Human Rights: Responses by Relevant Global Actors Flashcards Preview

1. GLobal Politics U 4 > Human Rights: Responses by Relevant Global Actors > Flashcards

Flashcards in Human Rights: Responses by Relevant Global Actors Deck (10)
Loading flashcards...



The varied actors of the International Community have responded in a variety of ways to uphold human rights.


Responses by [States] ?


1) The Primary way that states support human rights is to sign and ratify internationally the relevant human rights laws and treaties.
 However, many states choose not to do so, often citing their own national interest as justification not to do so.

2) The national court systems of various states have sought to prosecute human rights violations outside of their own borders;
 Helping to set important international precedents and warnings for those responsible.

In 1998 a Spanish judge sought Augusto Pinochet’s extradition from the UK. Pinochet was accused of human rights abuses committed while Chile’s dictator from 1973-1990.
In 2000, the British Government decided Pinochet could legally be extradited to Spain.
This case suggests that leaders who break International law could be arrested and indicted when visiting other states based on the doctrine of universal jurisdiction (any court may exercise jurisdiction over crimes against humanity).
Alien Tort Claims Act

In June 2004, The US Supreme Court upheld the Alien Torts Act but warned courts not to use the law to impede the ability of Congress and the President to conduct foreign policy.
The 1789 Act allows federal courts to try “any civil action by an alien for a tort committed in violation of the law of nationals or a treaty of the United States”.
This saw a cases brought against Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic


Responses by {IGG’s]



The UN Charter explicitly refers to human rights as a reflection of the horrors of the Second World War. The establishment of the UN and its Charter reflected a need to assert a universal position and expectations for the behaviour of states.

• The UN office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) promotes the idea that human rights are “universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated”. This has seen the OHCHR deploy rights advisors to signatory states, provide funding for human rights projects within peacekeeping missions and investigating and documenting human rights situations.
o However the OHCHR lacks enforcement powers and depends on persuasion, observation and compliance to improve governments’ human rights policies.

• The UN Human Rights Council is empowered to examine, monitor and publicly report on human rights situations in specific states and territories. For example, The Council Complaints Procedure Mechanism allows individuals and organizations to bring complaints about human rights violations to the attention of the council.

o The council has replaced the Human Rights Commission in 2006, which had been criticized for dubious human rights record of some of its members.
o The Council is an inter-governmental subsidiary of the ECOSOC.


Responses by {IGG’s]
-International Criminal Tibunals



International Criminal Tribunals may also seek to promote and hold accountable those responsible for the worst human rights violations, and in doing so to dissuade future violations.

However, the tribunals have been criticised for operating at a great expense—in 2000 their costs accounted for over 10% of the UN budget—and for their protracted and drawn out nature;
 in 2003 the Security Council called upon the ICTY and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to complete all work by 2012 or be handed over to their respective domestic jurisdictions.


Responses by {IGG’s]
-International Criminal Tibunals

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia?


• One example is the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, established by the Security Council in 1993. The Tribunal was the first genuine international tribunal of its kind and first to invoke the Geneva Convention.

o The tribunal consists of 16 permanent judges selected by the GA and an independent prosecutor.

o It charged Slobodan Milosevic with crimes committed in Kosovo and Bosnia during his time as President of Serbia and Yugoslavia. The trial started in 2002 but proceedings were cut short by Milosevic’s death in 206.

o The crimes included:

  • two counts of genocide and complicity in genocide
  • ten counts of crimes against humanity
  • eight counts of grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Convention
  • Nine counts of violations of the laws and customs of war

Responses by {IGG’s]
-International Criminal Tibunals

The 2002 Special Court for Sierra Leone ?

  • The 2002 Special Court for Sierra Leone is a judicial body set up by the government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations[2] to “prosecute persons who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law” committed in Sierra Leone after 30 November 1996 and during the Sierra Leone Civil War.
  • —which has charged former Liberian President Charles Taylor on allegations that he supported rebel forces and used amputations and rape to gain control of the diamond trade in Sierra Leone.
  • Thus far, 13 individuals have been indicted on charges of committing crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other violations of international humanitarian law. No individuals have been charged with crimes under Sierra Leonean law.

A total of 22 people have been indicted in the SCSL. Proceedings against 20 people have been completed


Responses by {IGG’s]
-International Criminal Tibunals

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda?

  • The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda—which has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, which are defined as violations of Common Article Three and Additional Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions (dealing with war crimes committed during internal conflicts).
  • So far, the tribunal has finished 50 trials and convicted 29 accused persons. Another 11 trials are in progress. 14 individuals are awaiting trial in detention

Responses by {IGG’s]



The International Criminal Court came into force on 1 July 2002 after the Rome Statute was ratified by 60 states. Unlike international criminal tribunals the ICC is a permanent international court with global jurisdiction to try individuals for war crimes, genocide and crimes of aggression. The ICC exercises jurisdiction where national courts are unwilling, or unable, to prosecute individuals accused of “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community”.

  • In seeking to hold those responsible for such crimes accountable, the ICC aims to “break the cycle of violence and retribution that marks so many conflicts…and even change the world’s worst criminals”.
  • However, the legitimacy and resources required by the ICC to work effectively have been challenged by US opposition and it is argued that under the ICC, peace has become a hostage to justice because once arrest warrants are issued; there is no incentive for perpetrators to cease their violence.

For example, the ICC prosecuted Thomas Dyilo in 2012, its first, and sentenced him to 14 years for charges of conscripting child soldiers.


Responses by {IGG’s]

-Intergovernmental organisations?


The European Union’s European Court of Human Rights provides 800 million Europeans with an additional level of human rights protection. Europeans dissatisfied with their treatment by their national government are able to continue their legal dispute beyond national courts with regard to violations of civil and political rights.

• In the 50 years since its establishment, the court has delivered more than 10,000 judgements which are binding on the states concerned.


Responses by {IGG’s]

-Non Gocernmental organisations


As a result of changes in communication technology, NGOs are able to link people from across the globe that have common concerns and in so doing, create global voices for change, helping to develop new norms and standards.

• This is no less true than for human rights for which there are literally hundreds of organisations seeking to uphold these rights.

Amnesty International
Amnesty International campaigns internationally for human rights to be recognised, respected and protected.
• With a global membership in excess of 3 million and operating in over 80 states, A.I seeks to highlight situations in which human rights are violated and campaigns for their restitution through direct lobbying, public demonstrations, email petitions etc.
o For example, A.I was at the forefront of highlighting and condemning the deaths of hundreds of people following Nigeria’s April 2011 elections.