Human rights shall not be above national sovereignty (Part 1)

29/07/2017

Amidst vibrant globalization, human rights garner constant international attention. Against this backdrop, hostile forces are stepping up their activities against Vietnam’s Communist Party and political regime. They claim “superiority of human rights over national sovereignty”. Is this the case? Chief among hostile forces’ sabotage is Vietnam’s human rights record. It should be noted that hostile forces have expanded in size, ranging from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) financially and politically abet by foreign countries such as Freedom House (FH), Amnesty International (AI), Reporters sans frontières (RSF), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Human Rights Watch (HRW), to anti-communist Members of Parliaments in Europe, Canada, Germany, Australia, reactionary Vietnamese in exile and various opportunists, including owners of illegal websites and administrators of anti-communist Facebook pages. Their main artifice is to employ the label of democracy and human rights issues via Annual Reports with a view to slandering and libeling the Vietnamese State. They keep a remarkably close watch on Vietnam’s situation, especially detentions of offenders of “conducting propaganda against the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” (under Article 88 of the Penal Code), acting against law enforcers and fomenting social unrest. They “call for” the release of “prisoners of conscience” and “denounce” functional agencies’ illegal detention. They repeat such obsolete labels as “Vietnam’s political regime is dictatorial and totalitarian”, “Vietnam seriously infringes human rights, especially rights to freedom of speech, the press and internet, which are “inherent” to people”. In addition, they deliberately misquote regulations in Chapter II of Vietnam’s 2013 Constitution on “Human rights, fundamental rights and obligations of citizens” in order to excuse their misdeeds. With misquotations of Vietnam’s 2013 Constitution, many a self-proclaimed and “political scientist” and “scholar”, maintains that “Human rights are above national sovereignty” or “Human rights are borderless”, and so on.
On account of those claims, they incite illegal activities, thereby providing a pretext for external interference in Vietnam’s internal affairs with willing accomplice by extremist forces, self-proclaimed dissidents at home and reactionary organizations abroad. A case in point is the advent of the “Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (S.2943)” under the “ “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA)”, resulting from intense political pressure by the US’s far-right forces and imposed on other countries, including Vietnam on the pretext of the latter’s breaches of human rights.
Are their deeds and claims in tune with the international public awareness of human rights? What are their political motives?
First and foremost, what is the international public awareness of human rights? Historically, pundits and scholars tend to rely on the most universal documents as follows: the UK’s 1689 Bill of Rights, the US’s 1776 Declaration of Independence and 1789 Bill of Rights, France’s 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, the 1945 UN Charter, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights  and other international covenants on human rights adopted by the UN. Among those are two fundamental covenants, the 1966  International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Alongside with the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, both of them constitute the International Bill of Human Rights.
Accordingly, the concept of human rights is comprised of two fundamentals. As a philosophical and humanistic value, human rights cover the followings: (1) Dignity, construed as material conditions (food and housing, etc.) and spiritual ones (recognized as a human person entitled to statutory rights) (2) Freedom, construed as the right to do anything which is not prohibited by law (3) Equality.  Everyone is entitled to all the rights without distinction of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. (4) Humanity and clemency (5) Social responsibilities. Despite being entitled to all the rights, everyone may be subject to certain restrictions “to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others” (Item 3, Article 18, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) and  “for the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals” (Item 3, Article 19, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). As such, there is no question of “superiority of human rights to the national sovereignty”, or “individuals’ immunity from social responsibilities”. In other words, human rights shall be subject to national law while not infringing the rights of society and other individuals without distinction of national or social origin.

As a legal value, human rights cover statutes (by international and national law) on protecting and ensuring dignity, material and spiritual needs and benefits of all persons as well as their duties to other individuals and to the community. As such, this concept clearly points out that every person is the subject of the rights while the State undertakes to respect and protect the rights. It should be noted that according to fundamental documents adopted by the UN, instead of being confined to the individual rights, the concept of human rights covers the rights of States, peoples and collective rights, especially those of vulnerable social groups. Concerning the rights of States and peoples, under Article 1 (Part I, 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”. This stipulates that any State has the right to freedom of political regimes and legal systems without interference from any individual, State, and even the UN. Under the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the World Conference on Human Rights  reaffirms “the denial of the right of self-determination as a violation of human rights”. At the Conference, the concept “particularity” of human rights came into existence for the first time: “The international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis. While the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, it is the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms”. This lays a philosophical and political foundation for differences in human rights between States and peoples. That is to say that not a single national legal system serves as a yardstick of others’, thereby denouncing the latter as being against “global benchmarks of human rights” and “violation of human rights”.
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All comments [ 10 ]


MaskOf Zero 2/8/17 21:09

Traditionally, the promotion of Human Rights and the concept of state sovereignty have been fundamentally opposed.

John Smith 2/8/17 21:12

It is important to note that theoretically, any such promotion of universal Human Rights by the international community is a restraint on a states’ sovereignty.

Love Peace 2/8/17 21:14

From what we have explored so far, it would seem that the promotion of Human Rights has embarked upon a successful challenge to the concept of state sovereignty.

Gentle Moon 2/8/17 21:15

Dominant understandings of sovereignty (and Human Rights) have indeed been significantly reshaped. Nevertheless sovereignty remains strong and, at least with respect to Human Rights, largely unchallenged.

yobro yobro 2/8/17 21:16

The sovereign state is the predominant form of political organization in the modern world. Sovereign states confer rights on individual citizens, using laws and policies to secure these rights within the territory of the state.

LawrenceSamuels 2/8/17 21:17

Treaties and trade policies are made between sovereign states, and state leaders guide the decisions made through the United Nations.

Jane smartnic 2/8/17 21:19

When a sovereign state cannot, or will not, fulfill its obligations toward its citizens, what should happen?

Deck Hero14 2/8/17 21:21

States human right duties are exclusive to their own nationals.

Only Solidar 2/8/17 21:22

The international community is well informed of Human Rights violations and abuse, but has very little statutory power to do anything.

Pack Cassiopian 2/8/17 21:23

The implementation and enforcement of such rights are left to individual states and their respective territories.

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