National Human Rights Institutions - An efficient Tool to Implement Human Rights and thereby Preventing Conflicts?

University essay from Lunds universitet/Juridiska institutionen

Abstract: The thesis integrates three different areas namely conflict prevention, human rights and NHRIs. The underlying assumption, that it is possible to prevent conflicts by implementing human rights, will be challenged. Furthermore, the human rights protection and the existing human rights machinery will be explored. The purpose is to examine and analyze if NHRIs are an efficient tool to implement human rights and thereby preventing conflicts. The positive change which was expected when the Cold War ended has partly not occurred. The world today is neither a safer nor a better place to live in. International law and human rights have hardly been strengthened but rather neglected in a number of cases. The UN and the world have not been able to prevent new conflicts from arising. The conflicts are changing in character and new threats have emerged. The world is only partly adjusting and a common method for conflict prevention seems to be lacking in terms of adjusting to the new challenges. The thesis explores how these new conflicts should be prevented and how new threats should be reduced. The thesis focuses on the prevention of conflicts at a very early stage. A new culture of conflict prevention is developing where the root causes such as economic despair, social injustice and political oppression are addressed. Failure to protect human rights is often a root cause of a conflict and thus effective promotion and protection of human rights can be seen as a vital element of conflict prevention. The problem is that human rights are not being implemented. NHRIs are crucial in the work of implementing human rights. NHRIs are seen as a bridge between the local, the regional and the international levels. The thesis explores the institution and its role as well as different elements of importance for the efficiency of NHRIs. A new type of organized violence is emerging and can be described as a mixture of war, organized crime and massive human rights violations. The actors are both global and local, public and private. An informal criminalized economy is built into the functioning. Political leaders and international institutions have been helpless regarding the new conflicts emerging since they have not been able to come to terms with their logic. The new conflicts have been treated either as old wars or as anarchy. It is important to trace the shortcomings of inherited ways of perceiving the war and to set out the need for a new type of analysis in relation to political and military assumptions about why and how wars are fought. A new culture of conflict prevention is developing. It is crucial to know the causes of conflicts to be able to prevent disputes from arising and to prevent existing disputes from escalating. It is fundamental to address the deepest causes of conflicts such as economic despair, social injustice and political oppression. Negative peace is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for peace. Positive peace includes social justice and puts focus on the human being instead of the state. Positive peace is based on the abolition of structural violence. The human rights instruments give a good human rights protection if they are implemented. The role of Governments in the implementation of human rights is of great importance. Without the implementation at the national level, the international system for protection of human rights is of little use, except for highlighting states that misbehave. Each state must be responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights. It is crucial for a state, committed to human rights, to establish a national infrastructure, including institutions, that can promote and protect human rights. The problem of effective implementation at the national level has generated interest as well as action. All over the world NHRIs have been established, all with the same purpose, even though their task varies. The purpose, to promote and protect human rights. The NHRI extends over the traditional distinction between the state and the civil society combining a form of state approval with independence. NHRIs focus on promotional activities and on creating conditions for implementing human rights at the national level. This is very different from NGOs which traditionally focus on monitoring human rights violations. There are many questions to be asked regarding NHRIs. First of all, what is a NHRI actually and what is really the status of this institution? What institutions should in fact be allowed to call themselves NHRI and what does this imply? Most causes of conflicts or threats can be related to human rights in one way or another. Moving towards a culture of prevention, by establishing a culture of human rights implemented at the national level, is probably the most efficient way to prevent the conflicts of today and tomorrow. NHRIs must be seen as an essential tool in the implementation of human rights. Whether they are an efficient tool or not, in promoting and protecting human rights, is depending on its ability to be legitimate, accountable and accessible and whether the institution is truly independent or not. The independency is related to the institutions being qualified and diverse in their membership, adequately staffed and resourced as well as accessible to the public. Most of all the legitimacy, accountability and independence of the institution depend on establishing a strong loyalty to the civil society and the people as well as, meanwhile, maintaining effective access to government and judicial bodies. To be even more efficient in the future it is important to establish their genuine role and thereby give them a position as a strong actor in the human rights machinery.

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