Differences between: Legal, Moral and Customary Rights Details on various NGO's that protect and define human rights.

Topics: Human rights, Law, Universal Declaration of Human Rights Pages: 5 (1559 words) Published: May 25, 2005
1. Distinguish between

a) Legal, Moral and Customary Rights.

A legal right is one that is enforceable by law. Any citizen and can discover these rights. They can validly be argued in court and generally take preference to other rights.

Moral rights are those that particular groups believe are right and just. They are generally derived from religion and reflect the values and attitudes of the group that holds them. Usually the moral rights held by the majority of the population are closely reflected in their legal rights. Moral rights vary depending on the group, for example, some groups believe men should have the right to take multiple wives. If there were a minority group who held such a belief in Australia, it would be illegal to practice that moral right because it is not a legal right.

Customary rights are borne out of age and habit. They are customs established long ago that have been practiced for a long time and are therefore established as 'the norm'. In some cases customary rights are enforceable by law - but not by definition. An example of a customary right is on a footpath, it is the custom to walk on the left hand side so that is an unwritten but unenforceable customary law.

b) Various Types of Individual and Collective Human Rights.

Civil and political rights concern political comment and public opinion. The point of these rights is to stop oppression and allow freedom of expression. Civil and political rights detail things like anonymity, freedom of expression and peaceful protest. They protect the citizen's rights to speak out against her country and in some cases are back up by legal rights.

Social and cultural rights concern groups' right to practice cultural traditions and services. This ranges from the simple right to be in a group to the right to practice rituals or be officially recognised by the state.

A collective human right is of self-determination. This is the right to make decisions about one's economic, social and cultural development. The International Court of Justice defines it as "The need to pay regard to the freely expressed will of peoples." It is a more politically correct way of stating the right to a democracy. This right concerns (but is not limited to); people's right to vote in state elections, decide their occupation, their language and their religion. It is not the same as social/cultural rights in that it is primarily concerned with voting for and choosing one's future.

2. Outline the major international declarations/agreements conceived with the aim of protecting human rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a list of thirty articles concerning civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, adopted and proclaimed in 1948 to be displayed and made available in every country of the world. It mentions freedoms of; speech, property, political persuasion, religion, occupation, movement and government. It disallows; slavery, the loss of personal liberties, arbitrary detainment, violence, forced marriage and arbitrary interference. This declaration is widely respected and has set a standard that is yet to be reached. Unfortunately it is still soft law i.e. "not directly enforceable in courts and tribunals but that nonetheless ha[s] an impact on international relations and, ultimately, international law." The covenants below were established because it is soft law.

In 1976 the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was entered into force. The articles are of a very similar nature and idea to those of the Universal Declaration but the Covenant is designed to be capable of legal enforcement and therefore requires more credibility and realism. Because of this extra difficulty it took two years to draft. There was added difficulty in its production because of the precise and in-depth nature of the Universale Declaration. As a Danish delegate argued "[i]t would clearly be undesirable merely to transpose the...
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