The Constitution and human rights protection


 Mirzatillo TILLABAEV*

The year 2013 is important in that it marks the 65th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which expresses as “a com­mon standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations,” sets out a wide span of rights covering all aspects of life. It is also the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA) and the Paris Principles relating to the status and functioning of national institutions for the protection and promotion of human rights (Paris Principles) by the United Nations General Assembly.

It was in 1993, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action was adopted by consensus after an extensive participatory process. It marks a significant paradigm shift in the manner in which the international community and the United Nations address human rights. The VDPA provides a relevant universal standard of human rights enshrining the principles that all human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated. The VDPA requires that the international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis. It states that “while the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, it is the duty of states, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.[1]

The VDPA draws a direct connection between respect for human right, democracy and international development being interdependent and mutually reinforcing. It addresses many issues on the human rights agenda such as the right to development, racism and racial discrimination, human rights of women, minorities, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, migrant workers, the right to remedies, human rights education, the rights of the child, torture, enforced disappearances, and economic social and cultural rights.

The VDPA is also important in that it requires that the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms must be considered as a priority objective of the United Nations and recommends the establishment of a High Commissioner for Human Rights for the promotion and protection of all human rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948[2] as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected. At present, the Declaration was published in more than 414 languages any instrument in the world is translated into a number of languages a testament to its universal nature and reach.

The UDHR enshrines universal rights that apply to all humans equally, whichever geographical location, state, race or culture they belong to. However, in academia there is a dispute between scholars that advocate moral relativism and scholars that advocate moral universalism. Relativists do not argue against human rights, but concede that human rights are social constructed and are shaped by cultural and environmental contexts. Universalisms argue that human rights have always existed, and apply to all people regardless of culture, race, sex, or religion.

The Universal Declaration was bifurcated into treaties, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the other on social, economic, and cultural rights, due to questions about the relevance and propriety of economic and social provisions in covenants on human rights. Both covenants begin with the right of people to self-determination and to sovereignty over their natural resources.[3]

Not all nation states have codified constitutions, though all such states have a jus commune, or law of the land, that may consist of a variety of imperative and consensual rules. These may include customary lawconventionsstatutory lawjudge-made law or international rules and norms. Human rights or civil liberties form a crucial part of a country's constitution and govern the rights of the individual against the state.

Most jurisdictions, like the United States and France, have a codified constitution, with a bill of rights. A recent example is the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union which was included in the Lisbon Treaty for Europe Union. Perhaps, the most important example is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights under the UN Charter. These are intended to ensure basic political, social and economic standards that a nation state, or intergovernmental body is obliged to provide to its citizens but many do include its governments. Some countries like the United Kingdom have no entrenched document setting out fundamental rights; in those jurisdictions the constitution is composed of statutecase law and convention.

The Separation of Powers is often regarded as a second limb functioning alongside the Rule of Law to curb the powers of the Government. In most modern nation states, power is divided and vested into three branches of government: The Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The first and the second are harmonized in traditional Westminster forms of government.

Human rights are commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being. Human rights are thus conceived as universal (applicable everywhere) and egalitarian (the same for everyone). These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in local, regional, national, and international law.[4]

The doctrine of human rights in international practice, within international law, global and regional institutions, in the policies of states and in the activities of non-governmental organizations, has been a cornerstone of public policy around the world. The idea of human rights states, if the public discourse of peacetime global society can be said to have a common moral language, it is that of human rights. Despite this, the strong claims made by the doctrine of human rights continue to provoke considerable scepticism and debates about the content, nature and justifications of human rights to this day. Indeed, the question of what is meant by a right is itself controversial and the subject of continued philosophical debate.[5]

The United Nations (UN) recognizes the important role played by regional human rights arrangements[6] in the promotion and protection of human rights. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, endorses efforts to strengthen and increase the effectiveness of these arrangements while at the same time stresses the importance of their cooperation with the UN human rights system. This has been reconfirmed by the UN General Assembly in several of its resolutions requesting the Secretary-General to continue to strengthen the exchanges between the UN and regional inter-governmental organizations dealing with human rights.[7]

The Constitution of sovereign Uzbekistan has laid the legal basis for the formation of a democratic political and legal systems. It consolidated the priority of rights, interests and freedoms of the public interest and became the legal basis of the Uzbek model of independent development.

The Constitution enshrines the principles of the rule of law and separation of powers into legislative, executive and judicial. Ongoing judicial reforms are aimed at the consistent implementation of the constitutional principle of separation of powers, among them the is creation of an effective system of checks and balances.

Article 18 of the Constitution of Uzbekistan states that everyone is equal before the law and the courts. The constitutional principle of equality before the law fully complies with Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which proclaims that all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. The above-mentioned principle is also fully consistent with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 2), joined by the Republic of Uzbekistan.

A solid legal basis for the protection of human rights and freedoms has been formed. The Uzbek Parliament has adopted 7 constitutional laws, 15 codes, over 600 laws, ratified more than 200 multilateral treaties.

At present there are all grounds to assert that Uzbekistan has achieved the main result – the process of reforming and democratisation has got irrevocable, irreversible and consecutive character. Owing to what the person varies, his/her political and civil activity, his consciousness, participation in everything that occurs round it, and, at last, his belief in the country’s future grows. The person turns into an active creative participant of democratic transformations in all spheres of social-political life.

As the President of Uzbekistan I.Karimov emphasized “However, what we have achieved is just a part of a long and difficult road to the goal that we have set forward – to build an open democratic and law-governed state with a stably developing economy and the society respected in the world, in which a man, his interests, his rights and freedoms are the highest value not in words, but in practice.[8]

The concept of the President of Uzbekistan highlights the need for development of legislation, adoption of 50 laws, and today a number of laws, including changes to the Constitution have been adopted to prove strengthening the role of Parliament and the political parties, the establishment of the institution to vote for confidence in the Government.

In modern world, the strengthening of international cooperation in the field of human rights is essential for the full achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals. Moreover, promotion and protection of human rights should be based on the principle of cooperation and genuine dialogue in order to enhance the capacity of states to fulfill their obligations in the field of human rights for all people.[9]

Uzbekistan supports the UN Global Plan of Action to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals,[10] in the implementation of which it has been very active. In January 2011, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted a special Resolution “On additional measures to implement the UN Millennium Development Goals in Uzbekistan.” In order to implement the additional measures to gradually increase the level and quality of life in line with the MDGs in Uzbekistan a comprehensive program of action and an annual hearing by the Legislative Chamber of Parliament of information of the Government is planned.

Thus, implementation of human rights is an important and significant prerequisite to improving the quality of life of the population.

* Mirzatillo Tillabaev First deputy director of the Lawyers’ Training Center under the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan, PhD in International Law.

[1] The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights on June 25, l993.

[2] See: General Assembly Resolution 217 A (III) 

[3] Henkin, Louis. The International Bill of Rights: The Universal Declaration and the Covenants, in International Enforcement of Human Rights 6-9, Bernhardt and Jolowicz, eds, (1987).

[4] Beitz, Charles R. (2009). The idea of human rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[5] Shaw, Malcolm (2008). International Law (6th ed.). Leiden: Cambridge University Press.

[6] For this concept note “Regional human rights arrangements/ regional human rights mechanisms” includes subregional and interregional human rights mechanisms.

[7] For example: GA resolutions (A/RES/32/127) and (A/RES/63/170).

[8] I. Karimov. The Concept of further deepening the democratic reforms and establishing the civil society in the country. Tashkent, 2010. P. 4.

[9] Resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 2012. 67/169. Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights.

[10] The UN Global Plan of Action to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.

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