compact mechanism of legal tools. In this sense, a "series of international human rights treaties and other instruments adopted since 1945 have conferred legal form on inherent human rights and developed the body of international human rights. Other instruments have been adopted at the regional level reflecting the particular human rights concerns of the region and providing for specific mechanisms of protection. Most States have also adopted constitutions and other laws which formally protect basic human rights" (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2008). Therefore the matter of the human rights as well as the protection of these rights is not an issue reserved to the United Nations, but rather one which each nation state must monitor and abide. In the situation in which this aspect is not respected at the national level, the individual has the right to file a complaint against the state for having breached his human rights.

The UN is not the only organization which aims at solving the issues of human rights. There are as well other regional organizations whose aim is to ensure that human rights are respected in Europe if one talks about the OSCE. More precisely, the OSCE however adopts the universal principles of the United Nations, yet act in a local manner. For instance, one of the most important initiatives of the OSCE is the increase of awareness in terms of human rights. In this sense, the European initiatives is related to several mechanisms which include "the Vienna Mechanism which was established in 1989, established a regulatory board known as the Human Dimension Mechanism that promotes human rights through negotiating, mediating, and fact-finding. Bilateral negotiators, OSCE experts, and rapporteurs conduct the Human Dimension Mechanism with assistance from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)" and the "The Moscow Mechanism was established in 1991. Along with the Vienna Mechanism, it is an instrument for protection of the "Human Dimension." While the Vienna Mechanism allows for inquiries into states' human rights records, the Moscow Mechanism allows for independent experts to resolve human dimension conflicts in member states. Under the Moscow Mechanism, there may be an investigation of human dimension questions in extreme situations without the consent of the state in question. Its experts are appointed by OSCE member states" (Human Rights Education Association, n.d.). These mechanisms are important from two points-of-view: on the one hand, it offers a perspective on the way in which European states decide to tackle the issue of human rights; and on the other hand it sets a real mechanism for implementation of huma rights through sanctioning mechanisms in Europe.

Part two: mechanisms for protection

There are several mechanisms which can be useful and that are considered to have worldwide jurisdiction. Most of the times they are instruments of the United Nations because the UN offers the most comprehensive view on human rights and individual freedoms as well as the most important political and economic resources.

One of the mechanisms is the Human Rights Council. Another one however is comprised of several instruments aimed at dealing with human rights others than the most common ones. In this sense, the United Nations Development Program… [END OF PREVIEW]

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