[Editorial Analysis] In Good Faith: The rights side of 70

Mains Paper 2: International Relations

Prelims level: UN

Mains level: Important international institutions and their mandate


• In his famous book, Man and the State, the French philosopher Jacques Maritain draws attention to the universal essence of human rights above ideologies.

• Maritain was right to underline that a dignified life was based on the establishment of the basic needs and rights of every individual independent of his or her race, language, culture, religion or nationality.

• The core idea of this optimistic philosophy that states and peoples can discuss practical issues and arrive at mutual agreements despite ideological differences.

A lesson for more equitable future

• In that sense, from the very beginning, their task was as much philosophical as it was judicial.

• However, influenced by the spirit of the French Revolution and its revolutionary motto “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité”.

• Cassin identified the four foundational blocks of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as “dignity, liberty, equality, and brotherhood”.

• By “dignity”, developed in the first two articles of the universal declaration, Cassin referred to all the values which were shared by individuals beyond their sex, race, creed and religion.

• As for “liberty”, it included articles three to 19, and emphasised on rights related to individual life, liberty and personal security.

• Under “equality”, Cassin understood rights related to the public sphere and political participation (articles 20 to 26), and, under “brotherhood” were economic, social and cultural rights (articles 27 and 28).

• Finally, the three last articles (28, 29 and 30) focused on the conditions in which these could be realised in society and the state.

• French legal scholar, who was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in drafting the final version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Way forward

• However, the concept of rights long recognised in historically significant laws, charters and constitutions such as the Magna Carta (1215), American Declaration of Independence (1776), Bill of Rights (1791) and the French Declaration of Rights of Man and the Citizen (1789), and at the foundation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 — did not succeed in overcoming the approaches of the states and individuals who distinguished
between “themselves” and “others”.

• Let us not forget that out of them 58 members of the United Nations, only 48 ratified the universal declaration while Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the Soviet Union, Poland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia, Byelorussia and Czechoslovakia abstained, because they were worried that the moral appeal of the document would endanger the sanctity of their domestic laws and regulations.

• However, despite the tireless struggles of three generations of individuals and institutions, and the impact of globalisation on human rights, the Universal Declaration is considered as a lantern of hope viewed from afar by political prisoners and refugees around the world.


Prelims Questions:

Q.1) Which among the following aim to promote the human rights?

1. Preamble

2. Directive Principles of State Policy

3. Fundamental Rights

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: D

Mains Questions:

Q.1) Can we imagine an agreement of minds between men who come from the four corners of the globe and who not only belong to different cultures and civilisations, but are of antagonistic spiritual associations and schools of thought?

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