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THE INTERCONNECTIVITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS
2012 PRAYGOD I MANASE

Introduction; The foundation documents of human rights law are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, 1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, 1966) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR, 1966), known collectively as the International Bill of Human Rights.1

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 consisted of both civil and political rights and social, economic and cultural rights; civil and political rights (Articles 1 to 21) and economic, social, and cultural rights (Articles 22 to 28). The Universal Declaration reflected the immediate post-war consensus about human rights based on what President Roosevelt described as four freedoms including the freedom from want which he wanted to be incorporated in an International Bill of Rights.2 In fact, when the universal declaration of human rights was discussed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 rights to economic social and cultural benefits were referred to as the most important attributes by which the declaration represented a degree of progress over previous declarations of
1

Rhons K. Smith, International Human Rights, Oxford University Press, 2nd Edition, (2005 ) pg

38
2

Arjun Sengupt, Right to Development as a Human Right, found at

http://www.harvardfxbcenter.org/resources/working-papers/FXBC_WP7--Sengupta.pdf on 5th Jan 2012.

a similar nature. The immediate historical context of this evolution was the experiences of social economic deprivation including the high rates of unemployment and rising poverty that resulted from the economic depression in Europe and the western hemisphere during the 1920 and 1930.3

In December 1966, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), in addition to the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration Human Rights again adopted two separate international human rights covenants, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) each dealing with the different regimes of human rights. The ICESCR was adopted to support the realization of economic, social and cultural rights while the ICCPR on the other hand was adopted to enhance the realization of civil and political rights.4

The decision to draft two separate treaties instead of a single composite instrument is largely a reflection of the perception developed during the drafting of the covenants that the two categories of rights were different in nature origin and significance. These differences were considered such that it would not be practical and certainly not politically acceptable for a single
3

Lalaine Sadiwa, Human Rights Theories And Practices, Summeries of Lectures, African

Human Rights Camp (1996), Mercuria Publishing cc 1997 pg 84.


4

Rhons K. Smith, International Human Rights, Oxford University Press, 2nd Edition, (2005 ) pg

38

treaty to be drafted containing all the rights found in the universal declaration of human rights.5

INTERCONNECTIVITY; At the time of the adoption of the universal declaration of human rights, there was no distinction between the two sets of rights. There was no ambiguity at that time about political and economic rights being interrelated and interdependent components of human rights, and no disagreement that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and

independence.6 The distinction came about later in the cold war which led to the setting of the two covenants.7 Though they were decisive at the time of drafting of the covenants, not only has it been asserted that the reasons which lead to the drafting of the two covenants were either mistaken or overstated, 8 but also literature showing that they are lesser differences between social economic rights and civil and political rights than is actually argued by opponents of

George William, Human Rights in Africa, Transnational Publishers 2003. Arjun Sengupt, Right to Development as a Human Right, found at

http://www.harvardfxbcenter.org/resources/working-papers/FXBC_WP7--Sengupta.pdf on 5th Jan 2012


7

George William, Human Rights in Africa, Transnational Publishers 2003. Mashood Baderin et al (edt), Economic Social And Cultural Rights In Action, Oxford University

Press (2007) pg12

economic, social and cultural rights grown, hence receiving more attention and recognition.9

The relationship between the two covenants can be manifested firstly by the wording, structure and spirit of the universal declaration of human rights. The Declaration as a whole confirms that the authors wished to give equal weight to these two categories of rights. They envisioned a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want.10 This relationship can also be discerned from the fact that the two

covenants have enumerated various civil and political rights and economic social and cultural rights which are virtually identical. Preambles from both covenants recognize that these rights derive from the inherent dignity of human persons.11 The General Assembly itself emphasized as early as in 1950 that economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights are interconnected and

Danwood Mzikenge Chirwa, Towards Binding Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Obligations of Non-State Actors in International and Domestic; Thesis Submitted in Full Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor Legum ,Stellenbosch University ( 2005).
10

Human Rights in the Administration of Justice: A Manual on Human Rights for Judges,

Prosecutors and Lawyers found at http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/training9chapter14en.pdf on 23rd Dec 2011


11

Argawal, H. International Law and Human Rights, Central Law Publications, 16th Edition

(2009) pg 774

interdependent,12

the general assembly resolved that when deprived of

economic social and cultural rights man does not present the human person whom the universal declaration regards the ideal of a free man a view subsequently confirmed in the third preambular paragraph of both the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.13 Further, the international conference on human rights held in Tehran in 1968, also declared that since all human rights are fundamental the full realization of civil and political rights without the enjoyment of economic social and cultural rights is impossible.14 This was further reiterated in 1977 in a resolution which stated that all human rights and fundamental freedoms are indivisible and interdependent and equal attention and urgent consideration should be given to the implementation, promotion, protection of both civil and political rights. It further commented that the full realization of civil and political rights without the enjoyment of social economic and cultural rights is impossible.15
12

General Assembly Resolution 421(V), 4 Dec 1950. In the third preambular paragraph of the former, the States parties recognize that, in

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accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights.
14

Argawal, H. International Law and Human Rights, Central Law Publications, 16th Edition

(2009) pg 733
15

General assembly Resolution 32/130, 1977

The Vienna Declaration of 1993 by the World Conference on Human Rights, as regards the interconnectivity of human rights clearly stipulated that all

human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated and that the international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis and that it is the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.16

These resolutions and declarations are supported by a wide range of literature as well as national practice. Mathew craven (1998) who classifies the

justification of social economic rights into two among them is that social economic rights sets the conditions for the full enjoyment of civil and political rights such that the ideals of freedom or moral autonomy can only be made meaningful if the individual also enjoys a certain degree of material security.17

James Nickel (2007) refers to some linkage arguments advocated by Henry Shue, he explains the arguments by Henry Shue simply as meaning that protection for subsistence (social rights), such as health care,

without the

education people in poverty will always be marginal right holders. They will be unlikely to know what rights they have or make hard to protect and their
16

paragraph 5 of part I of the Vienna Declaration, (1993) Mathew Craven, The ICESCR; A Perspective in its Development, Clarendon Press Oxford,

17

(1998)

extreme need and vulnerability will make them hard to protect through social and political action. He concludes by saying that if you want people to be capable right holders who can effectively exercise, benefit from and protect their rights then you must ensure their enjoyment of their basic social rights.18 Jack Donnely, (1998) writes that approaching the question of social economic rights is to ask what life with only civil and political rights would look like. He further says without minimum economic and social guarantees a life of dignity is clearly impossible, especially in modern market economies. He stresses on the importance of a safety net of economic and social rights for the deserving poor. He concludes that there are of course some differences between the two categories of rights but comments that there are no less important differences within each broad class of rights as well as important similarities between the classes.19

Further, H .Argawal (2009) asserts that human rights are indivisible and interdependent, and therefore there cannot exist different kinds of human rights. He further says all human rights are equal in importance and are inherent in all human beings and therefore the universal declaration of human rights did not categorize the different kinds of human rights but simply enumerated them into different articles.20
18

James W. Nickel, Making Sense of Human Rights, 2nd edition Blackwell publishing (2007) Jack Donnely, International Human Rights, Westview Press, Second Edition, (1998) pg 26. Argawal, H. International Law and Human Rights, Central Law Publications, 16th Edition

19

20

(2009) pg 732

Morton Winston bases his arguments on the historical evolvement and rationale of human rights, he argues that human rights contained in the contemporary canon are interdependent and indivisible since human rights form a system of norms which functions to protect human dignity by thwarting systems of oppression. He further explains that though they have individual and particular justifications in themselves, they form a unity because the techniques of repression which they are designed to combat also form a unity as parts of systems of oppression. He concludes that to declare that certain rights are non-binding, or optional, or even "unreal" or to declare that certain categories of human right "dont apply" to societies is tantamount to allowing oppression to proceed by other means.21 Similarly, Mathew Graven (1998), after analyzing the various arguments against social economic rights draws the conclusion that there is not any convincing argument either for denying or the status of human rights or for maintaining absolute distinction between them and civil and political rights, he further says that some differences may be identified in terms of historical recognition, philosophical justification or emphasis in implementation but rarely in any coherent and categorical manner.22

21

Morton Winston, On the Indivisibility and Interdependence of Human Rights, () found at

http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Huma/HumaWins.htm on 5th Jan 2012.

22

Mathew Craven, The ICESCR; A Perspective in its Development, Clarendon Press Oxford,

1998

Apart from the foregoing, the principle of the interdependence and indivisibility of all human rights has become solidly entrenched in the jurisprudence of municipal courts, regional and international judicial and quasijudicial human rights bodies. For example, the European Court of Human Rights held in paragraph 26 of the October 9, 1979 decision in Airey v. Ireland23 that there is no water-tight division between civil and political and economic, social and cultural rights. At the domestic level, these rights are
increasing to gain constitutional protection. In Africa, for example, most Constitutions adopted after 1989 have entrenched economic, social and cultural rights alongside civil and political rights in their bills of rights. The South African Constitutional Court, in particular, has delivered several decisions on economic, social and cultural rights underscoring the point that these rights are no different from enforcement.24 civil and political rights and are as well capable of judicial

Generally as it can be observed, it is undisputed that the attitude towards social economic rights has changed significantly since the end of the cold war.
23

Airey v Ireland 32 Eur Ct HR Ser A (1979): [1979] 2 E.H.R.R. 305. (This case has been frequently cited as a precedent for demonstrating there are economic and social rights dimensions within civil and political rights and that States may have positive obligations with respect to civil and political rights and hence impossible to clearly demarcate the two sets of rights.

24

Danwood Mzikenge Chirwa, Towards Binding Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Obligations of Non-State Actors in International and Domestic; Thesis Submitted in Full Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor Legum ,Stellenbosch University ( 2005).

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At the international level serious consideration has been given to boosting the monitoring mechanisms of this set of rights such that there now exists several regional and international instruments recognizing or moving closely towards recognizing the justiciability of these rights.25 This consensus on the indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights belies the historical preeminence accorded to Civil and Political rights over ESC rights based on cold war-related ideological quibbles as well as the now discredited conceptual arguments which sought to show Civil and Political

rights as being in a qualitatively different category from Economic Social and Cultural rights.
26

This relegation of ESC rights denied many an important, rights-based platform to challenge the terrible social and economic conditions to which they are subjected. However,today it is clear from both the global human rights system formulated as long ago as 1948 with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other sources such as litearture, international and national practice that the indivisibility and interdependence of civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights are fundamental tenets of international human rights law.27 Hence the issue is no longer whether ESC
25

Ibid. Economic Social and Cultural Rights, Frontline Online Manual found at

26

http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/book/export/html/12784 on 27 Dec 2011


27

Fact Sheet No.16 (Rev.1), The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights found at

http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/FactSheet16rev.1en.pdf on 5th Jan 2012.

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rights are valid human rights but rather how they may be usefully, effectively and practically translated to the benefit of humankind, particularly those that are worse off socially and economically.28

BIBLIOGRAPHY; I. BOOKS; Argawal, H. International Law and Human Rights, Central Law Publications, 16th Edition (2009) George William, Human rights in Africa, Transnational Publishers 2003. James W. Nickel, Making Sense of Human Rights, 2nd edition Blackwell publishing (2007) Jack Donnely, International Human Rights, Westview Press, Second Edition, (1998) Lalaine Sadiwa, Human Rights Theories and Practices, Summeries of Lectures, African Human Rights Camp (1996), Mercuria Publishing cc 1997 Mashood Baderin et al (edt), Economic Social And Cultural Rights In Action, Oxford University Press (2007) Mathew Craven, The ICESCR; A Perspective in its Development, Clarendon Press Oxford, (1998)

28

Supra note. 25

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Rhons K. Smith, International Human Rights, Oxford University Press, 2nd Edition, (2005 ) II. ARTICLES; Arjun Sengupt, Right to Development as a Human Right, found at http://www.harvardfxbcenter.org/resources/working-papers/FXBC_WP7-Sengupta.pdf on 5th Jan 2012. Human Rights in the Administration of Justice: A Manual on Human Rights for Judges, Prosecutors and Lawyers found at http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/training9chapter14en.pdf on 23rd Dec 2011 Morton Winston, On the Indivisibility and Interdependence of Human Rights, found at http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Huma/HumaWins.htm on 5th Jan 2012. Economic Social and Cultural Rights, Frontline Online Manual found at http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/book/export/html/12784 on 27 Dec 2011

Danwood Mzikenge Chirwa, Towards Binding Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Obligations of Non-State Actors in International and Domestic; Thesis Submitted in Full Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor Legum ,Stellenbosch University ( 2005).

III.RESOLUTUIONS; General Assembly Resolution 32/130, 1977


13

General Assembly Resolution 421(V), 4 Dec 1950. The Vienna Declaration, (1993)

CASES; Airey v Ireland 32 Eur Ct HR Ser A (1979): [1979] 2 E.H.R.R. 305

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