The Effectiveness of UN Human Rights Institutions (Critical Perspectives on World)

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These are updated every three years with progress reports describing the country's macroeconomic, structural and social policies and programs over a three-year or longer period to promote growth and reduce poverty. Interim PRSPs I-PRSPs summarize the current knowledge and analysis of a country's poverty situation, describe the existing poverty reduction strategy, and lay out the process for producing a fully developed PRSP in a participatory fashion.

The introduction of PRSPs was a recognition by the IMF and the World Bank of the importance of country ownership of reform programs as well as the need for a greater focus on poverty reduction. PRSPs aim to provide the crucial link between national public actions, donor support, and the development outcomes needed to meet the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals MDGs , which are centered on halving poverty between and Five core principles underlie the approach. Poverty reduction strategies should be 1 country-driven, promoting national ownership of strategies through broad-based participation of civil society; 2 result-oriented and focused on outcomes that will benefit the poor; 3 comprehensive in recognizing the multidimensional nature of poverty; 4 partnership-oriented, involving coordinated participation of development partners government, domestic stakeholders, and external donors ; and 5 based on a long-term perspective for poverty reduction.

In The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights commissioned the guidelines for the integration of human rights into poverty reduction Strategies which were further developed in the guidelines [26] The Commissioner in a concept note also states that the human rights framework is "a useful tool strengthening the accountability and equity dimensions of the Poverty Reductions Strategies.

These goals are sets of development targets that center on halving poverty and improving the welfare of the world's poorest by The IMF contributes to the goals through advice, technical assistance, lending to countries and mobilizing donor support.

The Millennium Declaration considers six fundamental values necessary for international relations 1 freedom to raise children in dignity, freedom from hunger and from the fear of violence, oppression and injustice, including democratic and participatory governance based on the will of the people. Prudence must be shown in the management of all living species and natural resources, through sustainable development and unsustainable patterns of production and consumption must be changed in the interest of the future welfare of our descendants and 6 shared responsibility, responsibility for managing worldwide economic and social development, as well as threats to international peace and security, must be shared among the nations of the world and should be exercised multilaterally.

Human rights have played a limited role in influencing MDG planning, though there are strong similarities between them and the content of the MDGs which resemble many economic and social rights. MDGs provide benchmarks for economic and social rights, while human rights strategies offer enhanced legitimacy, equity and sustainability to the MDG policies.

The Millennium Declaration substantially refers to human rights and leaders have committed themselves to respecting recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development. Economic, social and cultural rights, the rights of women, migrant, minorities, and participation are all emphasized in the declaration yet the pursuit of the MDGs has been in isolation from it.

MDG targets are not sufficiently focused on inequalities within a country and human rights instruments require a minimum core level of economic, social and cultural rights to be immediately realized for all and for all discrimination in the exercise of rights to be eliminated. Inequalities within countries lead to violent conflict and countries focus on the relatively well-off among the poor in order to reach a particular MDG target.

The MDGs are accompanied by 18 targets measured by 60 indicators though the relationship between the goals, targets and indicators is not always clear. A range of activities are promoted as a means of achieving the MDGs such as tailoring the MDGs to the regional, national and local context and undertaking national needs assessments and monitoring progress through yearly MDG reports.

Non-State actors also carry human rights responsibilities with at least a minimum duty of not interfering with human rights such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises [32] provides a complaint system for violations by companies. A specific critique of MDGs is that they place emphasis on the mobilization of financial resources and technical solutions, but less on transforming power relations that are partially responsible for levels of poverty. The World Bank [33] has observed that in many situations the real barriers to progress on the MDGs are social and political.

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The realization of human rights therefore may be a precondition to fulfilling development goals. The present global institutional order is foreseeably associated with avoidable severe poverty and its impositions may constitute an ongoing human rights violation. Amartya Sen argues that individual physical characteristics, environmental and social conditions as well as behavioural expectations all play a role.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights defines poverty as "human conditions characterised by chronic deprivation of resources capabilities, choices, security and power necessary for the enjoyment of an adequate standard of living". Jeffrey Sachs place poverty in an historical trajectory with the ending of slavery, colonialism, segregation and apartheid but do not link these human rights movements to current causes of poverty elimination.

Policy economists discuss minimum standards, transparency, and participation unrelated to the human rights framework where poverty is seen to increases social wastage distorting economic and service delivery outcomes. Joseph Stiglitz in Making Globalization Work refers to a gap between economic and political globalization and that a growth oriented economic analysis disregarding the impact of income on the realization of rights such as health or education and focusing instead on making choices in a world of limited resources.

The G Statement on Global Development Issues does not mention human rights or human development and good governance is referred to only in relation to economic policy. In the the Global Plan for Recovery and Reform [36] also fails to mention human rights or human development. The ingrained philosophy is a world economy based on market principles and effective regulation.

A strand of economics embraces human rights language such as the International Development Ethics Association [37] who apply a normative approach to development theories. Human rights under these development perspectives revolve around the concept of freedom with expanding choice. The World Conference on Human Rights the Vienna Declaration confirmed that extreme poverty and social exclusion constitute a violation of human dignity and urgent steps are necessary to achieve better knowledge of extreme poverty and its causes. Economic growth is regarded as the principal mechanism to achieve this goal while a human rights approach requires a focus on poor growth and a consideration of groups seeking development paths other than the conventional free market, export-driven model.

South-eastern Asia is the first developing region to reach the hunger reduction target ahead of Undernourished people in the total population of the region decreased from However, globally the slowing of growth brings continual job losses. Unemployment has increased by 28 million since , and an estimated 39 million people have dropped out of the labour market, leaving 67 million people without jobs as a result of the global financial crisis.

Families who send their girls to school are eligible to receive an annual ration of wheat and vegetable oil. Since the programme has reached almost , girls. Whilst in India the UNDP is supporting the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Program , promoting laws passed in which guarantee the right to a minimum of days of paid work a year for landless labourers and marginal farmers. The scheme now provides 50 days work a year to around 50 million households where almost half of the beneficiaries are women. Varun Gauri argues that economic and social rights, such as the right to health care or education, may be understood not as legal instruments for individuals, but as duties for governments and international agencies such that everyone bears some responsibility for their fulfillment.

Economists accept that the realization of high standards of health and education are conducive to economic growth. The human rights approach regards transparency and empowerment as ends in themselves, while an economic approach sees them as instrumental to a welfare outcome.

The target is to ensure that by , children everywhere will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling [44] comparable to the Right to education , the goal however ignores the requirement of free primary education as conceived by the human right. Even after 4 years of primary schooling, as many as million children cannot read and write undermining the basis for all future learning.


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Going to school is not enough and improving actual learning is critical. Poverty, gender and residential location are key factors keeping children out of school. Children from the poorest households are three times more likely to be out of school than children from the richest households. Positive developments have occurred in Afghanistan and Bangladesh where the Let Us Learn initiative has overcome barriers to education. The third MDG is to promote gender equality and empower women.

Eliminating gender inequality is supported by international human rights instruments, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The goal sets women's empowerment as the objective but the related target is narrowly concerned with education. Gender gaps in access to education have narrowed but inequalities remain in all levels of education, girls face barriers to schooling, particularly in Northern Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia.

Access to secondary and university education remains unequal with disparities at universities the most extreme. In Southern Asia, 77 girls per boys are enrolled in tertiary education while in sub-Saharan Africa the gender gap in enrolment has widened from 66 girls per boys in to 61 girls per boys in Poverty is the main cause of unequal access to education with women and girls in many parts of the world forced to spend many hours fetching water and girls often do not attend school because of a lack of adequate sanitation facilities.

Child marriage and violence against girls are also significant barriers to education.


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Women still enter the labour market on an unequal basis to men, even after accounting for educational background and skills. Women are often relegated to vulnerable forms of employment, with little or no financial security or social benefits.

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Regarding women's rights and land empowerment, Kerry Rittich [47] notes that programmes which promote the formal real property rights of women, in place of customary laws or other informal mechanisms, have the potential to both improve and retard women's access to land. The programmes promoting property rights tend to go together with measures to formalize, commodify, and individualize landholdings, and that these three processes often intensify the dispossession of women who may have had access to land under informal arrangements or customary law.

The promotion of property rights from an economic perspective may well undermine the social rights of women in developing countries.

Legal conceptions of property, treat property not as a mere resource but as a set of relations between individuals and groups. This approach may highlight otherwise unforeseen distributive consequences for women, moving from an informal property regime to a formalized and individualized one. Mason and Carlsson [48] note that, unless gender inequality in land holding is taken into account when implementing land tenure reforms, improved land tenure security may diminish women's land holdings.

A variety of factors can lead to this result, including discriminatory inheritance laws, the application of an androcentric definition of 'the head of household', and inequalities in women's capacity to participate in the market for land. Costa Rica and Colombia land reforms were undertaken in a way that improved women's ownership of land.

Women who own the land they work have greater incentives to raise their labour productivity, and women who earn more income are more likely than men to invest in the household and in their children's education and nutrition stressing the importance of applying a human rights lens such that norms of non-discrimination and equal property rights are required when implementing economic reforms.

The fourth MDG is to reduce child mortality. A human rights approach emphasizes the State's obligations regarding the availability of functioning health systems and making sure that all groups can effectively access them by addressing obstacles like discrimination. The target here is the reduction of two-thirds of the mortality rate of children under five by [49] comparable to the Right to life.

Around 17, fewer children are dying each day, yet 6.