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‘ What do you understand by Human Rights? Discuss the relevance of social Contract theories in the making of ideas of Human Rights?’
Title: ‘ What do you understand by Human Rights? Discuss the relevance of social Contract theories in the making of ideas of Human Rights?’
This essay focuses on about the human rights and its’ surroundings. The meaning of human rights and what are the human rights. I try to describe the Universal and inalienable, Interdependent and indivisible, equal and non-discriminatory, both Rights and Obligations based on the human rights. I also focuses on the social contract theory, which was introduced by early modern thinkers—Hugo Grotius, Thomas Hobes, Samuel Pufendorf, and John Loke the most well-known. The concept of the social contract comes from Socrates, as described by Plato in Crito. Then I try to compare the social contract theory and the human rights in Bangladesh. Here, I have given an example for understanding where our human right is and where we are.
UDHR: Universal Declaration of human Rights
DAD: Deputy Assistant Director
Human right means the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled. When we give a examples of rights and freedoms, including civil and political rights which have come to be commonly thought of as human rights, like the right to liberty and life, freedom of equality and expression, and before the law; and economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, the working right, and the educational right. We know that the all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. According to the civil liberties, “The term “human rights” refers to those rights that are considered universal to humanity, regardless of citizenship, residency status, ethnicity, gender, or other considerations.”
What are human rights?
Every person has some rights, these rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.
According to the United Nations Human Rights, “Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law, general principles and other sources of international law. International human rights are based on the obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.”
Inalienable and Universal:
If we talk about the universality of human rights, then it is the cornerstone of international human rights law. This principle as first emphasized in the Universal Declaration on Human Right(1948), has been reiterated in numerous international human right conventions, declarations.
Human rights are also inalienable. Human rights should not be taken away, but in specific situations and according to due process are exceptions. I want to give a example- the right to liberty may be restrict, by a court of law if a person is found guilty of a crime
Indivisible And Interdependent:
We know that all human rights are indivisible, whether they are civil and political rights, like- the right to life, equality before the law and freedom of expression; economic, social and cultural rights, like- the rights to work, social security and education , or collective rights, like- the rights to development and self-determination, are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent.
Non-discriminatory And Equal:
In international human rights law, discrimination is a cross-cutting principle. The principle is present in all the major human rights treaties and provides the central theme of some of international human rights conventions like the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of racial discrimination and the convention on the Elimination of assll Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Both Rights and Obligations:
Both rights and obligations are entail human rights. States assume duties and obligations under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfill human rights. The obligation to respect means that States must refrain from curtailing or interfering with the enjoyment of human rights. The obligation to protect requires States to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses. The obligation should be fulfilled that means the States must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights. At the individual level, while we are entitled our human rights, we should also respect the human rights of others.<href=”#_ftn2″ name=”_ftnref2″ title=””>
From the international human rights law, we can know when the United Nations General Assembly adopted of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on 11 December 1948,the international human rights movement was strengthened.
The social contract was introduced by early modern thinkers—Hugo Grotus, Thomas Hobes, Samuel Pufendof, and Jon Loke the most well-known among them—as an account of two things: the historical origins of sovereign power and the moral origins of the principles that make sovereign power just and/or legitimate. Because of its’ presupposes the fundamental freedom and equality of all those entering into a political arrangement and the associated rights that follow from the principles of basic freedom and equality, it is often associated with the liberal tradition in political theory,
The concept of the social contract comes from Socrates. Plato described his theory like this-
“Then the laws will say: ‘Consider, Socrats, if we are speaking truly that in your present attempt you are going to do us an injury. For, having brought you into the world, and nurtured and educated you, and given you and every other citizen a share in every good which we had to give, we further proclaim to any Athenien by the liberty which we allow him, that if he does not like us when he has become of age and has seen the ways of the city, and made our acquaintance, he may go where he pleases and take his goods with him. Nobody of us laws will forbid him or interfere with him. Anyone who does not like us and the city, and who wants to emigrate to a colony or to any other city, may go where he likes, retaining his property. But he who has experience of the manner in which we order justice and administer the state, and still remains, has entered into an implied contract that he will do as we command him. And he who disobeys us is, as we maintain, three wrong;”<href=”#_ftn3″ name=”_ftnref3″ title=””>
Basically social contract theory follows from the principle of basic freedom and equality, but the idea’s genealogy originates as an alternative to critique the dominant theory of political legitimacy in medieval Europe. Prior to the work of Hobes, Groties, and Loke, the predominant view of political legitimacy drew on the patriarchal power of fathers over their children, going all the way back to the power granted by God to Adam. When Adam died, his eldest descendant inherited his authority by primogeniture. As ensuing generations were born, power continued to be passed on in this manner, from each head of household to his eldest descendant. Eventually, peoples divided and nations were formed, but all power continued to be derived from God and the principle primogeniture remained the standard by which sovereign power could be deemed legitimate.
The first modern philosopher to articulate a detailed contract theory was Thomas Hobes (1588–1679). According to Hobes, the lives of individuals in the state of nature were “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”, a state in which self-interest and the absence of rights and contracts prevented the ‘social’, or society. Without leadership or the concept of sovereignty, life was ‘anarchic’ Individuals in the state of nature were apolitical and asocial. And this state of nature is followed by the social contract.
The social contract was an ‘occurrence’ during which individuals came together and ceded some of their individual rights so that others would cede theirs (e.g. person A gives up his/her right to kill person B if person B does the same). This resulted in the establishment of the state, a sovereign entity like the individuals now under its rule used to be, which would create laws to regulate social interactions. So human life was thus no longer “a war of all against all”.
But the state system, without leadership which grew out of the social contract, was also anarchic with respect to each other. Just as the individuals in the state of nature had been sovereigns and thus guided by self-interest and the absence of rights, so states now acted in their self-interest in competition with each other. Just like the state of nature, states were thus bound to be in conflict because there was no sovereign over and above the state (i.e. more powerful) capable of imposing social-contract laws.
Because of its’ reconciles the power of the state with the freedom and equality of each associate, the social contract offers an appealing justification of political power. For this reason, some have asked whether the social contract could be generalized beyond relations between the citizens of a single state to relations among states. According to my study I found that Rouseau argues that states, like individuals, have an incentive to enter into a contractual relationship when there is “no common and constant rule for judging” the claims made by one against another. Rouseau calls this contract a confederation, in which each party relinquishes any aspiration it may have for conquest in exchange for a guarantee that they will not be attacked by any of the contracting parties: “it is good for [the Powers of Europe] to renounce what they desire in order to secure what they possess.”<href=”#_ftn6″ name=”_ftnref6″ title=””>
Social contract and Human rights in Bangladesh:
All of these social contracts are well established in the developed countries and many developing countries. But in our country these social contracts are not practice regularly. In Bangladesh the human rights of people is not so normal. People suffer much in our country for many reasons, but they don’t get their rights. If we look at our past, we can see that in 2005, Bangladesh experienced an unprecedented period of continuous like political instability.. and on August 17, 2005, four hundred bombs exploded in all but one of the nation’s sixty-four districts. So Bangladesh’s already questionable human rights has deterirated, for the result of this instability and its national security repercussions, Extrajudicial killings, Torture, Women’s rights, Freedom of religion, Intimidation of human rights defenders, journalists, and the opposition, AIDS and homosexuality in Bangladesh; all of this are growing day by day. There are many cases about the violence of human rights, here I am presenting one of the most well known story-
In Jhalkathi district, on August 14, 2012 police of Rajapur Police Station submitted a final report on the case filed by Limon Hossain’s mother against RAB for shooting Limon. Six members of RAB, including the Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) of RAB-8, Md. Lutfar Rahman; Corporal; Constable and some of them had been recomended to be acquitted from the allegation of attempt to murder in the final report.On March 23, 2011, Limon Hossain (16), his father is a daylabourer, of Saturia village at Rajapur Upazila in Jhalokathi, and he was a HSC examinee, was returning home, when a team of RAB-8 led by Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) Mohammad Lutfar Rahman, caught him and asked about his identity. Although Limon replied that he was a student, but still RAB members shot his left leg. Then on April 10, 2011 Limon’s mother, filled a case in Jhalokathi at the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, not being able to file a case with the police station. The investigating officer, Sub Inspector of Raepur Police Station submitted a final report without informing the plaintiff after 13 months and 10 days,. Then on the day of Eid ,on August 20, 2012, Limon, his mother and brother Samol were attacked by a RAB informer, ‘Leader Ibrahim’ near Raepur Idorbari Bridge . And after then,on August 23, 2012 Ibrahim Hawlader filed a murder case against Limon and his family members.This story is running, and still Limon doesn’t get the justice.
From this, everybody can understand where we are and our human rights in Bangladesh. Now we have to do for establish our human rights. Everybody should be understand that we are human and all of us are equal. At the end, I want to say that government should take proper steps against the violence of human rights.
1. Head, T. (n.d.). Human Rights. Civil liberties .
2. United Nations Human Rights. (1996-2013). USA: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
3. UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS (art. 1), adopted by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948.
4. J. W. Gough, The Social Contract (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936), pp. 2–3. Modern revivals of social contract theories have not been as concerned with the origin of the state.
5. Joseph Kary, “Contract Law and the Social Contract: What Legal History Can Teach Us About the Political Theory of Hobbes and Locke”, 31 Ottawa Law Review 73 (Jan. 2000)
6. Ross Harrison writes that “Hobbes seems to have invented this useful term.” See Ross Harrison, Locke, Hobbs, and Confusion’s Masterpiece (Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 70. The phrase “state of nature” does occur, in <href=”#History” title=”State of nature”>Thomas Aquinas’s Quaestiones disputatae de veritate, Question 19, Article 1, Answer 13
7. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Oeuvres complètes, ed. B. Gagnebin and M. Raymond (Paris, 1959–95), III, 361; The Collected Writings of Rousseau, ed. C. Kelley and R. Masters (Hanover, 1990-), IV, 139.
8. The daily Prothom Alo, 16/08/2012
9. The daily Manabzamin, 24/08/2012
See Head, T. (n.d.). Human Rights. Civil liberties .
United Nations Human Rights. (1996-2013). USA: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
<href=”#_ftnref3″ name=”_ftn3″ title=””> “For the name social contract (or original contract) often covers two different kinds of contract, and, in tracing the evolution of the theory, it is well to distinguish them. Both were current in the 17th century and both can be discovered in Greek political thought. … [The first] generally involved some theory of the origin of the state. The second form of social contract may be more accurately called the contract of government, or the contract of submission…. Generally, it has nothing to do with the origins of society, but, presupposing a society already formed, it purports to define the terms on which that society is to be governed: the people have made a contract with their ruler which determines their relations with him. They promise him obedience, while he promises his protection and good government. While he keeps his part of the bargain, they must keep theirs, but if he misgoverns the contract is broken and allegiance is at an end.” J. W. Gough, The Social Contract (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936), pp. 2–3. Modern revivals of social contract theories have not been as concerned with the origin of the state.
Joseph Kary, “Contract Law and the Social Contract: What Legal History Can Teach Us About the Political Theory of Hobbes and Locke”, 31 Ottawa Law Review 73 (Jan. 2000)
Ross Harrison writes that “Hobbes seems to have invented this useful term.” See Ross Harrison, Locke, Hobbs, and Confusion’s Masterpiece (Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 70. The phrase “state of nature” does occur, in <href=”#History” title=”State of nature”>Thomas Aquinas’s Quaestiones disputatae de veritate, Question 19, Article 1, Answer 13 . However Aquinas uses it in the context of a discussion of the nature of the soul after death, not in reference to politics.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Oeuvres complètes, ed. B. Gagnebin and M. Raymond (Paris, 1959–95), III, 361; The Collected Writings of Rousseau, ed. C. Kelley and R. Masters (Hanover, 1990-), IV, 139.
The daily Prothom Alo, 16/08/2012
The daily Manabzamin, 24/08/2012