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MINORITIES: Guiding Questions:

1. What are Human Rights?


2. Who is responsible for protecting/enforcing Human Rights?
3. Are Human Rights universal?
4. What are minorities’ rights?
5. What are the main principles established in the Declaration on the Rights of Persons
Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities in order to protect
those minorities?
6. What is multiculturalism about?
7. What are the main arguments in favor/against multiculturalism?
8. As a policy or set of policies: has multiculturalism succeeded or failed?
9. What are the differences between assimilation, multiculturalism and interculturalism?
10. What are the main forms of discrimination against women identified in the Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women? What do the States
pledge to do in order to overcome such discrimination?
11. What were the core 12 critical areas on gender issues identified in the Beijing platform
for Action?
12. - Are they still relevant?
- In the ‘developed’ world?
- In the ‘developing world’?
13. What is the approach to gender inequality like, in the SDG?
14. On the basis of cultural relativism, is it legal to discriminate against LGBT people?
Why?
1. What are Human Rights
 Definition:

Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, without discrimination based on our
nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any
other status. These rights are all inter-connected, dependent on one another and indivisible.
Human rights such as the right to life, equality before the law and freedom of expression;
economic, social and cultural rights, the rights to work, social security and education , or
collective rights, etc are inter-related and inter-dependent. Human rights are the basic rights
and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth until death. They apply
regardless of where you are from, what you believe or how you choose to live your life.They
can never be taken away, although they can sometimes be restricted.These basic rights are
based on shared values like dignity, fairness, equality, respect and independence. These values
are defined and protected by law. Human rights are relevant to all of us, not just those who
face repression or mistreatment. They protect you in many areas of your day-to-day life,
including:your right to have and express your own opinions, your right to an education, your
right to a private and family life, your right not to be mistreated or wrongly punished by the
state Human rights as a concept has two accepted meanings:

First to represent a special category of moral claim (cereri morale) that all
humans can invoke and request. The origin of "human rights" lies in the nature of the
human being itself (originea drepturilor omului sta in natura umana in sine, ca om ai
drept la viata). These basic human rights have been mentioned in all the world's major
religions and moral philosophy.
The second meaning is “human rights law”; this is the exercise (iti excerciti
drepturile => iti ceri drepturile, adica drepturile tale ca om trebuie puse in lege) of
these rights in accordance with the law. For example if a person has the right to
freedom, than that freedom must be defined into a specific law. Governments are held
accountable (sunt trase la raspundere) based on the laws in their constitution in
national legal processes. If a Government does not respect the human rights
mentioned in its constitution for its citizens, It can be sued (guvernul poate fi dat in
judecata) based on the human rights laws in its constitution. “Human rights law”
(drepturilor omului – ca legi) is a recent concept that is closely associated with the rise
of the liberal democratic State. (Drepturile umane, scrise in lege e un fenoment ce e
asociat cu nasterea statelor democratice in secolul XX: 1900-2000). Even in the
democratic states, the majority often disregards (da la o parte/ nu iau in considerare)
“numerical” minorities (linguistic, ethnic, indigenous groups), thus it is necessary to
guarantee the existence and rights of numerical minorities. To ensure the rights of
minorities, governments specifically write rules (bill of rights containing basic human
rights for all) in their constitution, which help to govern society peacefully.
If we look back in history we see that States, most of the time, do not generally grant rights
willingly (de buna voie). Human rights are only secured, ensured and ultimately enforced
through a long struggle against absolute authority.

When discussing about human rights through history there are three categories (generations)
of human rights. These categorization were born in the 18th (1700 - 1800) and 19th (1800 -
1900) centuries. The French Revolution and the French Enlightenment Period (Iluminismul
Francez) gave birth to three categories of human rights.
 Three generations of Human Rights (categories)

 Liberté (freedoms, "civil and political" or "first generation" rights).


They address issues of liberty and participation in political life. First-
generation rights include the right to life, equality before the law, freedom of
speech, the right to a fair trial, freedom of religion, and voting rights. They
were pioneered by the United States Bill of Rights and in France by the
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in the 18th century. During
the period of the cold war, "first generation" (civil-political) rights were
prioritized in Western (capitalist) democracies, while the second generation
rights (socio-economic) were not awarded the same importance, as they were
associated with socialism movements. The first generation rights were said to
be of immediate application, while "second generation” ones were to be
implemented only in the long term or progressively. After the fall of the Berlin
Wall and the fall of Communism, it became generally accepted that both first
and second generation rights have the same importance and are inter-
connected.

 Egalité (equality, "socio-economic" or "second generation" rights).


Second-generation human rights are related to equality and began to be
recognized by governments after World War War 2. Secondary rights would
include a right to be employed, rights to food, housing and health care, as
well as social security and unemployment benefits. Like first-generation
rights, they were also covered by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural
Rights.These rights impose obligation on the government to respect and
promote and fulfill them, but this depends on the availability of resources.

 Fraternité (solidarity, "collective" or "third generation" rights).


Third-generation human rights are those rights that go beyond civil and social.
The term "third-generation human rights" remains largely unofficial and it
contains a large variety of rights, including: Group and collective rights, Right
to economic and social development, Right to a healthy environment, Right
to natural resources, Right to communicate and many more. They are also
called green rights, in their relation to environmentalism. Some international
organizations have offices to protect such rights. An example is the High
Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organization for Security and
Co-operation in Europe. The Directorate-General for the Environment of the
European Commission has as its mission "protecting, preserving and
improving the environment for present and future generations, and
promoting sustainable development".

Legal Conventions and documents:

 United Nations Charter (1945)


The first international human right agreements appeared only around the 1920s, after the First
World War (1914-1918) under the organization of the League of Nations. (Dupa primul razboi
mondial au create o organizatie pentru protectia drepturilor, inainte the ONU – Org Natiunilor
Unite). It was not very successful and it was this attempt ended as the Second World War
(1939-1945) began. After the Second World War ended, and as a response to Hitler’s racial
atrocities towards Jews, Gypsies, Polish People, etc. the United Nations (org formed after the
Second World War) adopted the UN Charter in 1945. This Charter was a commitment
(angajament) to respect and uphold (sa sustina) human rights of citizens. Through this charter,
the UN and its member’s states attempt to achieve higher standards of living, by addressing
social, economic and health related issues and to respect, protect and enforce human rights
and fundamental freedoms for all people without sex, racial language, or religious distinction.
50 of the 51 members of the UN signed the declaration in San Francisco in 1945. (at that time).
The Charter contains not only the human legal rights but also additional chapters that describe
the legal context in which human legal rights will be respected and protected. It describes how
the different institutions that protect human rights should work, such as the International
Court of Justice and the United Nations Secretariat; The Security Council's role and the power
it has to investigate and mediate disputes, etc.

 The International Bill of Human Rights: the Declaration (1948) and the 2 Covenants:

The International Bill of Human Rights was the name given to UN General Assembly
Resolution number 217 and 2 additional international treaties established by the United
Nations. The International Bill (Bill = lege) of Human Rights consists of three elements:

o The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948 – also known as Resolution number
217):
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an important document that was
adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 as
Resolution 217 in Paris, France. The Declaration consists of 30 articles defining
an individual's rights. It is not considered an actual international law with legal
implications but simply a declaration to define and state human rights. The
1968 United Nations International Conference on Human Rights stated that
the Declaration "constitutes an obligation for the members of the
international community" to all persons.
o International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

It is treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December


1966, and came into application from 3 January 1976. It obligates its
signatories (semnatari) to work towards granting economic, social, and cultural
rights to individuals, including labor rights and the right to health, the right to
education, and the right to an adequate standard of living. It contains articles
relating to right of people to work only under correct conditions, rights to
social security including social insurance (pensii, somaj), rights to health,
education. It also includes guidelines how to implement the rights for each
state as well as the International institutions that guarantee and verify if the
rights are applied. As of September 2018, the Covenant has 169 parties. The
Covenant is monitored by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights.

o International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

It is a treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December


1966, and in application from 23 March 1976. The covenant asks its parties to
respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life,
freedom of religion, freedom of speech, electoral rights and rights to a fair
trial. It contains articles relating to right of people to “determine their political
status”, rights to liberty and security, protection against slavery, freedom of
movement thought and speech and the right to vote. As of August 2017, the
Covenant has 172 parties. The ICCPR is monitored by the United Nations
Human Rights Committee. The Committee normally meets in Geneva and
normally holds three sessions per year.

 Core International Human Rights Instruments: 9 (Treaties) and the Treaty Bodies. (9
tratate si cele 9 institutii care le-au aplicat/implementat). (Global Instruments)

There are nine core international human rights treaties. The United Nations human rights
treaties are at the core of the international system for the promotion and protection of human
rights. Each of these treaties has established a committee of experts (the treaty bodies) to
monitor implementation of the treaty by its States parties.

The first treaty, adopted in 1948, was the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of
the Crime of Genocide, which addressed the legacy (mostenire) of the Nazi Holocaust. Since
then, a large number of treaties have been adopted, covering a wide array of subjects, all
related to human rights. Each of these treaties also contains details regarding a treaty
monitoring body (institutions). All of these treaties are adopted under the protection and
authority of the United Nations.

Short- Name Date Monitoring


Name Body

ICERD International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial 21 Dec CERD
Discrimination 1965

ICCPR International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (see above) 16 Dec CCPR
1966

ICESCR International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 16 Dec CESCR
(see above) 1966

CEDAW Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination 18 Dec CEDAW


against Women 1979

CAT Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or 10 Dec CAT
Degrading Treatment or Punishment 1984

CRC Convention on the Rights of the Child 20 Nov CRC


1989
ICMW International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All 18 Dec CMW
Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families 1990

CPED International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from 20 Dec CED
Enforced Disappearance 2006

CRPD Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 13 Dec CRPD


2006

See further details on each one here: http://wwda.org.au/issues/unhrt/hrcore1/ (daca iti cere
sa scrii despre ele, 2 cele mai importante din ele sunt mentionate si la International Bill of
rights, mai sus in document)

 UN: HR Council and High Commissioner.


 The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC):

The UN General Assembly established the UNHRC on March 15, 2006 to


replace the UN Commission on Human Rights. The commission was very
criticized for not enforcing the rights and the conventions properly for all
members’ states.
The United Nations Human Rights Council is a United Nations body whose mission is
to promote and protect human rights around the world. The UNHRC has 47 members
elected for a three-year term on a regional group basis. The headquarters of UNHRC is
in Geneva, Switzerland. The UNHRC investigates accusations of violations of
human rights in UN member states, and addresses important thematic human
rights issues such as freedom of association and assembly, freedom of
expression, freedom of belief and religion, women's rights, LGBT rights, and the
rights of racial and ethnic minorities.

 High Commissioner and the Office of the (United Nations) High Commissioner
for Human Rights (OHCHR):

It is a department of the Secretariat of the United Nations, which works to promote


and protect the human rights. These rights are guaranteed under international law and
stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. The Secretariat of the
United Nations is one of the six major organs of the United Nations, with the others
being (a) the General Assembly; (b) the Security Council; (c) the Economic and Social
Council; (d) Trusteeship Council; and (e) the International Court of Justice. The UN
General Assembly established the office on 20 December 1993 during the 1993 World
Conference on Human Rights. It has the following roles:

o Promote universal enjoyment of all human rights by giving practical effect to the will
and resolve of the world community as expressed by the United Nations
o Play the leading role on human rights issues and emphasizes the importance of human
rights at the international and national levels
o Promote international cooperation for human rights
o Stimulate and coordinates action for human rights throughout the United Nations
system
o Promote universal ratification and implementation of international standards
o Assist in the development of new norms
o Support human rights organs and treaty monitoring bodies
o Respond to serious violations of human rights
o Undertakes preventive human rights action
o Promote the establishment of national human rights infrastructures
o Undertake human rights field activities and operations
o Provide education, information advisory services and technical assistance in the field
of human rights

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights responsible for all the
activities of the OHCHR, as well as for its administration, and carries out the functions
specifically assigned to him or her by the UN General Assembly. The High
Commissioner advises the UN Secretary-General on the policies regarding human
rights, ensures that administrative support is given to the projects and activities. The
High Commissioner also promotes human rights that are not yet recognized in
international law. The current High Commissioner is Michelle Bachelet of Chile, who
succeeded Zeid Raad Al Hussein of Jordan on 1 September 2018. It has offices in
Geneva and New York.

 Regional Instruments for enforcing Human Rights.

In addition to the International Instruments mentioned above there are also regional accords
and agreements, for example:

 Council of Europe, which was founded in 1949 by 10 Western European States to


promote human rights and the rule of law in post-Second World War Europe. .The
Council of Europe adopted its primary human rights treaty in 1950: the European
Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. It includes mainly "civil and
political" rights, but also provides for the right to property.
 The Organization of American States (OAS) was founded in 1948 to promote regional
peace, security and development. The OAS adopted American Convention on Human
Rights in 1969. It contains rights similar to those in the European Convention but goes
further by providing for a minimum of "socio-economic" rights.
 In Africa, a human rights system was adopted under the authority of the Organization
for African Unity (OAU), which was formed in 1963 and transformed in 2002 into the
African Union (AU).The African Charter, adopted by OAU in 1981, contains "socio-
economic" rights and adds further rules on the rights of peoples (Anti-Slavery, right to
education, etc.).

These treaties are implemented differently in each region.

 In addition to these three regional agreements, during the last few years, Arab and
Muslim regional systems have also emerged under the League of Arab States (formed
in 1945, and its goal is strengthen unity among Arab States by developing closer links
between its members). According to the Islamic worldview, the Koran and other
religious sources play a dominant role in the regulation of social life. In 1969 the Cairo
Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, was adopted, but it is only a declaration
without any obligations.

2. Who is responsible for protecting/enforcing Human Rights?


Vezi si intrebarea 1. -> La nivel global UN (United Nations), la nivel regional (vezi sus Regional
Instruments for enforcing Human Rights.) institutiile care se ocupa cu human rights.
Institutiile astea au scos si 9 intrumente legislative: vezi sus Core International Human Rights
Instruments. La nivel de stat vezi jos institutiile care se ocupa de human rights. Mai jos sunt
listate alte institutii in seciuntiile International Organizations si ultima NGO (non-
governamentale organizatii).

 The States
 More recently, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights (OHCHR) has encouraged the creation of national human rights
institutions (NHRI). Until recently, not many countries have created their own
national institutions for protecting Human Rights. If we look back in history we
see that States, most of the time, do not generally grant rights willingly (de
buna voie). Human rights are only secured, ensured and ultimately enforced
through a long struggle against absolute authority.
 These institutions are independent (not under the control of the Government)
and they have the responsibility to protect, monitor and promote human
rights in a given country. There are over 100 such institutions, These
institutions need to be in Accordance with the Paris Principles defined at the
first International Workshop on National Institutions for the Promotion and
Protection of Human Rights held in Paris on 7–9 October 1991 in order to be
recognized by the United Nations. The United Nations Human Rights
Commission in Resolution 1992/54 of 1992 adopted the principles. Special
commissions have been established in many countries to ensure that laws and
regulations concerning the protection of human rights are effectively applied.
Commissions tend to be composed of members from diverse backgrounds,
often with a particular interest, expertise or experience in the field of human
rights. Human rights commissions are concerned primarily with the protection
of those within the jurisdiction of the state against discrimination or
mistreatment, and with the protection of civil liberties and other human
rights.
 One of the most important functions for many national human rights
commissions is to receive and investigate complaints of human rights abuses
committed in violation of existing national law from individual persons.
National Human rights Institutions are usually able to deal with any human
rights issue directly involving a public authority (de ex daca un copil din
orfelinat face plangere la NHRI din Romania, atunci NHRI someaza guvernul si
alte institutii publice sa actioneze). Another function of these institutions is to
provide human rights education and publicity for all sections of society
(particularly minority groups such as refugees), as well as to monitor the
state's compliance with its own and with international human rights laws and
if necessary, recommend changes.
 According to the Paris Principles, the 'National human rights institutions' are
obliged to make "preparation of reports on the national situation with regard
to human rights in general, and on more specific matters" mostly in annual
status reports.

 International Organizations
 International human rights institutions are bodies (sinonim cu institutii) established by
(international) agreements created with the task to interpret, monitor and observe the
implementation and enforcement of human rights law. Their competences, the way they
function and how they are administered, are defined by international law. Human rights
mechanisms refer to procedures, which specify how the international institutions function and
how they can use their power to protect human rights. Below are listed a few International
organizations

1. The International Criminal Court: (ICC)


o It was created on 1 July 2002. It currently counts 139 signatories and 122
ratifications. The Court is based in The Hague and is an international organization
independent from the UN framework. The jurisdiction of the Court is limited to
the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole,
including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of
aggression.
2. The United Nations (UN) plays a key role in the promotion of an international human
rights protection system. The UN has created several institutions and bodies
(departamente) to work on human rights issues and these institutions have adopted
numerous agreements and declarations. For example:
o The General Assembly (GA) is one of six organs (departments) of the United
Nations. It is the single department where all nations have the same voting power.
The GA meets to discuss all matters that are written in the UN Charter (vezi sus la
intrebarea 1), which includes human rights issues. The GA “shall initiate studies
and make recommendations for the purpose of assisting in the realization of
human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex,
language, or religion”
o The Security Council’s (SC) is another organ (department) of the UN with the
responsibility to promote and maintain international peace and security. Its
activities and decisions have increasingly been influenced by human rights
considerations. It is composed of 5 Permanent Members: China, Russia, France,
United Kingdom and United Stated. After approval by the Security Council, the
United Nations may send peacekeepers (military troops that maintain peace) to
regions where armed conflict has recently stopped/paused. These PeaceKeeper
troops are sent to make sure the terms of peace agreements are respected. The
UN does not maintain its own military, peacekeeping forces are voluntarily
provided by member states The Security Council obtained an increased role in the
protection of human rights with the adoption of the Responsibility to Protect
principle.

 Key Agreements and concepts:


o Humanitarian Intervention (see differences below) has been defined as a state's
use of military force against another state, with the purpose to end human rights
violations in that state. There is not one standard or legal definition of
humanitarian intervention whether humanitarian intervention limited to
punishment action; and whether humanitarian intervention is limited to, cases
where there has the UN Security Council authorized such action. Humanitarian
intervention involves the threat and use of military forces as a central feature.
o “The Responsibility to Protect”

The Responsibility to Protect (R2P or RtoP) is a global political commitment,


which was signed by all member states of the United Nations at the 2005 World
Summit. This international human rights mechanism was created in order to
address four key concerns: to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing,
Crimes against humanity.

In the 1990s in the Balkans during the Yugoslav Wars when Serbians committed
mass murders especially against Bosnians. During the same period the genocide
in Rwanda took place, where between 500.000 and 1 million Tutsi were killed in
a period of a few months by the Hutu government of Rwanda. After these
atrocities took place, which the international community failed to prevent, the
international community through the United Nations started a serious debate
on how to react to severe and repeated violations of human rights. The
international community came together at the 2005 UN World Summit meeting,
and all member states finally agreed on the principle of the responsibility to
protect.

The principle of the Responsibility to Protect commitment is based upon the


idea that sovereignty (suveranitatea guvernului, adica puterea lui) implies a
responsibility to protect all populations under that state’s sovereignty, from
mass atrocity crimes and human rights violations. In case of severe violations of
human rights by a specific member state, the agreement specifies that the
United Nations Security Council is the only institution that can approve the use
of force (military intervention) against that state. This intervention is considered
measure of last resort, if all negotiations have failed.

The Responsibility to Protect consists of three important main ideas:

 Pillar I: The protection responsibilities of the state. This dictates


that the state must protect the human rights of its citizens
 Pillar II: International assistance and capacity-building. This states
that the international community is sent (through peacekeepers)
to help in regions of conflict before the conflict can degenerate
into war or genocide.
 Pillar III: Timely and decisive response. As mentioned above,
military intervention is the last option the principle dictates.
Through this Pillar the international community intervenes
militarily in regions where states violate human rights.

The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) differs from humanitarian intervention in four


important ways.

 Humanitarian intervention only refers to the use of military force,


whereas R2P is first a preventive principle that emphasizes a range
of measures to prevent the risk of genocide, war crimes, ethnic
cleansing or crimes against humanity before the crimes are
threatened or occur. The use of force may only be carried out as a
measure of last resort only when it is authorized by the UN
Security Council. This is in contrast to the principle of
'humanitarian intervention', which allows the use of force as a
humanitarian emergency without the authorization international
organizations such as the United Nations and its Security Council.
 As a principle, the Responsibility to Protect is defined firmly in
existing international law, especially the law relating to
sovereignty (suveranitate), peace and security, human rights, and
armed conflict. Humanitarian Intervention is not clearly defined
but rather it is a measure of emergency.
 The humanitarian interventions have been justified in the past in
varying contexts and situations. Responsibility to Protect principle
focuses only on the four mass atrocity crimes: genocide, war
crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
 Finally, while humanitarian intervention assumes a "right to
intervene", the R2P is based on a "responsibility to protect".
Humanitarian intervention and the R2P both agree on the fact that
sovereignty is not absolute (adica puterea unui stat in acel stat nu
e autotputernica, daca incalca legea international statul poate fi
atacat). The Responsibility to Protect doctrine moves away from
state-centered views and towards the interests of victims
 Cases and examples:
o Libya was the first case where the Security Council authorized a military
intervention using The Responsibility to Protect principle. Following widespread
attacks against the civilian population by the Libyan government led by Muammar
Gaddafi, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted resolution
1970 on 26 February 2011. With this Resolution, the Security Council demanded
an immediate ceasefire in Libya. The Council authorized member states to take
"all necessary measures" to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country,
excluding a foreign occupation force of Libya. In summary, the UN Council
authorized only air strikes and naval blockades not an occupation of the country.
A few days later, NATO planes started striking at Gaddafi's forces. NATO was
criticized for its behavior during the air strikes. There were accusations that the
NATO air strikes were not meant to stop the Libyan government from violating
Human rights, but they were meant to remove Muammar Gaddafi’s government
from power. There were also concerns regarding aerial bombardments that may
have caused civilian casualties. The NATO Bombings and the revolution that
followed destroyed the country. NATO and the UN failed to protect human rights
and the population and the country is still in civil war. Since 2011 until today, there
have been two civil wars in Libya, which resulted in thousands of civilian casualties.
o Syria: Over the last seven years, Syria has been in constant conflict, which has led
to the death of 500,000 people, 5 million refugees, and 7 million internally
displaced persons. To help stop these atrocities the International Syria Support
Group (ISSG), the UN, European Union, the League of Arab States, had agreed to
meet to discuss the situation. The conclusion was the implementation of UN
Security Council Resolution 2254, which increased the delivery of humanitarian
aid and a nationwide stop of hostilities, was demanded. The Human Rights Council
discovered that the Syrian government has committed large-scale massacres, and
gross violations of international humanitarian law as well as crimes against
humanity through extermination, murder, rape, torture, imprisonment and other
inhuman acts. The UN Human Rights Council has adopted at least 16 different
resolutions with regard to the atrocities taking place in Syria. Several attempts
were made by the United States. Government to justify military intervention in the
Syrian Civil War with the help of the United Nations. All of these attempts were
voted against by Russia and China. Despite all efforts, the international community
has not agreed on how to intervene in Syria.

 NGOs: watchdogs; partners; advocates


 International Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are an important force within the
international human rights architecture. one of the first organizations mentioned in this
context is the Anti-Slavery Society (1836), but also the International Committee of the Red
Cross (1863), or the International Council of Women which advocated the establishment of
women’s rights. There is no clear definition of Human Rights NGOs but one states that an NGO
is “a private, independent, non-profit, goal-oriented group not founded or controlled by a
government”. Human Rights NGOs are required that the group’s primary concern must be to
promote and protect human rights” Examples for the first are organizations promoting the
rights of LGBTIQ, women, indigenous people or disabled persons.
o Some of these organizations are also called Watchdog organizations. These non-
profit groups view their role as critically monitoring the activities of governments,
industry, or other organizations and alerting the public when they detect actions
that go against the public interest. Some examples: Public Citizen, Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch
A. Amnesty International:
It is a London-based non-governmental organization focused on human rights. The mission of
the organization is to campaign for "a world in which every person enjoys all of the human
rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international
human rights instruments." Amnesty International was founded in London in 1961, by the
lawyer Peter Benenson. In the field of international human rights organizations, Amnesty has
the third longest history, after the International Federation for Human Rights. Amnesty
International is believed by many to set standards for the whole human rights movement.

Amnesty International deals with six concerns:

 Women's, children's, minorities' and indigenous rights


 Ending torture
 Abolition of the death penalty
 Rights of refugees
 Rights of prisoners of conscience
 Protection of human dignity.

Cases/ examples:

1. In February 2018, Teodora del Carmen Vasquez was finally freed from jail in El
Salvador, when a court reduced her 30-year sentence. She had already spent a decade
behind bars after having a stillbirth (a nacut copil mort), which led to her being
accused and convicted for having an abortion - illegal in El Salvador. Amnesty
International organized protests and petitions across the world which finally resulted
in the eliberation of Teodora. Amnesty International continues to campaign for
decriminalization of abortion in El Salvador to prevent future cases like Teodora’s,
where women are punished rather than having their reproductive rights protected.
2. In March, torture became a crime in Togo, through the intensified efforts of Amnesty
International The fantastic announcement came 26 years after the West African
country first signed up to the UN Convention against Torture.
3. The US government’s mass surveillance (supraveghere) of communications received a
major defeat on 7 May, when a court ruled that the National Security Agency's (NSA)
bulk collection of phone records is illegal.

B. Human Rights Watch:

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international non-governmental organization (NGO),


headquartered in New York City founded in 1978. It conducts research and advocacy on
human rights. Human Rights Watch in 1997 shared in the Nobel Peace Prize as a founding
member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. (mine de razboi).

Cases/ examples:

1. Antipersonnel landmines are weapons that cannot discriminate between a civilian


and a soldier, and wind up killing and maiming civilians that step on them or pick
them up long after a conflict. The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty comprehensively bans
the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of antipersonnel mines, and requires
states to destroy and clear all mined areas as well as assist landmine survivors. 162
states have joined the Mine Ban Treaty and are making progress in achieving a
mine-free world. Despite banning production, acquisition and transfer of
antipersonnel mines as well as their use except in the Korean Peninsula, the
United States has yet to sign the Mine Ban Treaty. Human Rights Watch is a
founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).
Contribution for which Human Rights Watch received the Noble Prize for Peace.
2. Child soldiers. Human Rights Watch has played a leading role in the campaign for a
global ban on the use of child soldiers since 1998. The organizations research
helped to bring this urgent issue to international attention and in 2002 a new
treaty was adopted by the United Nations to ban the use of child and underage
children as soldiers.

3. Are Human Rights Universal?


 The Debate about Universal human rights implies two concepts, one of Universalism, where
rights are said to be Universal for all humans and one of Cultural relativism, which states that
human rights are not universal but they are different depending on the culture.
 Universalism: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in
1948 states that human rights and fundamental freedoms are “for all without distinction as to
race, sex, language, or religion.” This applies to all individuals regardless of nationality or
ethnicity. The issue is that there has always been a debate between which rights are universal
for all human beings and which are dependent on the culture, the person belongs to. The
concept of Universalism states that each human being has fundamental rights regardless of
the national or cultural background. The Universalists declare that rights such as freedom of
speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association (de asociere, gen casatorie) are equal for
all human beings regardless of nationality.
 Cultural relativism: There is an opposite current of thinking called cultural relativism, which
states that human rights are not all universal and they vary greatly from culture to culture. This
theory has attacked criticism because it defines the concept of culture as something static
that cannot change to adapt to the universal human rights that all nations adopted. This view
of cultural relativists do not consider that culture is influenced by socials changes. Based on
this concept several countries have argued that freedoms such as freedoms of speech, or free
association (example men allowed to merry men, etc.) are not universal. Examples are The
United Arab Emirates, which strongly disagree with the right to free association. Marriages
between gay and lesbians is prohibited by law and punishable by death. This is adopted as a
cultural and religious belief, not only as a state law. Other critics state that cultural relativism
can be used by states to disguise crimes against humanity or even genocide. Another aspect of
cultural relativism is related to the rights of women and minorities. For example, not all
women have the same basic human rights as men in some Muslim country. In today’s age of
globalization, technological advancement and rapid information flow, cultural differences will
slowly lose their significance.
 Conclusion … Humanity tends to move towards a global culture, where Human rights can be
applied freely to all. History has shown that society and its values change over time. In today’s
world, there are no more pure cultures, thus human basic rights can find their way into these
cultures. Currently we can see that human rights are not applied universally even though we
have made huge efforts. We still have some time before all human rights are respected equally
in all cultures.

4. What are minorities rights


 Minority rights are the normal individual rights applied to members of racial, ethnic, class,
religious, linguistic or gender and sexual minorities. Minority rights may also apply simply to
individual rights of anyone who is not part of a majority decision. Throughout history, there
have been many situations where minorities have been targeted, oppressed and even
murdered by states and other majority groups. There have been many attempts from the
international community to create agreements and accords in order to ensure that the rights
of minorities are protected. Today several international and regional accords guarantee and
protect the rights of minorities. One of the most important global accords is the United
Nations “Declaration on the rights of persons belonging to national, ethnic, religious and
linguistic minorities” (see below) and on a regional level, the European Union adopted the
“Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities”. The absence of a proper
Definition is one of the most important issues regarding the debate about minorities and
minority rights. A definition has been proposed, in 1977 by Francesco Capotorti, Special
Rapporteur of the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and
Protection of Minorities: “A group numerically inferior to the rest of the population of a State,
in a non-dominant position, whose members - being nationals of the State - possess ethnic,
religious or linguistic characteristics differing from those of the rest of the population and
show, if only implicitly, a sense of solidarity, directed towards preserving their culture,
traditions, religion or language”. Even with this proposed definition, there is no internationally
agreed definition stating which groups should constitute a minority. It is generally accepted
that a definition for minorities must include two aspects:
 Objective factors: The existence of a shared ethnicity, language or
religion
 Subjective factors, meaning that individuals must identify themselves
as members of a minority
 Problem with the definition:

Some minorities live in well-defined areas, separated from the dominant


(majority) part of the population, while others are scattered throughout the
country amongst the general population.
Another issue is the fact that, some minorities have a strong sense of
identity and recorded history while other do not retain (a retine, a pastra)
many aspects pertaining (apartinand) to their identity and culture.

In most scenarios, a minority is actually a numerical minority, (adica un


grup minoritar e mai putin numeros, e si minoritar dpdv numeric) however
there have been cases where a population group which is an actual numerical
majority can find itself in a non-dominant position, thus in a minority-like
situation. For example: The Blacks in South Africa, where they were oppressed
by the White minority (which had the dominant position, they were governing
the country from 1948 until the early 1990s and did not grant equal rights to
Black people)

 Declaration on the rights of persons belonging to national, ethnic, religious and linguistic
minorities. The Declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1992.
The declaration is inspired by article 27 of the “International Covenant on civil and Political
rights” and it adds clarification regarding the minority rights. The declaration states that all
member countries are obligated to respect and ensure human rights for all citizens living in
that respective country, without race, ethnic or other types of discrimination. The Declaration
does not make distinction between the different “categories” of minorities and the rights
associated with each of them. For example: National minorities could have more rights (as
they include ethnic, religious, and linguistic) compared to linguistic minorities (which could
have rights only for the protection of their language), but the declaration does not make this
distinction and states that all minorities should have equal rights.

 Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities is a treaty adopted by the
Council of Europe in 1998.

The protection of national minorities has always been on the Council of Europe’s agenda. With
the collapse (prabusirea) of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe in 1989-1991 and with
the rising ethnic tensions in various parts of Europe, the Council of Europe decided to start
working on a document to ensure that national minority’s rights are protected. In 1994, the
Council of Europe adopted the Framework Convention for the Protection of National
Minorities (FCNM). The goal of this document is to ensure that the signatory states respect the
rights of national minorities, stop discrimination, promote equality, preserve and develop the
culture and identity of national minorities.

 Criticism:

Not all member states of the Council of Europe have signed and ratified it. France and
Turkey have not signed. The issue is that there are international agreements already in place
and this Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities agreement does
not bring extra clarification or rights.

Another major issue is that This Framework does not contain a definition of "national
minority". This absence of a clear definition leaves the states with an option to interpret what
a minority is. The Framework does state that each state must define minorities “in good faith
and in accordance with general principles of international law”.

5. What are the main principles established in the Declaration on the Rights of
Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities in
order to protect those minorities?
The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the rights of persons
belonging to national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities in 1992. Vezi sectiunea What
are minorities rights mai sus pentru definitie si problem cu conceptul de minoritati. The
Declaration contains nine articles:
1. Article 1:
 States that Nation States have the responsibility to protect the national or
ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic identity of minorities by adopting
appropriate legislation.
2. Article 2:
 States that persons belonging to minorities have the right to enjoy their own
culture, to profess and practice their own religion, to use their own language,
in private and in public and to participate in cultural, religious, social,
economic and public life. These persons have the right also to participate in
political and social decisions concerning the minority they are part of.
3. Article 3
 People belonging to minorities can exercise their national rights and as well
the rights contained in the “Declaration on the rights of persons belonging to
national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities” without any
discrimination.
4. Article 4
 Nation States should take measures that minorities can exercise fully all their
human rights and fundamental freedoms without any discrimination. They
should be equal with the majority of the population before the law.
 Minorities have the right to practice their culture, language, religion, traditions
and customs, except where practices are in violation of national or
international laws.
5. Article 5
 National policies and programmes shall be planned and implemented as soon
as possible in order to protect the rights and the interests of the minorities
within each nation.
6. Article 6
 This article states that nations should try to integrate the minorities not to
assimilate them. Nations should promote mutual understanding and
confidence between minorities and the majority of the population.
7. Article 7
 States should cooperate in order to promote respect for the rights set forth in
the present Declaration.
8. Articles 8 and 9 discuss about the administration aspect of the treaty, such as the
institutions that should enforce and watch over the implementation.

6. What is multiculturalism about?


 Multiculturalism is a political view that cultures, and ethnicities, particularly those of minority
groups, deserve special treatment and rights because minorities are different from the
majority of the population. Cultures, even if they are a dominant one, cannot impose their
values and customs onto other cultures. Multiculturalists claim that it is not necessary for a
minority group to learn the customs, language and traditions of another culture in order to
enjoy the same liberties. For example if a minority group moves to another region, as it is the
case with the Syrian refugees in Europe, these refugees should not be obligated to learn the
customs and traditions, but they should enjoy the same rights or even special rights compared
to the cultures in the countries they arrived in. Vezi si Are Human Rights Universal sectiunea:
Cultural relativism. Detaliaza mai mult si despre drepturile relative fata de cultura ta.
 The concept of Multiculturalism is in opposition with the ideals of liberal democracies. In
liberal democracies all citizens are be treated equally under the law. A human being is a
citizen with equal rights just like the other citizens and after that a member of a particular
culture. The concept of citizen implies that people from different cultures are equal and should
have the same rights.
 Some more multicultural theorists claim that cultural groups need more than recognition to
protect the distinct identities of the minority. They claim that minorities should have special
rights when comparing to the majority cultures. Of course, this opens up the possibility of
exploitation. (see below reasons for and against multiculturalism)
 Multicultural countries tend to share the following policies:
o the constitutional, legislative or parliamentary affirmation of multiculturalism at
the central, regional and municipal levels;
o the adoption of multiculturalism in the school curriculum;
o the inclusion of ethnic representation and sensitivity in the mandate of public
media or media licensing;
o the allowing of dual citizenship;
o the funding of ethnic group organizations or activities;
o the funding of bilingual education or mother-tongue instruction;
o Decisive and conclusive action for disadvantaged immigrant groups.
Based on the principles listed above we can make a distinction between countries that
support or reject multiculturalism:
o strong on multiculturalism: Australia, Canada, Finland, Sweden;
o modest on multiculturalism: Belgium, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, United
Kingdom;
o weak on multiculturalism: Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy,
Netherlands, Switzerland

7. What are the main arguments in favor/against multiculturalism


 Multiculturalism as a concept is based on good ideals, such as a world with a multitude of
individual cultures all collaborating together in peace.
 Although as a concept, it sounds good, there are quite a few arguments against
multiculturalism.
o One is that multiculturalism privileges certain minority groups over thus providing
more power to minorities.
o In addition to individual equal human rights, some multiculturalists have
advocated for special group rights and autonomous governance for certain cultural
groups. Multiculturalism weakens (slabeste) the notion of equal individual rights. If
minorities have more rights than other cultures this results in a dangerous
situation where those minorities could abuse their power.
o There is the question of which cultures will be recognized and which ones should
be awarded special rights to.
o Another criticism came from the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom,
David Cameron. He stated that multiculturalism as a policy "suggests
separateness" and should be replaced with policies, which promote integration…”.
David Cameron declares further that “the doctrine of state multiculturalism" as a
strategy which has "encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from
each other and apart from the mainstream".
o Multiculturalism encourages members of different cultures to live separately in
parallel communities that have only minimal contact and interaction with one
another, generating mutual ignorance and mistrust;
o According to some critics, multiculturalist do not view immigrants as human
individuals with equal rights but they view them as something special. This implies
a categorization of immigrants, similar to the categorization in racism. This
categorization leads to stereotypes and to further discrimination.
 There are also positive arguments for Multiculturalism.
o A positive multicultural environment promotes respect, by challenging the social
privileges of the predominant subculture. It also promotes creativity through all
the new connections and influences between cultures and progress by providing a
context of mutual understanding and tolerance between cultures.
o One other advantage of multinational society is the diversification. Different
nations under one “roof” means that you as a citizen have access to a variety of
experiences and different cultures. Different people will give you different
opinions, knowledge, points of view, solutions and of course – cultures.

8. As a policy or set of policies: has multiculturalism succeeded or failed?


 Multiculturalism is a political view that cultures, and ethnicities, particularly those of minority
groups, deserve special treatment and rights because minorities are different from the
majority of the population. (vezi la sectiunea 6 What is multiculturalism about). European
countries have been confronted with a large number of immigrants in a short period during
the last few years. This was a powerful culture shock to the receiving countries. Immigrants
have always been seen as a negative aspect of the globalization and a negative aspect of the
European Union’s policies of cultural integration.
 Multiculturalism has failed in Europe: Some critics of multiculturalism have stated that one of
the reasons of the Brexit vote was this psychological effect from the masses of immigrants that
entered into the United Kingdom. UK citizens were already used to the idea of
multiculturalism, as there are numerous minority groups living there for the past decades. All
of these minorities, such as the Indians, and the black minorities were once part of the same
British Empire, thus they have some common traditions with the majority of the population.
The new wave of immigrants were from a very different social and historical background,
and this caused numerous tensions between local British Citizens and Syrian immigrants. In
Britain and in the European Countries some experts state that multiculturalism has failed as a
concept because Europe has too many different cultures. With the wave of immigrants from
the recent years, this fragmentation has increased. Multiculturalism states that minorities
should receive special treatments. This results in an imbalance of rights between the
minorities and the majority of the population. European policies are moving away from
multiculturalism and are now headed towards a Universalist approach; where all rights are
applied equally for all citizens. This would mean in turn a much better integration but not
assimilation of minorities. In October 2010, Angela Merkel stated in Potsam, that attempts to
build a multicultural society in Germany had "utterly failed ... The concept that we are now
living side by side and are happy about it does not work". She continued to say that immigrants
should integrate and adopt Germany's culture and values. This has added to a growing debate
within Germany on the levels of immigration, its effect on Germany and the degree to which
Muslim immigrants have integrated into German society.
 There is also a positive example of Multiculturalism, that of Canada. Canadian society is
considered "very progressive, diverse, and multicultural". Multiculturalism was adopted as the
official policy of the Canadian government during the premiership of Pierre Elliott Trudeau in
the 1970s and 1980s. Multiculturalism is reflected in the law through the Canadian
Multiculturalism Act and section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Many
public and private groups in Canada work to support both multiculturalism and recent
immigrants to Canada. In an effort to support recent Filipino immigrants to Alberta, for
example, one school collaborated with a local university and an immigration agency to
support these new families in their school and community.
 Examples of legal accords and documents regarding multiculturalism:
o The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, adopted by Canada in 1982 stipulates that
the rights described in this document should be interpreted with a
multiculturalism view.
o The 1988 Canadian Multiculturalism Act strengthtens the policy of the
government towards minorities and towards a multi cultural Canada. This act
ensure that every Canadian receives equal treatment by the government and also
that the gouvernment respects and celebrates diversity
o In Germany a National Integration Plan for minorities was released in 2007. Some
Turkish associations were upset about some of the proposed requirements,
including those related to the language skills . The government says that
integration is a combination of “promoting and demanding.” It “requires an effort
from everyone, from government and society. The most important asppect for an
immigrant, according to german law, is that the imigrant should attempt to get
involved with life in German society, to unconditionally accept German Basic Law
and to visibly demonstrate the belonging to Germany by learning the German
language. In turn Germany offers, acceptance, tolerance, civic commitment and
willingness to honestly welcome people from all over the world. backgrounds.
 We can see many different examples on how Multiculturalism has been applied, with
success such as in Canada, a country who is very open to immigrants and is willing to
permit extended freedoms for national minorities. There have been examples where
multiculturalism has failed, for example in Great Britain, Germany and in other European
countries. We see that public opinion is moving away from acceptance and
multiculturalism towards a more unversalist approach, where minorities are treated the
same as the majority groups.

9. What are the differences between assimilation, multiculturalism and


interculturalism?
First, we need define what each of these concepts mean.
 Cultural Assimilation: is the cultural process in which a minority group or culture loses its
distinctive traditions and characteristics and starts to resemble a dominant group. The
minority group assume the values, behaviors, and beliefs of another majority group. There are
examples throughout history where states have induced a forced cultural assimilation for
minority groups. For example:
o During the 19th and 20th centuries, the Canadian government began a campaign
to forcibly assimilate Aboriginals. The government took power over Aboriginal
Indian lands through the use of force, eventually isolating indigenous people into
reservations. Marriage practices and spiritual ceremonies were banned, and
spiritual leaders were imprisoned. Additionally, the Canadian government
instituted an extensive residential school system to assimilate aboriginal children.
Since this period in Canada’s history, the country has made great efforts to
improve its minority rights by adopting many policies in this context.
Cultural assimilation is quite the opposite of Multiculturalism, which dictates that minorities
should be protected and their unique identity must be preserved. According to the concept of
cultural assimilation, a minority group should in time; either naturally or by force, adopt the
traditions and customs of the majority.
 Multiculturalism (vezi sectiunea 6 “What is multiculturalism about?” pentru definitie)
 Interculturalism: shares a number of features with multiculturalism. In particular,
interculturalism values cultural diversity and pluralism. Interculturalism also places
importance on integration and social inclusion. Integration is defined as a two-way process in
which both minorities and majorities make compromises and agreements in order to better
understand each other. Interculturalism, similar to Multiculturalism involves taking actions to
counter discrimination, to give special assistance to disadvantaged groups, and to eliminate
educational disadvantages. In other words, interculturalism builds upon the foundations of
multiculturalism. In intercultural environment people from different cultures,religions, groups
live in same society and keep open and good relationship with one another.
In intercultural society, people accept the cultural differences with respect and live equally.
The accent is placed on the euqliaty between cultures and in Multiculturalism the accent is
placed on the differences between cultures.
10. What are the main forms of discrimination against women identified in the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women?
What do the States pledge to do in order to overcome such discrimination?

 In some countries women, cannot dress as they like, drive, work at night, inherit property or give evidence in
Court. In these countries there are many discriminatory laws, in place, that relate to family life, including
limiting a woman’s right to marry, divorce and remarry. These laws allow for sex discriminatory marital
practices such as wife obedience and polygamy. Laws explicitly mandating “wife obedience” still govern
marital relations in many States.

To address these issues the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination against Women on 18 December 1979. In 1946, the United Nations established
the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, in order to monitor the situation of women and to
promote women's rights. After more than 30 years of efforts, the “Convention” was finally adopted.

 The convention includes in Article 1 a definition for “discrimination against women”:


o “Any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or
purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women,
irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights
and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field”

 Using the definition above we can see that women have faced discrimination under many forms throughout
recent history:

o Women were not allowed to vote in some states, and their legal status is still not specified
clearly in state law. Women rights to vote, to hold public office and to exercise public functions,
were only are guaranteed in 1952 with the adoption of the Convention on the Political Rights
of Women.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women reinforces
these political and civil rights under article 7. The United Nations recognize that the legal
discrimination is still an issue and that in some countries women do not have the same status as
men under the law.

o Other forms of discrimination were identified and addressed in the Convention, under Articles
10, 11 and 13, such as discrimination in education, employment and economic and social
activities. The articles in the convention request members to apply non-discriminatory laws and
regulation. The articles also focus on the situation of rural women, where the rate of
discrimination is much higher than in urban areas

o Another form of discrimination addressed in the Convention is that of discrimination of women


in civil and business matter. Article 15 addresses these issues and demands that all legal
instruments and laws that restrict women's legal capacity should be immediately voided.
(anulate)

o The right for women to choose of spouse, personal rights and command over property have
been included under Article 16.

o Another important aspect identified by the Convention is that of women reproductive rights.
The Convention states, "The role of women in procreation should not be a basis for
discrimination". The Convention also covers the notion of motherhood, demanding ''a proper
understanding of maternity as a social function". The Convention demands that the
responsibility of taking care of children should be shared equally by both sexes.
 The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is the body of independent
experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women. CEDAW Committee consists of 23 experts on women’s rights from around the
world.Unfortunately, not all states have adhered to the principles and demands of the Convention; for
example, The United States and Palau have signed, but not ratified the treaty. Iran, Somalia, Sudan,
and Tonga have not signed the treaty.
 We can see that even though we have had progress in western societies regarding women rights there are
many states in the Islamic World where the status of women has not improved. The discussion about women
rights, intersects with the discussion about universal human rights. If all rights are universal this means that
they should be applied equally to women as well.

It remains to be seen. (poti sa zici ca esti optimista ca se vor schimba lucrurile spre bine)

11. What were the core 12 critical areas on gender issues identified in the Beijing
platform for Action?
At the Fourth World Conference on Women in September 1995, held in Beijing,
representatives of 189 governments met to create an agreement that promoted equality and
opportunity for women. They adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

The Platform for Action imagines a world where women and girls can exercise their freedoms
and choices. The Platform aims to create a world in which all women rights are respected, such
as, to live free from violence, to go to school, to participate in decisions and to earn equal
pay for equal work.

The agreement focuses on 12 critical areas regarding women rights and discrimination.

1. Women and poverty: This topic addresses they key issue of poverty amongst women,
ranging from women not earning same as men for equal work, up to the total lack of
access to financial resources. In order to address these socio-economic issues, the
platform has adopted a few objectives.
 States should modify existing laws and macro-economic policies that address
the needs of women in poverty. Another object is for states to adopt laws and
administrative practices in order to ensure equal rights and access for women
to economic resources. (Sa dea legi ca sa nu fii refuzata ca femeie cand ceri un
imprumut). Also linked to this, the Platform states that women must have
access to savings and credit mechanisms and institutions.

2. Education and training of women: Non-discriminatory education benefits both girls


and boys and this contributes to more equal relationships between women and men.
Literacy of women is an important key to improving health, nutrition and education in
the family and to empowering women to participate in decisionmaking in society.
 Although we have made progress in regards to this subject in the Western
Countries, we still see discrimination in girls’ access to educationin regions
such as Africa and the Middle-East . Most of descrimonitory actions are an
effect due to the customs and traditions of the cultures there. Early marriages
and pregnancies are an effect of the lack of educational materials and
schooling institutions
 The Platform states several objectives in order to address the issue of
education for women, such as “States must ensure equal access to education
and to reduce illiteracy for women”. The platform also mentiones that states are
obligated to develop non-discriminatory education and training.

3. Women and health. The platform mentions that Women’s health involves their
emotional, social and physical well-being and is determined by the social, political
and economic context of their lives, as well as by biology. Women have different and
unequal access to and use of basic health resources. In many African countries women
do not have access to primary health services for the prevention and treatment of
childhood diseases, malnutrition, anaemia, diarrhoeal diseases, communicable
diseases, malaria and other tropical diseases. In many developing countries, the lack of
emergency obstetric services is a great issue for women. In addition, privatization of
health-care systems without appropriate guarantees of universal reduces health-care
availability.
 In order to address such issues, the platform demans that Nations increase
women's access to appropriate, affordable and quality health care systems.
Another obligation for Nations, is to address sexually transmitted diseases,
HIV/AIDS, and sexual and reproductive health issues through appropriate
health programs.

4. Violence against women. Violence against women both violates the enjoyment by
women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Women and girls are
subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse regardless of income, class and
culture.
 The term "violence against women" is defined in the Platform as “act of
gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or
psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts,
coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or
private life”.
In order to address these issues the Platform contains objectives and obligations for
the states to measures to prevent and eliminate violence against women and also to
Eliminate trafficking in women and assist victims of violence due to prostitution and
trafficking.The Platform also states that violence can take several forms:

 Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including


battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, marital rape,
female genital mutilation.
 Violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual
abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions
and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;
 Violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.

5. Women and armed conflict. Current International law, through theThe Vienna
Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted by the World Conference on Human
Rights in 1949, states that "violations of the human rights of women in situations of
armed conflict are violations of the fundamental principles of international human
rights and humanitarian law". In regions of armed conflict and terrorism, women and
girls are particularly affected and targeted because of their status in society and their
sex. There are enumerous cases of mass rape of women and even cases of rape as a
tactic of war and terrorism. A recent study shows that women and children constitute
some 80 per cent of the world’s millions of refugees. Several objectives and obligations
have been proposed for states in order to prevent violence agianst women. States
should “Increase the participation of women in conflict resolution at decision-making
levels and protect women living in situations of armed conflicts” , “Promote non-violent
forms of conflict resolution and reduce the incidence of human rights abuse in conflict
situations” and to “Provide protection, assistance and training to refugee women,
other displaced women in need of international protection”

6. Women and the economy. Although many women have advanced in economic
structures, for the majority of women are unable to achieve economic autonomy and
to ensure sustainable lives for themselves and their dependants.
We that women have indeed started to be included in key positions in the economic
sector, but this has happened mostly in the West. The majority of women still face
inequalities and this makes it necessary to rethink current economical policies. One of
the effects of glbalization is that many jobs are created in developing countries such as
India and Chine and the majority of these low-paying jobs are occupied by women.
Many women have been forced to accept low pay and poor working conditions and
thus have often become preferred workers. In order to address these issues, there are
several objectives included: Nations should “ Promote women's economic rights and
independence, including access to employment, appropriate working conditions and
control over economic resources”, “Facilitate women's equal access to resources,
employment, markets and trade” and “Promote harmonization of work and family
responsibilities for women and men”

7. Women in power and decision-making. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights


states that everyone has the right to take part in the Government of his/her country.
Despite the movement towards democratization in most countries, women are mostly
underrepresented at most levels of government. Globally, women now hold only 10
per cent of the members of legislative bodies and a lower percentage of ministerial
positions. In order to address these issues the Platform for action dictates that Nations
should “Take measures to ensure women's equal access to and full participation in
power structures and decision-making”

8. Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women. National institutions for the
protection and promotion of women have been established in almost every Member
State of the United Nations, however not all states utilize they mechanisms effectively.
Some national government do not provide adequate staff, training, data and sufficient
resources for these institutions and mechanisms. To address the lack of implication,
states under this agreement, are obligated to “Integrate gender perspectives in
legislation, public policies, programmes and projects and to ensure that sufficient
resources in terms of budget and professional capacity are directed towards these
institutions.
9. Human rights of women. Human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright
of all human beings; their protection and promotion is the first responsibility of
Governments. . In countries that have not signed the Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination against Women and other international human rights
instruments, women rights are not applied and protected. In this country women and
men are not considered equal individuals with equal rights. Nations must “Promote
and protect the human rights of women, through the full implementation of all human
rights instruments, especially the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women” and “Ensure equality and non-discrimination under
the law and in practice” in order for women rights to be applied and respected.

10. Women and the media. Nowadays we see an increase in the number of women that
are involved in careers in the communications sector, but few have obtained positions
at the decision-making level or serve on governing boards and bodies that influence
media policy. Women need to be involved in decision-making regarding the
development of the new technologies in order to participate fully in their growth and
impact. Nation states should “Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of
women in the media”. Governments should encourage media institutions and
organizations to stop presenting women as inferior beings and exploiting them as
sexual objects and commodities. Women should be presented as creative human
beings, key actors and contributors to the development of our society. Nations states,
in order to address this issue, must promote the equal sharing of family responsibilities
through media campaigns that emphasize gender equality and non-stereotyped
gender roles of women and men within the family and that

11. Women and the environment. The degradation of natural resources force entire
communities to migrate, this migration in turns affects especially women living in rural
areas and those working in the agricultural sector. These worsening conditions are
destroying fragile ecosystems and lead to poverty. Environmental risks in the home
and workplace may have a disproportionate impact on women’s health because
women are more sensitive to the toxic effects of various chemicals. These risks to
women’s health are particularly high in urban areas, as well as in low-income areas
where there is a high concentration of polluting industrial facilities.
Women are rarely trained as professional natural resource managers, agriculturalists,
foresters, marine scientists and environmental lawyers. Even in cases where women
are trained as professional natural resource managers, they are often
underrepresented in formal institutions. The Beijing platform for Action requires states
to involve women actively in environmental decision-making at all levels and to
Strengthen or establish mechanisms at the national, regional, and international levels
to assess the impact of development and environmental policies on women

12. The girl child. In many countries, available indicators show that the girl child is
discriminated against from the earliest stages of life, through her childhood and into
adulthood. Girls are often treated as inferior as a result this weakens their self-esteem.
Discrimination and neglect in childhood can lead to serious issues of exclusion from
the social mainstream in adulthood. Although the number of educated children has
grown in the past 20 years, in some countries, boys have proportionately succeeded
much better than girls. In 1990, 130 million children had no access to primary school;
of these, 81 million were girls. The percentage of girls enrolled in school remains low in
many countries. Girls are often not encouraged or given the opportunity to pursue
scientific and technological training and education, which limits the knowledge they
require for their employment opportunities.
A recent study has shown that more than 15 million girls, aged 15 to 19, give birth
each year. Motherhood at a very young age involves complications during pregnancy,
delivery, and a risk of maternal death. Early marriage and early motherhood can
severely affect educational and employment opportunities. The Platform accentuates
the role that governments must take in order stop all discrimination and violation of
children. Examples of such objectives and guidelines: “Eliminate all forms of
discrimination against the girl-child”, “eliminate discrimination against girls in
education, skills development, training in health and nutrition.” States should
“eliminate the economic exploitation of child labor and protect young girls at work”

Even with the actions taken through this agreement, Platform for Action and through
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, we still see
women earn less than men and are more likely to work in poor-quality jobs. A third suffer
physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

12. Are they still relevant?


Since 1995 when the Platform for Action was adopted,

 In the Developing world?


 In the Developed World?
13. What is the approach to gender inequality like, in the SDG?

14. On the basis of cultural relativism, is it legal to discriminate against LGBT


people? Why?