Spinning Peace in Africa

Strengthening the Web of Relationships for Peace

Human Rights

The importance of Human Rights

Daily Life

Daily Life

A significant development in the modern-day state is the notion of the ‘Rule of Law”. This generally means that no-one is above the law. This emanates from the idea that the law is based on fundamental principles which can be discovered , but which cannot be created by an act of will.

Two of the most important sources of law in many countries are legislation and case law. If ambiguity or vagueness exists in either or both of these two important sources of law, then a state of general legal uncertainty prevails. Similarly, the larger a body of statute and case law becomes, the greater the potential for legal uncertainty should these not be consolidated, updated and easily accessible. In such circumstances, access to and knowledge of the law is effectively denied. Some inevitable consequences of this are the impeding of the administration of justice.

The Rule of Law preserves and protects the rights and property of individuals and corporations. It safeguards against arbitrary governance, dictatorship and mob rule and is central to the stability of government, the preservation of human rights and the economic and social development of society.

This framework of national legislation and case law is augmented and framed by an international human rights framework which calls for the respect of the inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms of each and every person, including the principles of the prohibition against arbitrary detention, the right to due process and other civil and political rights as well as social, cultural and economic rights.

International human rights law lays down obligations which States are bound to respect. By becoming parties to international treaties, States assume obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfill human rights.

  • The obligation to respect means that States must refrain from interfering with or curtailing the enjoyment of human rights.
  • The obligation to protect requires States to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses.
  • The obligation to fulfill means that States must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights.

Through ratification of international human rights treaties, Governments undertake to put into place domestic measures and legislation compatible with their treaty obligations and duties.

Universal human rights should be applied to all persons without distinction of any kind: we are all human beings, so we are all entitled to enjoy these rights.

“Human rights are what reason requires and conscience demands. They are us and we are them. Human rights are rights that any person has as a human being. We are all human beings; we are all deserving of human rights. One cannot be true without the other.”
Kofi Annan, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations

Click here for our Treasure Trove on Human Rights and other resources.

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Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation

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Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
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