An independent think-tank

“People are beings with human rights and human dignity”

“The principle of educating people of their human rights is to make them understand that they are not just ordinary entities or creations but rather, they are beings with human rights and human dignity,” said Jhune B. Pacis, who addressed a Workshop on Human Rights organized by PIPS in collaboration with Sungi Development Foundation, on November 6, 2008 in Islamabad.

The speaker mentioned that human rights are more than legal concepts and principles. They are the essence of man and woman. Denying them is denying man/woman’s dignity. Human rights, he said, are innate entitlements and privileges of being human. “Human Rights and Human Dignity are the effects of being created in the image and likeness of Him who created us,” the guest speaker added.

Talking to audience, Mr. Pacis presented four modules i.e. (a) what are human rights? (b) basic principles of human rights (c) legal bases of human rights, and (d) states and human rights. He also explained attributes of human beings and characteristics of human rights. Characteristics of human rights include that they are (a) universal (b) inalienable (c) interrelated, and (d) indivisible.

Legal bases of human rights support our human rights struggles. Declarations, decrees, conventions, protocols, constitutions and other tools provide legal bases for human rights. International treaties and declarations include Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (IESCR), International Bill of Human Rights, and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

UDHR was adopted by members of the United Nations on December 10, 1948. It is also referred to as the International Magna Carta. It incorporates the idea that “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.” ICCPR was adopted and opened for signature in 1966. In ICCPR, it is provided that “all persons are equal before law and are entitled without discrimination. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social; origin, birth or other status.”

UDHR, ICCPR & ICESCR are commonly referred to as the International Bill of Human Rights. CEDAW is described as the International Bill of Rights of Women. It is also known as “The Women’s Convention” or the United Nations Treaty for the Rights of Women. It is the first and only International Treaty that comprehensively addresses women’s rights not only within civilian political spheres, but also within economic, social, cultural and family life.

Governments are obliged to respond to needs of their people and ensure fulfillment of their human rights. According to the social contract theory, the speaker explained, the governments are given the authority to discharge their duties with regard to protection, promotion and fulfillment of human rights.

After the presentation, a question and answer session ensued. The speaker answered to questions raised and explained the points further. He also referred to Quran, Bible and other scriptures to support his argument that religion also provides for all necessary human rights.