Today, while the subject of human rights seems topical and forms part of any major political speech, yet it is a little or even a misunderstood topic at that. This is because apart from being broad in nature and scope, people often tend to focus on parrticular rights and may persuade themselves that these particulars are either the core of the human rights discourse itself or the complete set of human rights. This sometimes leads to heated arguments on what should, and should not be, part of the human rights corpus.
This site is my personal blog whose main objective is to educate and inform on the subject of human rights, particularly its legal aspect. The moment we talk of rights, as I understand it, we are encroaching into a legal domain. Only the law uses the language of rights, and only the law can define what a right is in the first place. Only the law can be used by disputants about what particular rights constitute. So until the law makes a binding pronouncement through the judiciary, it mayt be difficult to state with certainty what a particular right entails.
However, I am not blind to the fact that the law itself can be used to suppress human rights in certain jurisdicttions. Once it does, it is the job of an activist to challenge the law itself so that it accommodates human rights in an acceptable manner. A law that places human rights at the centre and used as a tool to redress wrongs in a society, that law qualifies a community to say this is the rule of law. This is because if a law accommodates the strong and the weak, treats them with equality and, whenever possible, counters bias by having recourse to appropriate precedents and circumstances, then citizens and foreigners alike in that jurisdiction are protected by the legal system.
The main objective of this site is to educate. It is not to provide legal advice of any nature. It is there only to point the way one has to follow to have a firm grasp of human rights discourse in Zimbabwe. While my personal biases may take over, I trust that whenever they do so, I will be honest to state that this is an opinion and not a fact.
This site mainly targets activists on human rights issues. It is hoped that through it, they may be better informed when taking certain positions on particular issues.
It is also addressed to the students in human rights. And this includes many people, whether they be researchers, teachers or students in other related disciplines of academia.
Some terms may need to be defined, as understanding of them may be critical in following along the many threads on this blog. These include:
- An entitlement to something, often created by operation of law. Thus, if you are entitled to something, you have a right over that thing. If you buy a car, you are entitled to it by virtue of you having bought it and title over that car having passed to you.
- According to The American Heritage Dictionary (4th Edition), human means "A member of the genus Homo and especially of the species H. sapiens."As far as one can put it in simpler terms, a human being possesses qualities of a living thing that falls into the class of animals. However, unlike other animals, a human has characteristics unique to it. In reference to human being, when he or she is alive, we refer to him or her as a person. And hopefully, everyone visiting this site!)
- Human Rights
- The rights to which everyone is entitled to, simply because they are human. These constitute the main subject of this blog's discussion.
- Human Rights Law
- The Law governing the exercise of human rights. It defines not only these rights, but the nature and extent of these rights.
- United Nations
- An international organisation founded in 1945 to maintain world peace and security. Its membership is comprised of sovereign states. The role of the United Nations is critical when it comes to human rights as it is the one responsible for setting standards and monnitoring compliance with them. It is the one that set up the international bill of rights that forms the basis of international human rights law.
- International Bill of Rights
- The term used to refer to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- which spells basic human rights for everyone, along with the two Covenants that are legally binding on the United Nations member states. These Covenants are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Along with the Constitution of Zimbabwe, all the documents that form the international bill of rights are displayed on the right side of this site's sidebar. They are linked to the site of the UN High Coommissioner on Human Rights.