The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 and it was the first comprehensive international charter of liberal democratic rights that are fundamental for every human being to live with dignity and fulfill their aspirations without fear or favour. There is of course the criticism that a charter of rights in itself is not sufficient unless there are mechanisms for them to be implemented and for aggrieved persons to seek redressal when their rights are violated. Especially when in the post war era, Nation States and Multinational Corporations, the two most powerful of institutions between which there is an unholy nexus, have been the main violators of human rights. Nevertheless the very fact that such a charter is there can and is used by Human Rights Organisations to pressurise these Governments and Corporations to be more sensitive to the rights of individuals. Even though the huge devastation wrought by the second World War provided the immediate urgency for formulating such a charter it was in fact a culmination of a long process of empowerment of the common citizen against the impunity of ruling authorities which began with the signing of the Magna Carta in England in 1215.
Let us begin the discussion with one particular sentence in the preamble to the UDHR which is very important in the context of the continuing violation of human rights of common people by Governments and Corporations - "it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law"
The crucial phrase here is rule of law. This means that there should be a just dispensation with good laws and these laws being enforced for all including the law enforcers regardless of their status in society. Otherwise if there is injustice and it mounts to a level where there is tyranny and oppression then there is bound to be rebellion sooner or later. Rebellion invariably leads to conflict and violence and we are seeing this everywhere today. Almost all countries are faced with rebellions of some kind or other and the Governments are suppressing them or preventing them from snowballing. The level of surveillance that is going on in the United States of America the so called standard bearer of the free world has now been revealed following Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden's whistle blowing. The vindictive reaction of the US Government against these two shows to what extent governments are paranoid about the possibilities of rebellion. Instead of implementing the rule of law, governments instead are bent on more oppression and tyranny. This means that the day is not far when rebellions will erupt in greater number as they have done in the Arab nations of the Middle East and North Africa.
In India the situation is particularly bad for the marginalised Tribal and Dalit population. Like in the USA the Blacks have a much higher proportion in prisons than any other community so also in India Dalits and Tribals have a higher proportion of their people in jails.
Ultimately human rights can be secured only with greater grassroots mobilisation. This is a hard task no doubt given the meagre resources that organisations fighting for justice can muster in the face of the organised oppression of the State and the Corporates funded by huge resources. Nevertheless it has to be undertaken if the rule of law has to prevail, justice is to be done and peace on earth and goodwill among humans is to be the order of the day.