Inalienable rights are nothing, but human rights. Encyclopaedia Britannica says; human rights are rights that belong to an individual or group of individuals simply for being human, or as a consequence of inherent human vulnerability, or because they are requisite to the possibility of a just society. Whatever their theoretical justification, human rights refer to a wide continuum of values or capabilities thought to enhance human agency or protect human interests and declared to be universal in character, in some sense equally claimed for all human beings, present and future.
Human beings everywhere require the realization of diverse values or capabilities to ensure their individual and collective well-being. This requirement-whether conceived or expressed as a moral or a legal demand-is often painfully frustrated by social as well as natural forces, resulting in exploitation, oppression, persecution, and other forms of deprivation. Deeply rooted in these twin observations are the beginnings of what today are called “human rights” and the national and international legal processes associated with them.
Originally, individuals had rights only because of their membership in a group, such as a family or social class. History says; in 539 B.C., Cyrus the Great (King of Persia [today’s Iran] as Cyrus II) after conquering the city of Babylon, set a precedent-he freed all slaves to return home. Moreover, he declared people had the right to choose their own religion. The Cyrus Cylinder, a clay tablet containing these proclamations, is considered the first human rights declaration as long as history is concerned. The idea of individual rights spread quickly to India, Greece and eventually Rome.
Ancient Greece and Rome, as to various sources, were venues traced as origins of the concept of human rights by most students of human rights. The doctrines of the Stoics, who held that human conduct should be judged according to, and brought into harmony with the law of nature, are closely tied to these antiquities. Hence, it can be said that human beings knew the intrinsic relations of human rights and the laws of nature long ago. According to the Roman jurist Ulpian (Domitius Ulpianus), for example; natural law was that which nature, not the state, assures to all human beings, Roman citizens or not.
Mother Nature, by her very right, has got multitudes of rights and obligations. Most of the rights that Mother Nature freely endows are virtually accompanied by duties and obligations. We the inhabitants of the earth, the tiny portion of the vast, limitless and infinite nature are innately bound to these rights and duties, whether we like it or not. If we violate some of them, we certainly expose ourselves to various phases of dangers that affect our lives. Such vicious outcomes occur because Mother Nature has got laws.
The laws of nature exist independent of human thoughts. Humans neither legislate, nor alter the laws of nature. They are out there by themselves, boldly and proudly, by nature. Human beings, for the last several centuries, tried to control or at least deal with the laws of nature to
some extent. Nevertheless, no one; including Sir Isaac Newton and/or Albert Einstein have ever managed to do so. These two great personalities, along with other prodigious people like the German theoretical physicist Max Planck, who was well-known for his contributions to Physics in Quantum Mechanics, tried to recognize the formulation and operation of some laws of nature.
Whatsoever, we human beings in-general, could have never identified all or most laws of nature. Even those we think we came in touch, we simply are there to define how they work and how to better use them. Yet, we sometimes violate the inalienable rights of nature which perform better if remain intact. For instance; we emit tremendous carbon to the atmosphere and shake the foundations of our own generous Mother Nature. The Global Warmth, the explicit example of violation of nature’s inalienable rights, is nowadays, a major roadblock of the persistence of humanity on earth.
Let’s be back on the track to regurgitate some brief memories on the evolvement of human rights. The first article of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen adopted by the National Assembly during the French Revolution on August 26, 1789, and reaffirmed by the constitution of 1958 reads:
“Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be based only on considerations of the common good.”
The document, which was devised two centuries and three decades ago, was 17 articles long. As to it, the National Assembly recognized and declared the declaration in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being with the following preamble:
“The representatives of the French people, formed into a National Assembly, considering ignorance, forgetfulness or contempt of the rights of man to be the only causes of public misfortunes and the corruption of Governments, have resolved to set forth, in a solemn Declaration, the natural, unalienable, and sacred rights of man, to the end that this Declaration, constantly present to all members of the body politic, may remind them unceasingly of their rights and their duties; to the end that the acts of the legislative power and those of the executive power, since they may be continually compared with the aim of every political institution, may thereby be the more respected; to the end that the demands of the citizens, founded henceforth on simple and un-contestable principles, may always be directed toward the maintenance of the Constitution and the happiness of all.”
The thing is we humans should always remember that we are endowed with inalienable rights and obligations in addition to and/or linked with the nature’s natural laws. Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America and draftsman of the Declaration of Independence of the United States, in his sound document wrote:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
All the hitherto societies, almost for the last two and half centuries, regarded Jefferson’s conclusion as morally just, ethically profound and politically valid. The cornerstone has been cited by numerous political enthusiasts across the planet and Thomas Jefferson himself is long regarded as America’s most distinguished “apostle of liberty”. Both in the United States and abroad, he remains an incandescent icon, an inspirational symbol for the two major U.S. political parties, as well as for dissenters in Communist China, liberal reformers in Central and Eastern Europe, and aspiring democrats in Africa and Latin America.
In spite of such outstanding personal contributions, it is quite obvious that it has taken millennia for civilizations to develop human rights. According to the HumanRights.com, little by little, often after much bloodshed, the concept that rights should apply to everyone became widely accepted. But it took two devastative world wars and the deaths of tens of millions of people to bring the leading nations together to create a truly universal charter of rights.
The 1948’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the world’s premier human rights instrument. It proclaims thirty rights to which every human being is entitled. Its opening paragraph is a powerful affirmation of the principles that lie at the heart of the modern human rights system:
“Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”
Yet, HumanRights.com says; a wide gap exists between the articulation of these goals and their accomplishment. Millions are not free. Justice is often inequitable. And peace continues to elude many regions of the world. Bridging the enormous gulf between the ideal of universal human rights and the reality of widespread human rights violations is what drives human rights advocates. In its preamble and in Article 01, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights unequivocally proclaims the inherent rights of all human beings:
“Disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people… All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
Nonetheless, as it’s aforementioned, the biggest hindrance with human rights is being irregular in practice throughout the planet. Honestly saying, there is no place on earth where human rights are not violated. The question is: Why? Why do the fellow human beings trespass the clear-cut inalienable rights red-mark of their compatriots and people elsewhere? When will human beings exercise such glamorous rights to the fullest standard? Only the Supreme Deity knows. We can only assume responses but can’t, I think, respond to these questions satisfactorily.
Ethiopia, as a founding member of the UN, adopted and endorsed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights along with the International Bill of Human Rights and incorporated them as an integral part of the law of the land. The 1995 constitution of the country, in its Article 10 sub-article 01 of the 2nd chapter, which mentions about the fundamental principles of the constitution, reads:
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“Human rights and freedoms, emanating from the nature of mankind, are inviolable and inalienable.”
The human rights part of the constitution comprises 15 articles as part one of the fundamental rights and freedoms. For instance, among them is Article 15, which is about the right to life: “Every person has the right to life. No person may be deprived of his life except as a punishment for a serious criminal offense determined by law.”
The succeeding article, Article 16 is also about the right of the security of a given person. As a result, it can be easily concluded that human rights are defended by the law of the land in Ethiopia. But, is what is on the ground congruent to whatever the decrees in the documents across the world? For me, absolutely no!
In Ethiopia, since the very day of reform that commenced a couple of years ago within the EPRDF, which later changed to the Prosperity Party, a new horizon of peace and stability started to spark at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so long to witness dark spots even after the advent of the reform led by the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner, His Excellence Abiy Ahmed (PhD), Prime Minister of the FDRE. The all unpleasant things happen in Ethiopia disregarding the constitutional decree of the nation in sub-article 01 of Article 28:
“Criminal liability of persons who commit crimes against humanity, so defined by international agreements ratified by Ethiopia and by other laws of Ethiopia, such as genocide, summary executions, forcible disappearances or torture shall not be barred by statute of limitation. Such offences may not be commuted by amnesty or pardon of the legislature or any other state organ.”
How on earth do we ignore such a glittering decree? Most importantly, why inalienable rights get violated? What details set motives for violators to deprive others of their inherent rights? Why does the no man’s land disparity occur in national consensus?
Just to begin responding to the why element of the violation of inalienable rights of humanity, the abnormal urge for sexual pleasure and sometimes, the armed conflict which could eventually lead to rape can be regarded as a reason for trespassing the personal right of a person. Rape, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica, is an act of sexual intercourse with an individual without his/her consent, through force or the threat of force.
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