performed by children, often under hazardous or exploitative conditions.
This does not include all work done by kids: children everywhere,
for example, do chores to help their families. The 1989 UN Convention
on the Rights of the Child calls for protection “against economic
exploitation and against carrying out any job that might endanger
well-being or educational opportunities, or that might be harmful
to health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral, or social development”
RIGHTS: The rights of citizens to liberty and equality (for
example, freedom to access information or to vote).
AND POLITICAL RIGHTS: The rights of citizens to liberty
and equality; sometimes referred to as first generation rights.
Civil rights include freedom to worship, to think and express oneself,
to vote, to take part in political life, and to have access to information.
codify: Process of reducing customary international law
to written form.
ON HUMAN RIGHTS: Body formed by the Economic and SOCIAL
COUNCIL (ECOSOC) of the UN to deal with human rights; one of the
first and most important international human rights bodies.
Binding agreement between states; used synonymously with
TREATY and COVENANT. Conventions are stronger than DECLARATIONS
because they are legally binding for governments that have signed
them. When the UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY adopts a convention, it creates
international norms and standards. Once a convention is adopted
by the UN General Assembly, MEMBER STATES can then RATIFY the convention,
promising to uphold it. Govern ments that violate the standards
set forth in a convention can then be censured by the UN.
ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN
(adopted 1979; entered into force 1981): The first legally
binding international document prohibiting discrimination against
women and obligating governments to take affirmative steps to advance
the equality of women. Abbreviated CEDAW.
ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD (adopted 1989; entered into force
1990): Convention setting forth a full spectrum of civil, cultural,
economic, social, and political rights for children. Abbreviated
Binding agreement between states; used synonymously with
CONVENTION and TREATY. The major international human rights covenants,
both passed in 1966, are the INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND
POLITICAL RIGHTS (ICCPR) and the INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC,
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS (ICESCR).
RIGHTS: The right to preserve and enjoy one’s cultural identity
INTERNATIONAL LAW: Law that becomes binding on states although
it is not written, but rather adhered to out of custom; when enough
states have begun to behave as though something is law, it becomes
law “by use”; this is one of the main source of international law.
DECLARATION: Document stating agreed upon standards but
which is not legally binding. UN conferences, like the 1993 UN Conference
on Human Rights in Vienna and the 1995 World Conference for Women
in Beijing, usually produce two sets of declarations: one written
by government representatives and one by NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS
(NGOs). The UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY often issues influential but legally
AND SOCIAL COUNCIL: A UN council of 54 members concerned
principally with the fields of population, economic development,
human rights, and criminal justice. This high-ranking body receives
and discharges human rights reports in a variety of circumstances.
RIGHTS: Rights that concern the production, development,
and management of material for the necessities of life. See SOCIAL
AND ECONOMIC RIGHTS.
CULTURAL, AND DEVELOPMENTAL RIGHTS: Sometimes referred to
as third generation rights, these rights recognize that people have
the right to live in a safe and healthy environment and that groups
of people have the right to cultural, political, and economic development.
ZONE: An industrial area in which a country allows foreign
companies to import material for production and export finished
goods without paying significant taxes or duties (fees to the government).
A free-trade zone thus decreases a company's production costs.
RIGHTS: The rights people are entitled to simply because
they are human beings, irrespective of their citizenship, nationality,
race, ethnicity, language, sex, sexuality, or abilities; human rights
become enforceable when they are codified as conventions, covenants,
or treaties, or as they become recognized as customary international
Refers to rights that belong to every person and cannot
be taken from a person under any circumstances.
Refers to the equal importance of each human rights law.
A person cannot be denied a right because someone decides it is
“less important” or “non-essential.”
Refers to the complimentary framework of human rights law.
For example, your ability to participate in your government is directly
affected by your right to express yourself, to get an education,
and even to obtain the necessities of life.
bill of rights: The combination of these three documents:
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
Covenant on CIVIL and POLITICAL Rights (Adopted 1966, entered
into force 1976): Convention that declares that all people have
a broad range of civil and political rights. One of three components
of the International BILL OF RIGHTS.Abbreviated ICCPR.
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Adopted
1966, entered into force 1976): Convention that declares that all
people have a broad range of economic, social, and cultural rights.
One of three components of the International BILL OF RIGHTS. Abbreviated
LABOR OFFICE: Established in 1919 as part of the Versailles
Peace Treaty to improve working conditions and promote social justice;
the ILO became a Specialized Agency of the UN in 1946. Abbreviated
A factory, often foreign-owned, that assembles goods for
export. From Spanish, the word is pronounced mah-kee-lah-DOH-rah.
It is usually shortened to maquila (mah-KEE-lah).
STATES: Countries that are member of the United Nations.
A document, like a DECLARATION, that carries no formal legal
obligations. It may, however, carry moral obligations or attain
the force of law as INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMARY LAW.
ORGANIZATIONS: Organizations formed by people outside of
government. NGO’s monitor the proceedings of human rights bodies
such as the COMMISSION ON human rights and are the “watchdogs” of
the human rights that fall within their mandate. Some are large
and international (e.g., the Red Cross, Amnesty International, the
Girl Scouts); others may be small and local (e.g., an organization
to advocate people with disabilities in a particular city; a coalition
to promote women’s rights in one refugee camp). NGO’s play a major
role in influencing UN policy, and many of them have official consultative
status at the UN. Abbreviated NGOs.
RIGHTS: The right of people to participate in the political
life of their communities and society such as by voting for their
RATIFY: Process by which the legislative body of a state
confirms a government’s action in signing a treaty; formal procedure
by which a state becomes bound to a treaty after acceptance.
In human rights the first step in ratification of a treaty;
to sign a DECLARATION, CONVENTION, or one of the COVENANTS constitutes
a promise to adhere to the principles in the document and to honor
RIGHTS: Rights that give people security as they live together
and learn together, as in families, schools, and other institutions.
AND ECONOMIC RIGHTS: Rights that give people social and
economic security, sometimes referred to as security-oriented or
second-generation rights. Examples are the right to food, shelter,
and health care. There is disagreement whether the government is
obligated to provide these benefits.
Often synonymous with “country”; a group of people permanently
occupying a fixed territory having common laws and government and
capable of conducting international affairs.
PARTY(IES): Those countries that have RATIFIED a COVENANT
or a CONVENTION and are thereby bound to conform to its provisions.
Formal agreement between states that defines and modifies
their mutual duties and obligations; used synonymously with CONVENTION.
When CONVENTIONS are adopted by the UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, they create
legally binding international obligations for the member states
who have signed the treaty. When a national government RATIFIES
a treaty, the articles of that treaty become part of its domestic
NATIONS CHARTER: Initial document of the UN setting forth
its goals, functions, and responsibilities; adopted in San Francisco
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: One of the principal organs
of the UN, consisting of all member states. The General Assembly
issues DECLARATIONS and adopts CONVENTIONS on human rights issues.
The actions of the General Assembly are governed by the CHARTER
OF THE UNITED NATIONS.
Refers to the application of human rights to all people
everywhere regardless of any distinction.
UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS (1948): Primary UN
document establishing human rights standards and norms. Although
the declaration was intended to be NON-BINDING, through time its
various provisions have become so respected by STATES that it can
now be said to be CUSTOMARY INTERNATIONAL LAW. Abbreviated UDHR.
Adapted from Julie Mertus et. al., Local Action/Global Change
and the Minnesota Partners in Human Rights Resource Notebook.