How human rights shape international law and global politics

Iran’s abolition of the death penalty for drug-related offenses in 2017 was a significant step, demonstrating the growth in awareness of human rights as a global issue. Human rights shape international law and global politics, promoting respect for earned liberties and the dignity of individuals.

Human rights in international law

Human rights are universal rights enjoyed by all people irrespective of their race, gender, nationality, or religion. Human rights have become increasingly recognized as a mandatory part of international law, finding its first expression in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948. This document set out the principles, values, and standards of human rights to be recognized and protected globally.

Navigating international law can be challenging because each country operates from its position of national interest. As a result, assessing human rights abuses in foreign jurisdictions is not always straightforward. Nevertheless, a clear international standard of human rights guides the way States and their agents must behave and conduct themselves. This standard is frequently benchmarked against the principles outlined in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The evolution of human rights in global politics

Throughout time, human rights have evolved and expanded to new domains such as the right to a clean and healthy environment, the right to education, and the right to sexual and reproductive health. The growth and expansion of human rights protection are both a result of political activism and judicial intervention. The influence of human rights has become so widespread and continues to shape global politics significantly.

Previously, the character of international politics dealt with state power and protection of national interest over collective goals. However, human rights have reshaped the political landscape, reshaping attitudes to the behavior of states towards their citizens, and creating more predictable international relations.

The role of human rights in shaping foreign policy

A country's policies and practices must align and integrate human rights frameworks to be acceptable at the global level. Global governance and policy cannot overlook countries that infringe upon human rights. States that violate the rights of their citizens face scrutiny, censure, sanctions, or international legal action. Countries with poor human rights records face censure, economic sanctions, or diplomatic isolation in the international community.

  • Human rights considerations help to determine the flow and direction of foreign policy.
  • Human rights have helped shape the way foreign aid is given, debt repayment, and investments made.
  • Human rights considerations help set the agenda for global trade and economic policies.

Human rights violations and consequences for states and individuals

States that violate human rights face significant consequences. These include diplomatic isolation, the loss of economic opportunities, censure, and a reduction in its international influence. Individuals who suffer human rights abuses have the right to complain, and States must ensure that their rights are protected and justice is done.

The modern system of human rights violations calls for states to create their own human rights institutions or affiliate to existing regional and global human rights institutions. It enables the punishment of persons or governments who violate such rights, rendering them subject to international law, censure and coercive measures.

The future of human rights in global governance

Human rights remain critical in the evolution of global governance, promoting social justice, self-determination, and protecting the individual from the state’s powers. The UN operates as the most prominent global platform for the promotion of human rights, while other organizations, including the International Criminal Court (ICC), specialize in the prosecution of individuals who violate human rights. More strategic efforts that are multilateral should be made to promote human rights protection on the global level. Increasing the awareness of human rights, promoting education, and the creation of a robust legal framework will promote a better future for human rights protection.

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