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Human Right term paper

"African societies, many have argued, are characterized by strong emphasis on group membership. According to Chris Mojekwu, "The concept of human rights in Africa was fundamentally based on ascribed status. . . One who had lost his membership in a social unit or one who did not belong - an outcast or a stranger - lived outside the range of human rights protection by the social unit." In other words, rights were tied directly to group membership: those outsiders differed in status and hence in the rights they enjoyed; within the group, ascription resulted in lower levels of liberties and privileges. The point is that "traditional" African societies had limited conceptions of rights inherent in individuals. As Howard has observed, this is a conception of human dignity, not of inalienable or innate human rights. Speaking generally, inequalities exist in all societies. Many persons are excluded from full participation on the basis of categorical differences. Most notably, women and resident aliens are liable to unequal treatment on the simple basis of gender, citizenship, or culture. The noble words of the United Nations Charter - that the UN shall promote "universal respect for and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion" - remain unrealized. For change to come, efforts will be necessary both from inside particular societies and from outside them."


"Serving as a secondary element in the system's legal basis is the Statute of the Council of Europe, the regional organization whose concern for human rights provided the immediate impetus for the development of the Convention. This concern is expressed first in the Statute's Preamble, in which the Contracting Parties reaffirm "their devotion to the spiritual and moral values which are the common heritage of their peoples and true source of individual freedoms, political liberty, and the rule of law, principles which form the basis of all genuine democracy." The concern for human rights that characterized the Council's founders was given even more explicit expression in the first two articles of the Statute. The first of these states the purpose of the organization as achieving a greater unity among its Members, a goal whose attainment is to be sought through a number of means, including "the maintenance and further realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms." The second article places upon each of the Council's Members the obligation "to accept the principles of the rule of law and of the enjoyment by all persons within its jurisdiction of human rights and fundamental freedoms." Underlying and serving as an inspiration for the Council's concern for human rights were the suffering these countries had undergone as a result of one form of totalitarianism, that of the Hitler regime in Germany, and the threat posed in the post-World War II era by another, Communism. The Council's leaders were convinced that one way to prevent a recurrence of fascist totalitarianism and to counter the Communist challenge was to create some international mechanism to detect the first signs of an incipient dictatorship and take appropriate countermeasures."


"Human rights concerns surrounding acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) are both political and medical. Discrimination based on actual or suspected infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an especially pressing concern. Other human rights standards important in the context of HIV/AIDS are education, including access to information about HIV; health, including the right to equal access to means of prevention of HIV; privacy, including the right to keep medical tests secret; and freedom from sexual exploitation and violence. AIDS was first identified in 1981. Initially, little was known about how the disease spread, which resulted in people with AIDS (PWAs) often being the targets of fear and discrimination. It was subsequently discovered that AIDS spreads in a variety of ways, including unprotected sexual intercourse and the sharing of needles by intravenous drug users. In the industrialized world one of the populations most profoundly affected by the disease was homosexual men. Fear of AIDS has provided an excuse for homophobia and has fed into hate crimes and other human rights violations of homosexuals. Worldwide, nearly twelve million people have died from AIDS, and thirty million more are living with AIDS or HIV. Approximately ten million of these PWAs are between ten and twenty-four years old. Sixteen thousand people are newly infected with HIV every day. If no cure is found, the thirty million people who currently have HIV could be dead within ten years. Discrimination based on actual or suspected HIV infection is a violation of international law norms. Despite this, in 1989 an HIV-positive Dutch citizen was denied entry into the United States to speak at an AIDS conference in San Francisco. Currently, PWAs are not allowed to immigrate into the United States, although the attorney general may waive that regulation if the person has family already in the United States."
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