Regional human rights institutions
Md Mustakimur Rahman | Published:
March 01, 2016 22:14:08
October 18, 2017 04:22:14
The idea of human rights is not limited only to the United Nations but also extended to the different regions of the world. Although the basic structures of human rights are more or less the same around the world, the human rights bodies are different in different regions. The reasons of their differences are distinct cultures, economies, and social values of the various regions. At present, there are three regional human rights bodies with different aims and objectives. These are: the Council of Europe, Organisation of American States, and the African Union.
Council of Europe: The Convention on European Human Rights (ECHR) was signed in 1950 and came into force in 1953. It has two enforcement bodies: European Court of Human Rights and European Commission of Human Rights. The Commission has the power to receive application directly from individual victims and state parties. If the application is admissible, the Commission can take the application to the European Court of Human Rights. The state party cannot ignore any judgment of the court. It is the most effective and successful human rights institution in the world.
Oorganisation of American States: The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights is another regional Human Rights Commission for American states. It is an autonomous organ.
The Commission has three pillars: individual petition system, monitoring of the human rights situations and the attention devoted to priority thematic areas. It has the clout to select Special Rapporteur and perform an advisory function, but the advisory service is not mandatory.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has two functions: individual petition and advisory function. Under the Inter-American system, any individual or group, or any NGO which is legally recognised in any member-state of the Organisation can file petition to access their right. In case of serious violation of human rights, the court has power to espouse special measure to reduce the risk of harm. In addition, the court may provide compensation for violation of human rights which is protected by the American Convention.
African Union and their Human Rights: The African Union established the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights in 1998. The court has the power to deliver advisory opinion by the request of member states. It has also jurisdiction to hear cases from individuals and NGOs. It is the youngest regional human rights organisation. The main focus of African human rights is not on individual rights like European or Inter-American human rights. Individual rights are not sufficiently protected in African Union.
There is, however, no human rights body in Asia. It is a big disappointment for the peoples in Asia.
Except the European Human Rights Court (ECHR), the other two regional human rights courts are not sufficiently effective and successful to protect and promote human rights. In addition, it is not mandatory for state parties to follow the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Thus the world needs an institution which may cover all human rights issues across the globe.
The writer is a legal research assistant at the Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs (BILIA).