South Asia Research and Analysis Studies

Universal declaration of human rights
Mohammad Jamil

On 10th December1948, United Nations General Assembly adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The first para of the preamble of the declaration states: “Whereas 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”. It comprises 30 articles, and the first article reads: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. Article 2 states that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration, without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex language, religion, political or other opinion etc. Article 3 states that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. The other 27 Articles deal threadbare with the details of those rights and how they have to be protected.

The concept of human rights vis-à-vis life, property and freedom owes its origin to the emergence of capitalism after the Industrial Revolution. Rising bourgeoisie supported the rationalism of Voltaire and naturalism of Rousseau, as they were to assume the leadership due to the void created by the barons and clergy. The concept of democracy however emerged with capitalism, and over time acquired social democratic element. The masses were thus given tangible benefits in terms of social welfare and income redistribution in return. The developing countries however could not provide social benefits to its populations that are living in abject poverty, which gives rise to crimes, extremism and terrorism. If the developed countries want to eliminate the scourge of terrorism and make this world a better place to live in, it should help the developing countries so that they can allocate adequate funds for health, education and other social sectors in their countries. In fact, it is the responsibility of the founder signatories of the charter to help the millions of the wretched of the earth so that they could lead a decent a life.

The UN was founded in 1945 after World War II to replace the League of Nations, which had failed to stop wars between countries, and could not provide protection to the weaker nations. The United Nations Organization’s stated aims are: facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace. But big and mighty have over the years showed utter disregard to the aims and objects of the UN and other international covenants. India and Israel top the list of human rights violators and they continue committing atrocities on Kashmiris and Palestinians respectively. However, they have failed to break their will and determination during the last sixty three years. There is consensus among analysts that Kashmir and Palestine are the flashpoints, and real threat to world peace. And if international community fails to implement United Nations Security Councils resolutions, the desire for a peaceful world will remain an illusion.

But international community has never forced India to implement the UN Security Council resolutions, allowing Kashmiris to exercise their right of self-determination to merge with Pakistan or India through plebiscite. But it does not look like that they will do it because only when public protest fits into the geopolitical designs of the US and the West that they declare it a popular movement and honour it with the award of a colour label. The orange revolution of Ukraine, the rose revolution of Georgia, the cidar revolution of Lebanon and much earlier velvet revolution of Czechoslovakia would pale before the Kashmiris’ movement for their freedom, yet they were given colours by the colour-blind big powers. It has to be mentioned that in none of the above cases there was a UN mandate whereas Kashmiris have been given the inalienable right of self-determination by the UNSC in 1948 and 5th January 1949. As a matter of fact, apathy shown by the UN and the big powers has emboldened India, which is why it has always refused to implement the UN Security Council resolutions during the last 63 years.

Take the case of East Timor, a resolution was passed and implemented within months. In 1991, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, once again UN Security Council passed the resolution, which was implemented in weeks. Anyhow, when people of Kashmir realized that international community would neither pressurize Indian into implementing the UNSC resolutions nor it would persuade India to put an end to its barbarities, Kashmiris took up the arms, and more than 90000 Kashimiris have laid down their lives since 1989. In Pakistan, some analysts had radiated an aura of optimism and pinned high hopes on the Congress leadership for the resolution of all outstanding issues including the Kashmir dispute, but they have now been utterly disappointed over India’s intransigence. There are others who are skeptical about resumption of the stalled composite dialogue till the Congress is at the helm of affairs because Kashmir was forcibly occupied during Congress rule. Anyhow, if India does not resolve the Kashmir dispute, the people of the region would live in trepidation because both India and Pakistan are nuclear states. Of equal import is the Palestinian question, and there is a perception that its resolution will have positive effect on tackling terrorism in its long-term perspective. It has to be said that for lasting peace and stability in the world, both Kashmir and Palestine issues have to be resolved. As a matter of fact, India continues with its intransigence. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh occasionally hinted that India was willing to discuss with Pakistan all the issues including Kashmir but in the same breath he negated himself by saying that there would be no redrawing of the borders. It is true that state violence or counter violence never helps solve the problem. And one could not think of Pakistan wresting Kashmir from India through the use of force. But thinking of India invading Pakistan with impunity could also be described as puerile nonsense. The international community should understand the gravity of the situation and should help resolve the Kashmir and Palestinian issues. By doing so, the world will become a much safer place to live in.

The UN and the big powers should ask Israel to put an end to its naked, contemptible and brazen aggression on Palestinians. And of course they should ask India to resume composite dialogue and take it to its logical conclusion. If the US and the West continue pampering Israel, the billowing flames could engulf the entire region, which will not augur well for the world because such acts provide justification to the militants to retaliate. Then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat while addressing a joint meeting of the US House and Senate as long ago as 1975 had said: “I urge you, in the most emphatic term, to lend the Palestinian people your understanding and support. Help them to overcome despair and frustration. The continuation of neglect and defiance is but an open invitation to violence, negativism and extremism.” It should be borne in mind that a regional war, be it in South Asia or Middle East, could engulf the entire world. And even a super power would not be safe because there are a dozen nuclear states - declared and undeclared - with reliable delivery system.