THE STATUS OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT.
In reference to Kenya
THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
The United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 as the first international recognition that all human beings are entitled to fundamental rights and freedoms which must be protected, respected and promoted by all Nations and world citizens. The fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the declaration and other International human rights instruments and international laws are still not a reality for many, as human rights abuses constitute a world wide problem and give rise to ethnic, racial, class and religious conflicts
Therefore, it is an obligation of all governments, corporate, civil society organizations and the entire public who are the right claimants to promote, protect and defend human rights and ensure human rights instruments are universally implemented thus becoming a living reality. There must be policies to make sure continuous human rights education in communities, private and public institutions and communities to empower citizens so that they can enjoy their rights, for peace development and social justice.
In playing their primary role, human rights organizations, movements and workers should constantly include human rights monitoring as part of a tool of their long term vision for a society free from human rights violation. On this basis I wish to present my analysis on human rights and the development status report.
The right to development
The right to development can be rooted into the provisions of the charter of United Nations Universal Declaration on human rights and International human rights Covenants. Through these Charters, member States undertook to promote social progress and better living standards and to achieve international cooperation in finding long lasting sustainable solutions to global problems of economic, social, cultural or humanitarian crisis and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, linguistic or religion.
A crucial step forward towards the recognition of the right to development was made under the United Nations General Assembly resolution 1161 (xii).Through this resolution, the General Assembly expressed the view that balanced and integrated and social development would contribute towards the promotion and maintenance of peace and security, social development and the observance of respect for human rights
At the international conference on human rights held in Tehran, from 22 April to 13th May 1968, World leaders expressed their belief that the enjoyment of economic and social rights is inherently linked to any meaningful and profound interconnection between the realization of human rights and economic development. It recognized the collective responsibility of the international community to ensure the attainment of minimum standards of living necessary for enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons throughout the world.
In 1969 UN General Assembly, in its resolution 2542 (xxiv) adopted the declaration on social progress and development which states that social progress and development shall aim at continuous rising of material and spiritual standards of living of all members of society in respect for and in compliance with human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The declaration on the right to development defines such right as an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all people are entitled to participate in and contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development in which all human rights and fundamental freedom can be fully realized.
The right development includes: Full sovereignty over natural resources, self- determination popular participation in development, equality and equal opportunities for all creation of conjunctive environment for the enjoyment of civil, political, social and cultural rights.
The human person is identified as the beneficiary of the right to development, as of all human rights. The right to development can be invoked by individuals and the community. It imposes obligations both on individual States to ensure equal and adequate access to essential resources and the International community to promote fair development policies and effective international cooperation. The 1993 Vienna Declaration and programme of action recognize that democracy, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.
It is very unfortunate that all these theories have not adequately been translated into realities thus leading to increased poverty, economic global recession, global food crisis, global oil crisis, conflicts, crimes, war and the list is endless.
Internationally, developed countries have promoted arms business and facilitated political crisis so that they can benefit from natural resources at the expense of human life. This situation has caused gross violation of human rights and suffering especially in Africa and the Middle East. Other obstacles to enjoyment of the right to development and other human rights and freedoms are:
Environment degradation which is the main reason for climate change, Aid conditionalities, structural adjustment programmes, odious debts, unfair international trade rules e.g. Economic Partnership Agreements(EPAs) negotiations between the European Union(EU) and African Caribbean Pacific Countries(ACP)
.In order to realize the right to development and other human rights and freedoms, greater decentralization and devolution of economic and political power from global, state to local level is needed. For this to be effective, capacities and resources especially for the rural communities and the urban poor must be increased. Effective frame works for democracy, governance, decentralization and devolution must mean empowering local communities and the urban poor within the national economy and polity.
Vast inequality in power and capacity of Nation States and citizens as an obstacle to enjoyment of human rights, freedoms and the right to development
The quest for equality goes to the very heart of every human person. Equality has been a pre-occupation in several fields; in particular philosophy, economics and law. The philosophy of social justice argues that all human beings have expectations of certain primary goods and services necessary to sustain a decent life. States being main duty bearers must facilitate these provisions. In pursuit of equality as a human rights principle, we must be aware of the fact that none of us comes into the world as the property of another or their subjects.
Where poverty and ignorance continue to flourish, citizens will not have the required capacity to hold state accountable for the fulfillment of human rights. Unfortunately, most dictators especially in Africa and their regimes have deliberately failed to facilitate the realization of human rights and the right to development. They have formalized, legalized and institutionalized inequality in their governance and leadership structures and created excessively powerful ruling elites there by continuing what Professor Patrick Bond of University of Kwa Zulu Natal calls looting Africa.
These dictatorship regimes have used poverty, ignorance and other forms of inequality to sustain their stay in power.
Equality entails the right to equal treatment in law, equal access to services and equal pay. It is entrenched in the universal declaration on Human rights, that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Inequality is one of the biggest obstacles to enjoyment and realization of human rights, the right to development and fundamental freedoms which are the birth rights of all human beings are therefore inalienable. Where there is no development it is very difficult for human persons to be free and live a dignified life.
Development must involve economic growth, equitable distribution, enhancement of people’s capacities and widening of their awareness for participation in decision making process, self reliance and self determination.
CURRENT GLOBAL GOVERNANCE
There are serious problems with the current structures and processes of global governance. Among these is the vast inequality in power and capacity of different nation states. For instance the industrialized countries like the G 8 have far higher per capital incomes which translate into economic clout in negotiations to shape global governance. They are the source of much needed markets, foreign distorted investments, financial capital and technology. They are also the drivers of global politics.
They have taken advantage of their political and economic power to influence change of regimes which dance to their tunes of their political and economic interest without considering if those regimes respect, protect and promote human rights, democracy, good governance and the rule of law. They preach global peace and security and spend millions of dollars on the same mostly in sub-Sahara Africa and the Middle East, but the question is who manufactures and sells arms to the so called terrorists and armed rebels? Where do these multi- nationals suspected to vandalism natural resource like oil and minerals in the gulf, Middle East and Sub-Sahara Africa including Sudan, DR Congo and Sierra Leon come from and who benefits?
Who benefits from globalization of privatization, market liberalization and foreign investments and other domination, imperialist and exploitation policies?
What is the cause of internal civil wars, mass killings displacements among other gross violation of human rights, natural disasters like the recent deadly earth quake in Haiti, floods, prolonged drought, like in the case of Kenya and Zimbabwe, poor working conditions etc.
Are these not crimes against humanity? Who bares the greatest responsibility for these social and economic CRIMES?
The case of Kenya.
Inequality means that individuals don’t have equal opportunities to life of their free choice so that they are spared from extreme deprivation in out comes. This can be avoided by building strong democratic leadership, governance institutions and policies that promotes a level playing field where all community members have similar chances to become socially active, politically influential and economically productive.
The old constitution of Kenya had no clarity as to who the republic belong to. There was no specification on how people’s aspirations and needs were to be catered for.Perhaps this was the beginning of inequality.
On 27th August Kenyans caused a peaceful revolution by endorsing a new constitution that give them all the sovereign power, recognize the aspirations of all Kenyans for a government based on essential values of human rights,equality,freedom,democracy,social justice and the rule of law. These aspirations are very critical in the realization of a just, secure and peaceful society. For Kenyans, perhaps this is the middle of the journey to a promised land.
Inequality in relation to land ownership and access.
Land is a key asset to majority of Kenyans as in the case in many developing countries, whose livelihoods depends on it. Land ownership provides the owner with control over people who might need access to that land for their livelihoods or residence. It is a symbol of social status and security.
It was the main reason for the straggle for independence in Kenya whose slogan was freedom and land. Lack of land policy and contradicting land laws in Kenya has led to the never ending tribal clashed in Kenya.
There is therefore the inevitable intersection between land and power in our Country Kenya.
People who are landless are despised and regarded as destitute in many culture of Kenyan ethnic communities. Land is life to many communities because it is the key source of income.29% of Kenyans are landless majority of them in North Eastern 73.9%,Coast 50%, and Rift Valley 27%.Land issues are matters of live and death because the Government has not crafted policies that allows alternative economic development. That is massive investment in human resource, Industries, education among others.
Impunity is the exemption from punishment or loss. The amended set of principles for the protection of human rights through action to combat impunity defines impunity as, the impossibility de dure or de facto of bringing the perpetrators of violations to account-whether in criminal, civil, administrative or disciplinary proceedings-since they are not subject to inquiry that might lead to their being accused, arrested, tried and if found guilty, sentenced to appropriate penalties and to making reparations to their victims.
The first principal of the same document states that impunity arises from a failure by States to meet their obligations to investigate violations; to take appropriate measures in respect of perpetrators particularly in the area of justice by ensuring that those suspected of criminal responsibility are prosecuted, tried and duly punished;to provide victims with effective remedies and to ensure they receive reparation for the injuries suffered; to ensure the inalienability right to know the truth about violations; and to take other necessary steps to prevent a recurrence of violations.
Impunity is common in countries that lack a tradition of the rule of law, suffer from corruption or that have entrenched patronage or where judiciary is weak.
It is a common knowledge that during Kenyatta and Moi dictatorship regimes in Kenya, judiciary has been in existence to serve the executive presidency and as a tool of oppression not justice. These are the main reasons as to why; perpetrators of economic crimes like golden berg, Anglo-leasing land grabbing, tax evasion among others are walking scot free, perpetrators of gross violation of human rights some adversely mentioned in the report of the judicial commission of inquiry into tribal clashes in Kenya(Judge Akilano Akiumi commission) the Ndung’u report, the commission of into 2007-2008 post election violence to mention a few, have not brought to justice to account for their criminal or political responsibility. For a very long time, Kenya has been a police State whereby police have been arresting prosecuting and sentencing mostly victims of circumstances.
Regional disparities in the provision of basic services.
Nairobi and Central have higher roads density than other region in the Country. If the density of roads is examined against the geographical size of each region as well as population then it can be argued that there is no justification of this situation. North Eastern and Coast are the least served.
SOVEREIGNTY OF THE GLOBAL CITIZENS
As enshrined in the Kenyan constitution, all sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be practised in accordance with the constitution.
This should be adopted by the United Nation that all global powers shall belong to global citizens and shall be practised in accordance with their constitutions and international laws. It is the fundamental duty of the United Nations and member States to observer, respect, protect, promote and facilitate the enjoyment of human rights and freedoms to their citizens.
The United Nations and member States should be held accountable where no one is punished for crimes against humanity weather political, economic or social. People of the world should refuse to die and breathe life in practising non-violence in responding and resisting, repression, oppression, domination, brutality, war, terrorism and other neo-liberal capitalist globalization.
People of the World must resist the dominance of giant transnational corporations and financial markets in which the accumulation of power and profits are the goals. To them market values take precedence over human dignity and human rights.
We must tirelessly fight Neo liberal programs and policies which have resulted to escalating inequalities, exclusion and too often death.
In solidarity with the poor of the poorest and the working class, we should always demand for strong institutions that ensure the enjoyment of human rights and social justice now and forever!
NDUGU CHRISTOPHER MWAMBINGU
HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE CRUSADER-TATA TAVETA COUNTY-KENYA
THE STATUS OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT.