Sample Essay Paper on Human Right Law Failures


Many human rights treaties and agreements were signed after the Second World War by most countries across the world. This period was also accompanied by the formation of different recognized bodies throughout the world that were to deal with and implement human rights. Some of the common treaties and bodies established include the International Bill of Rights and formation of the United Nations. Other important bodies that were formed to advance and implement most of the human rights include the African Union, the Organization of American States, and the Council of Europe. However, after the inception of all of these bodies, numerous instances of human rights abuse have still been felt across the world. Most objectives that had initially been set forth by most of these bodies have never been accomplished to date. Some parties have completely ignored being part of these bodies, especially when they engage in forms of acts that are considered to go against the acceptable standards set in laws governing human rights. This paper provides a critical analysis showing that human rights law has failed to achieve its stated objectives in society.

Definition of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all persons are born free and they are supposed to be treated with dignity and rights[1]. This article endorses a sense of fulfillment among many people, especially when it is fulfilled to its conclusion. Human rights refer to rights that justifiably belong to an individual. Human rights are associated with several important characteristics.[2] First, they are inherent because they are never supposed to be guaranteed by a person or group. Immediately an individual is born, human rights already set in. Secondly, human rights are inalienable since they cannot be taken away from an individual. They cannot be given or forfeited by any party. They are also imprescriptible since they cannot lose meaning even if they are not being applied or enforced by different entities. Human rights are universal and they are supposed to be provided to all individuals irrespective of an individual country of origin, color, or race[3]. Human rights are also interdependent since the fulfillment of one cannot hinder the other rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights began earnestly in 1948 by the United Nations general assembly. It was immediately formulated after the Second World War in a bid to salvage the world from starting another war within itself. The declaration came up with a long list of rights that were ratified by most countries that were members of the United Nations. All countries that are members of the United Nations are supposed to implement all laws relating to human rights as advocated for in the declaration[4]. Some people believe that the declaration was majorly influenced by the United States, which became a superpower after the Second World War

Several weaknesses were already noted after the formulation of the declaration.  In essence, it was never a treaty since it had not been declared to be so. From the initial period, many parties failed to be legally bound by the obligations. The declaration was only approved by the general assembly while others considered this to be a form of ratification. The rights formulated in the declaration were considered to be vague and never reflected the true image in different countries. It opened up new, different methods that could be used to interpret what the clauses really meant. The United States did not commit itself during this period to end segregation. British and France never showed interest in surrendering their colonies or giving people their freedoms. Other authoritarian states, such as Saudi Arabia and most Asian countries that believed in other forms of laws never voted on the issue and instead choose to abstain from such a law. The words that made the universal declaration may have been inspiring but most states never believed in the existence of these laws[5]. From the initial periods, the law was headed towards failure. Such issues never made any sense to the Soviet Union. They believed that human rights were only made of economical and social rights. These rights included the right to work, healthcare, and education. They never acknowledged the existence of political rights. They created the cold war because they believed that either country across the world was liberal democracies or socialists. It took more than eighteen years before the two countries settled on an agreement. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was signed in 1976 to combine all the issues advocated for by different parties in society[6]. The world was already divided on how the application of human rights would become a relevant issue, especially after two major world powers had spent years advocating for socialism and liberalism

Failure of Human Rights to Achieve its Objectives

            Most countries across the world signed various packs and treaties to recognize human rights. However, the same countries have disregarded most of the signed agreements as they relate to international human rights. Their continued disregard has resulted in failed objectives. There are nine core treaties that govern human rights across all parts of the world. However, most of these treaties have been ignored on a daily basis. In most Islamic countries, women lack equality, and most religious dissenters are persecuted while their political freedoms are denied. International law recognizes equality for all people irrespective of gender or religious inclination. However, in the above case, human rights laws have been mum on issues relating to discrimination against women and religious freedoms. Discrimination on religion has not only been practiced in these countries but also moved forth in other countries. A common example was in the case of Abdul-Aziz Cabales and Balkandali Vs.  In the UK where the plaintiffs argued that they had been discriminated against due to their religion while working in the United Kingdom[7]. The country also went against immigration policies when it failed to allow husbands of the plaintiffs to join their wives in the country. This highlighted one of the key areas that were being left out by most countries across the world. The complete disregard of immigration laws in a country, such as the United Kingdom raises numerous issues. This was an example of a case where individuals came to the limelight advocating for their rights. Major questions arise concerning individuals who are suffering in silence. Discrimination of individuals in the society basing on their religion has been used in many countries without the state coming out to use international laws to address such an issue. Their silence raises a lot of questions about their ability to implement human rights laws. Another immigration case that showed the failure of international law was the case of Minister of State for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs v Teoh[8]. In this case, Teoh a Malaysian citizen married an Australian after being granted permits of entry into the country. They had a child, and when Teoh applied for a residence permit in Australia, the letter was denied, and instead, he was told that some conditions were not fulfilled. One major requirement was that Teoh had a poor criminal record something that did not exist. Teoh was later deported out of the country. Essentially, international laws state that once individuals are married to a citizen of a country, they attain citizenship of a country by being virtually married to a spouse. The case findings depicted a state that had gone against the required standards and procedures that were acceptable within the international community. Other similar cases related to the case of Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs v. QAAH of 2004[9]. Such cases show that different countries have failed to follow human rights law concerning issues, such as immigration.

Another major human right issues that raise controversy is the use of torture in different countries across the world. Nearly, all countries are part of the United Nations have ratified all laws regarding torture in their constitution. Immediately countries become part of the United Nations, they are supposed to play a critical role in implementing all laws ratified by the United Nations[10]. Countries still use torture as a means of sourcing information among different suspects, yet it still goes against the set principles and laws of what they have signed. This lack of commitment to follow the required laws has brought a lot of issues in society. More than 130 countries across the world still torture all their suspects despite relevant laws being in place, for instance, the case of Al-Skeini and others v. Secretary of State for Defence. In this case, the members of the British armed forces brutally tortured six Iraqis to their death. The relatives of the family members applied for a review of the circumstances in which the lives of the six Iraqis had been taken. The United Kingdom is following the United Convention on Human Rights especially when it comes to the use of torture in the United States. The above case law highlights the numerous violations depicted by armed forces of different countries, which goes against the accepted standards of society. Numerous incidences of torture have been reported from most armed forces of different countries due to the use of methods that are not acceptable since they do not follow the set down principles ratified in their constitutions. Another similar case that involves the loss of life of people due to the use of torture activities was the case of The Public Committee against Torture in Israel and Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment v. The Government of Israel [et al.][11]. Israel as a nation used air bomb strikes to kill terrorists planning any attacks against them. Essentially, the attack killed more than one hundred and fifty civilians who were not connected to the war between Israel and the terrorist. The United Nations has strict policies that relate to the engagement of any war activities. The United Nations does not include civilians in any war and killing them goes against the set laws governing the United Nations. The Hague principles on the Geneva Convention where Israel is a major nation does not allow bombing of other countries, and thus, actions showed direct violations of international law that govern nearly all laws of the land. International law dealing with armed conflict requires that civilians are not part of the war between different parties. It requires that civilians are left out of any war between different factions. Another major case that relates to the use of torture by various government mechanisms includes the case of Agiza V Sweden [12]. In the above case, the individual was arrested by police after one family member was associated with the murder of the Egyptian president. Agiza was subsequently tortured for information and filed a petition against the Swedish government for violating international rights relating to the use of torture of individuals.

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights requires that governments provide their citizens with access to affordable housing or shelter. The government should aim to ensure that all its citizens live in a safe environment. However, most governments have failed to provide adequate and affordable forms of shelter for their people. This has raised a lot of questions relating to their implementation of one of the basic rights of its people. Numerous slums where people live in worse conditions have been established. These slums do not meet the required criteria for housing standards. Most governments have failed to implement most of the required rights that have been set forth by the United Nations. The government of the Republic of South Africa and Others v Grootboom and Others provides the perfect example[13]. In this case, respondents were evicted by a private land developer from a piece of land, which was to be used to build a low-income house for all its citizens. Immediately after this happened, the respondents decided to sue the government for failing to provide adequate shelter for them and their families. The high court of South Africa held several findings concerning this case. It stated that the government had an obligation to provide adequate shelter for all its citizens. They also stated that this obligation existed irrespective of the need for new legislation. The state was also supposed to provide shelter irrespective of the resources that were available[14]. In other words, the government should follow the ratified laws governing human rights laws. The appellant in the case who represented the government appealed against the said condition. Such an appeal showed that the government of South Africa was not following the ratified laws that are supposed to govern their behaviors within and outside the confines of its nation. It shows that most countries were determined to go against the set ratified laws that had been placed on them.

Segregation of individuals basing on their color in the education system has been a major issue of concern for many countries across the world. Racism and other segregation tendencies have been applied in society without due regard to laws that were ratified by different countries. A good pointing case would be the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1945. The decision of the Supreme Court was to abolish all racial tendencies in schools to allow children to read in the same public schools. The court was overturning an earlier decision that had been made that allowed the establishment of schools basing on skin color. Although this ruling was welcomed by many members of the society, it never provided a solution to how racial discrimination among schools would be stopped[15]. As a consequence, there still existed schools that only took students basing on their skin color. Although there was an outcry by numerous members of the society, less attention was given to the court ruling. This again showed the continued disregard of following different laws that had been ratified by most countries especially when it came to issues that dealt with human rights in the society.


Most of the above cases provide information on why most governments have failed to implement most ratified laws into their universal laws. Some scholars have argued that most of the international treaties and more specifically the United Nation Declaration are ambiguous plans that failed to outline how they were going to implement most of the issues that arose from the different cases that emerged[16]. Essentially, most of these rights are similar to a toothless dog; they can only bark, but they do not bite. The states are supposed to implement most of these human rights and remain within the confines of the law. The numerous cases that have been discussed reveal an ugly truth. Many countries are unwilling to implement most of the ratified laws due to some domestic issues that raise conflicts.

Furthermore, many nations that have not implemented most of these statutes have not been imposed with strong fines. In fact, the major superpower countries have refused to be part of some necessary ratification, such as entry into the International Criminal Court. They have chosen to be bystanders[17]. The United States is an example of a country that is not a member of the international body. The other countries, therefore, fail to recognize that there is a selective application of these laws since they do not apply the same way to the more developed country.

International human rights law is not short of laws that dictate the rights and freedoms of individuals in society. The laws lack a body that can force most states to implement most of the practices that have been signed into law by different powers. What has been observed from most countries has been the continued disregard implementation of most basic rights and freedoms without any dire consequences. Sometimes major superpowers may choose to impose sanctions on countries that are not making progress, especially when it comes to observing human rights laws[18]. When other nations impose sanctions on different countries, they fail to alleviate the condition of the ordinary people in the society. Instead, they deny more people basic rights and freedoms in society. This also creates tension between different areas across the world, making it difficult for all parties to engage in a long-lasting solution.




Chowdhury A and Bhuiyan J, An Introduction To International Human Rights Law (Brill 2010)

Freeman M and Ert G, International Human Rights Law (Irwin Law 2004)

Moeckli D and others, International Human Rights Law (2nd ed, Oxford University Press            2014)

Provost R, International Human Rights And Humanitarian Law (Cambridge University Press        2002)

Smith R, Textbook On International Human Rights (5th ed, Oxford University Press 2012)

[1] Azizur Rahman Chowdhury and Jahid Hossain Bhuiyan, An Introduction To International Human Rights Law (Brill 2010).

[2]Azizur Rahman Chowdhury and Jahid Hossain Bhuiyan, An Introduction To International Human Rights Law (Brill 2010).

[3] Mark Freeman and Gibran van Ert, International Human Rights Law (Irwin Law 2004).

[4] Mark Freeman and Gibran van Ert, International Human Rights Law (Irwin Law 2004).

[5] Mark Freeman and Gibran van Ert, International Human Rights Law (Irwin Law 2004).

[6] Mark Freeman and Gibran van Ert, International Human Rights Law (Irwin Law 2004).

[7] Daniel Moeckli and others, International Human Rights Law (2nd edn, Oxford University Press 2014).

[8] Rhona Smith, Textbook On International Human Rights (5th edn, Oxford University Press 2012).

[9] Rhona Smith, Textbook On International Human Rights (5th edn, Oxford University Press 2012).

[10] Daniel Moeckli and others, International Human Rights Law (2nd edn, Oxford University Press 2014).

[11] Daniel Moeckli and others, International Human Rights Law (2nd edn, Oxford University Press 2014).

[12] Daniel Moeckli and others, International Human Rights Law (2nd edn, Oxford University Press 2014).

[13] Rhona Smith, Textbook On International Human Rights (5th edn, Oxford University Press 2012).

[14] Rhona Smith, Textbook On International Human Rights (5th edn, Oxford University Press 2012).

[15] René Provost, International Human Rights And Humanitarian Law (Cambridge University Press 2002).

[16] Rhona Smith, Textbook On International Human Rights (5th edn, Oxford University Press 2012).

[17] Rhona Smith, Textbook On International Human Rights (5th edn, Oxford University Press 2012).

[18] Rhona Smith, Textbook On International Human Rights (5th edn, Oxford University Press 2012).