Human Rights Legal Studies Essay

The Concept of Human Rights Human rights are recognized globally meaning that they apply equally to all people in all parts of the world. Various types of human rights have been the focus of many treaties and have been incorporated into the constitutions of many countries. According to the basis of human rights all persons are considered equals and are therefore equally deserving of respect and righteous treatment.

Human rights and this statement have been fought over for a number of centuries yet were only recognized on a global scale in 1945 when they were included in the United Nations charter and in some cases only when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was written. The UDHR outlines the fundamental rights that can be claimed by all people of the world and includes rights such as the right to life, liberty and security. Human rights are not easy to protect and violations of human rights are also hard to investigate and punish.

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Everyday human rights are violated in some way and these treaties and laws often seem pointless when it is difficult to identify these violations. It is often argued that human rights cannot work in some countries or states, especially those in states of civil war and in countries that are still developing. However human rights violations are taken quite seriously and are punished harshly, examples of these violations include genocide which in some cases has resulted in the death penalty being imposed on the offenders.

How are Human Rights Protected In The US In the US human rights are protected by a number of documents most importantly the US Bill of Rights. Decades before the Bill of rights the US was under the rule of Britain until it presented the US declaration of independence in 1776. The declaration of independence essentially declared war against the British government in order for the US to gain its freedom. Along with declaring war the document focused heavily on declaring the rights that the US believed all should be entitled to, namely the right to be free.

The most important proclamation in the declaration was written by Thomas Jefferson who stated that ‘all men are created equal’ this statement formed the basis of the United States campaign to freedom. The next document to follow was the US constitution which would unite the existing 13 states and create the United States of America. In 1791 the Constitution would be amended. To begin with, ten amendments were made to the constitution creating the Bill of Rights.

These amendments were added in order for the rights of the citizens to be better protected and to prevent future governments violating these rights. These amendments include the right to Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and Petition and the right to bear arms. The right to bear arms allows citizens to raise a militia in the event of a future government becoming too powerful and attempting to infringe the rights of the people in some way.

After 1791 and up until now a further seventeen amendments have been encompassed into the constitution all of which further protect the rights of US citizens. Amendment thirteen is one of the most well known amendments which incited the abolition of slavery from the US and freed African American slaves from their owners and returning them the rights that they were entitled to. In the United States the rights of its citizens are so well protected within their Bill of Rights that it would be virtually impossible for a breach of any of its citizen’s human rights to occur.

All of the amendments to the US Bill of rights ensure that its citizens receive the freedom and treatment they are entitled to without any loopholes or possibilities of violations occurring. How are Human Rights Protected In Australia Unlike the United States and many other countries Australia does not have a Bill of Rights. However this does not mean that the rights of its people are not protected. Some of our rights have been enshrined in our constitution and are well protected these include freedom of religion, speech and the right to freedom.

Other rights are protected by the common law system an example of this is the presumption of innocence. International law also plays its, part in creating common law which protects the rights of Australia’s people. For example, after the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965), the Australian government implemented the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cwlth) to better protect the rights of its citizens from being violated as a result of their race, culture or beliefs.

Australia is a key player and leader in international human rights and is quite often amongst the first to sign treaties relating to and further protecting human rights. Once Australia signs a treaty or declaration it must be incorporated into statute law in order for it to actually protect particular rights of its citizens for example when Australia became a signatory of the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child (1989) parts of it were incorporated into family law. Australia takes great measures to ensure human rights laws and regulations are abided by.

The establishment of tribunals to assist in law enforcement signifies a more serious approach to human rights violations with the conduction of investigations indicating the importance the Australian government places in protecting the rights of its’ citizens. | Does Australia need its own bill of rights? There are many people that believe that the rights of Australians are not adequately protected and who believe that just like the United States we should have our own Bill of Rights. An Australia Bill of Rights would state the basic rights that each and every Australian is entitled to.

Many of those in favour of a bill of right argue that it is needed and would guarantee that the government provides fundamental rights to all individuals. Another advantage of a bill of rights would be the greater protection and equal treatment given to minority or disadvantaged groups and it would allow for these groups to seek justice if their rights were to be infringed. A bill of rights would also a greater culture of respect for human rights and would make it much easier to educate citizens about the rights that they are entitled to thus preventing their rights being abused without their knowledge.

Finally, if Australia were to create a bill of rights it would show its commitment to ensuring that human rights are sufficiently protected and would re-enforce and well and truly ratify the treaties and declarations it has signed by adding them into the bill of rights. This would also stop the criticisms from the United Nations Human Rights Committee that Australia is failing to meet its obligations by not having a bill of rights and not providing an effective remedy to persons whose rights have been violated.

However in contrast to the above statements there are also many arguments opposed to Australia having its own Bill of Rights. Firstly the most common argument against a Bill of Rights is of course the belief held by some that the rights of all Australians are already sufficiently protected in our constitution and in common and statute law and thus there is no need for a Bill of Rights. Why should we change something that has worked well for so long? Our rights have never been violated on a large scale and probably never will so there is no need to protect something which we don’t have to fear.

Also by creating a bill of rights the power to make legislation would be transferred from parliamentarians who were elected by the people to unelected judges therefore giving the public a less significant say in what legislation is created and which rights are protected. Another common argument is that if we were to create a Bill of Rights it could actually restrict rights and clog up the legal system by freezing the rights we have and making them difficult to modify and also virtually impossible to make additions to.

This would develop into a great problem as community values and beliefs change overtime. “The political system itself is the best protection of rights in Australia” and many believe that this is the best approach. Bibliography Cambridge Legal studies HSC (Text you gave us. Not sure of authors, publishing dates etc. ) arts. anu. edu. au/democraticaudit/papers/200403_williams_bor. rtf (Downloaded 12. 03. 10) http://www. jcs. act. gov. au/prd/rights/arguments. html (visited 15th & 17th of march) http://www. en. articlesgratuits. com/definition-of-human-rights-id5399. hp (visited 12th & 15th of March) http://www. ratical. com/co-globalize/BillOfRights. html (visited 12th of March) http://filipspagnoli. wordpress. com/2008/04/03/why-are-human-rights-so-important-or-why-do-we-need-human-rights/ (visited 14th & 15th of March) http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Human_rights (visited 12 of March) http://usconstitution. net/const. html (visited 14th & 15th of March) http://www. lawfoundation. net. au/ljf/app/&id=9CB5AFA66DE49D82CA2571A9000C12FB (visited 12, 15 & 17th of March)


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