Universal Declaration of Human Right Law Insider

By Arryan Mohanty

Published On: April 30, 2022 at 08:56 IST

Human rights are the fundamental rights that any human being has as a result of his or her birth into the human race. It is present in every human individual, regardless of nationality, religion, language, sex, color, or any other factor.

The atrocities of World War II led to the unanimous adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948, with no reservations. Even though the notion of human rights has existed from the beginning of time, it was the first time that the international community agreed on its value.

Despite the fact that the UDHR lacks legal authority, legal scholars have correctly asserted that its ideas have accrued the force of customary international law over time.

Its concepts have been incorporated into a number of other enforceable international legal documents, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The explanation for this could be the UDHR’s broad scope of operation, which attempts to include anything and everything under its purview as long as it is related to human rights.

Human rights protection is critical for the growth of the country’s people, which in turn contributes to the development of the country as a whole.

Despite the fact that the UDHR is a statement of principles aimed at making the world a better place in the future, given its significance, it is worth considering whether it sketches a broad view of history.

The preamble is a natural place to look for such a viewpoint, as it describes the motivations for the UDHR’s creation and thus forms part of the framework in which it should be interpreted.

One of the Declaration’s beneficial qualities is that it frames its references to the past in as timeless a manner as possible.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed by India. The Constituent Assembly of India enacted the Indian constitution on December 26, 1949, and it went into effect on January 26, 1950.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted in 1948, had a significant impact on our Indian constitution. Part III, which deals with Fundamental Rights, and Part IV, which deals with Directive Principles of State Policy, are quite similar to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As a result, the Indian Constitution’s Part III guarantees a number of essential rights that are similar to the Declaration’s provision. Every citizen of India is guaranteed basic human rights under the Indian Constitution.

The Constitution’s framers made every effort to include all of the required provisions. The horizon of human rights has, however, broadened as a result of ongoing changes.

Parliamentarians are increasingly playing a significant role in recognizing people’s rights and passing statutes, changing clauses, and so on as needed.

Development of Human Rights in India

Human rights in India have been around for a long time. The fundamentals of Buddhism and Jainism can simply be recognized.

Human rights clauses were also found in Hindu religious writings and manuscripts such as the Gita, Vedas, Arthashastra, and Dharmasastra. Muslim monarchs such as Akbar and Jahangir were also admired for their concern for human rights and justice.

People in India were subjected to severe violations of various rights during the early British rule, which contributed to the development of current Human Rights law in the country.

The Indian Constitution almost entirely covered the rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, either in Fundamental Rights or in Directive Principles of State Policy.

Human rights jurisprudence as we know it now can be traced back to India during the British colonial period. When the British controlled India, people’s resistance to foreign authority took the form of demands for fundamental freedoms and civil and political rights.

Indians were humiliated and discriminated against by the British. The fight for civil liberties and fundamental freedoms was aided by the freedom movement and the British rulers’ severe repressive tactics.

Human rights and democracy were questioned during British administration, and socialism was condemned. The British colonial period is the Indian analogue of the Dark Ages in terms of cultural history.

Lord Macaulay scorned ancient Indian legal and political systems as dotage of Brahmanical superstition, and condemned historic legal legacy and its underlying core as a vast machine of horrible follies.

Lord Wellesley regarded the Indians as crude, ignorant, nasty, and stupid, while Lord Cornwallis declared that every Hindustani was corrupt. Indians were excluded from high office by the English East India Company, and their political, social, and economic rights were taken away from them.

The Indians were left with the idea that their precious inherent human rights and critical interests had been neglected, denied, and stomped on for the sake of England and its rulers.

Under his guidance, Mahatma Gandhi organized the people of India and began his nonviolent battle for self-government and fundamental rights. Lokmanya Tilak argued that Indians’ birth right to independence was a war they would have to fight for.

The Charter Act of 1813 was enacted in response to strong opposition from the Indian people in order to protect the interests and happiness of India’s native population. In the same way, the Government of India Act of 1833 was passed to give Indians some political rights.

On November 1, 1858, Queen Victoria issued a proclamation that included “Certain principles of state policy” that were analogous to natural fundamental rights.

The specific demand for fundamental rights followed logically from the nationalist movement, which began in 1885 with the formation of the Indian National Congress.

The Indian National Congress prepared the Constitution of India Bill 1895, also known as the Home Rule Document, which paved the way for a constitution that guaranteed all citizens basic human rights such as freedom of expression, inviolability of one’s own home, right to property, and equality before the law.

In response to demands for fundamental rights, the Government of India Act of 1915 ensured equal opportunity in public services. Between 1917 and 1919, the National Congress passed a series of resolutions that reiterated the desire for civil rights and equality of status with the English.

Right to Equality in UDHR

Despite extraordinary international achievement in improving the legal protection of individuals and groups of individuals against discrimination, reports from around the world demonstrate that discriminatory activities and practices are far from a thing of the past.

Following the Charter of the United Nations’ prohibition of discrimination based on race, sex, language, and religion, the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, along with the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, was the next important step in the legal consolidation of the principle of equality before the law and the resulting prohibition of discrimination. According to article 2[4]:

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,” says Article 1 of the Universal Declaration. “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration without discrimination of any type, including race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other position,”

Furthermore, no distinction shall be established based on the political, jurisdictional, or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether independent, trust, non-self-governing, or subject to any other form of sovereignty limitation.

In terms of the right to equality, article 7[5] declares that

“All are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law without any discrimination.”

Everyone has the right to equal protection from any prejudice that violates this Declaration, as well as from incitement to discrimination. Article 2 of the Universal Declaration outlaws “Differences of any type,” which could be interpreted as indicating that no differences can be accepted legally.

However, the international monitoring agencies have not embraced such a narrow approach. Article 2 of the UDHR recognizes the right to equality and non-discrimination, and it is a cross-cutting topic of concern in a number of UN human rights agreements, including Articles 2 and 26 of the ICCPR, and Article 2(2) of the ICESCR.

Furthermore, CERD on the basis of race and CEDAW on the basis of gender are two of the key UN human rights accords that clearly ban discrimination. Non-discrimination and equal treatment are also enshrined in regional treaties, such as the American Declaration’s Article 2.

Despite the fact that all human rights documents embody the principle of non-discrimination, only a few instruments explicitly define it: Article 1(1) CERD, Article 1 CEDAW, Article 2 CRPD, Article 1(1) ILO 111, and Article 1(1) Convention against Discrimination in Education.

Prohibition against slavery & torture in UDHR

Slavery has existed since the beginning of time. The 1815 Declaration Relative to the Universal Abolition of the Slave Trade was, for example, the first international treaty to denounce the slave trade. Furthermore, between 1815 and 1957, more than 300 international accords were drafted in effort to abolish slavery.

For the first time, at the Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery’s 23rd session in 1998, it was resolved to conduct a full assessment of current slavery-related legislation and treaties.

After World war II, the United Nations worked to abolish slavery, and it is now a well-established concept of international law that “The prohibition against slavery and slavery-related acts has acquired the level of customary international law and has attained ‘Jus cogens’ status.”

“No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be abolished in all forms,” declares the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The International Bill of Human Rights had also given major support to the slavery treaty and the Supplementary Convention.

Slavery and servitude are likewise prohibited in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The same is true of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ relevant paragraph. Under Article 4(2), this right has been made a non-derogable right.

National governments have a major responsibility to defend inhabitants’ human rights, which includes, of course, the prohibition of slavery and slavery-like acts.

The general norm of international law states that all local remedies must be exhausted before resorting to international settlement procedures, emphasising the primary responsibility of national authorities to preserve human rights.

Although the focus of this section is on international procedures, there are essential links between national and international monitoring approaches that must not be disregarded. A number of procedures for ensuring implementation and monitoring have emerged in international human rights law.

Since the adoption of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1966, all major human rights treaties have established an expert body, such as the Human Rights Committee under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to oversee the implementation of relevant multilateral conventions by receiving and reviewing periodic reports from the governments that have ratified them.

Following a review of each State Party’s report, most treaty organizations give conclusions and recommendations. Treaty bodies may also make general remarks or recommendations that authoritatively interpret treaty terms and describe their experience evaluating States Parties’ reports.

In addition, four treaty bodies – the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, and the Committee against Torture – may receive communications from individuals alleging treaty violations and issue adjudicative decisions interpreting and applying treaty provisions.

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights has devised numerous new tools for human rights monitoring under the authority of the United Nations Charter, rather than on the basis of a specific human rights treaty.

Authorizing a special rapporteur, a special representative, or a working group to investigate and issue a report on the situation is one of the most public actions taken by the Commission in response to a violating Government.

In addition, the Commission has formed thematic special rapporteurs and working groups to address certain types of violations, such as the sale of children.

“No one shall be subjected to torture, or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment,” says Article 5 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In essence, Article 5 includes the right to be free from torture, and the same has been tried to be attained by the Declaration of the Fifth United Nations Congress, which was held in 1975.

No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, brutal, or degrading treatment or punishment, according to Article 7 of the ICCPR.

No one shall be subjected to medical or scientific experimentation without his or her free consent. Article 7 of the ICCPR reproduces Article 5 of the UDHR in its first sentence. Furthermore, no exceptions to article 7 can be made under any circumstances, including during a national emergency.

This part demonstrates the international community’s desire to protect and maintain human beings’ physical and moral integrity.

The objective of this article is to defend the individual’s integrity and dignity. The Human Rights Committee is responsible for the implementation of these rights under Article 40(4) of the ICCPR.

The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment was the result of the process of legal codification against torture (CAT). The goal of this Convention is to prevent acts of torture and other activities that are forbidden by it.

A “Committee against Torture,” made up of ten specialists elected by the States Parties to the Convention and functioning in their personal capacity, oversees the Convention’s implementation.

State parties to the Convention are obligated to report to the Committee on a regular basis on the steps they have taken to put the Convention’s provisions into effect. The Committee reviews such reports, makes general remarks, and reports its activities to the other state parties and the General Assembly.

Human Rights & Indian Constitution

The Fundamental Rights are included in Part III of the Indian Constitution, popularly known as the Magna Carta of the Constitution. These are the rights that can be directly enforced against the government if they are violated. Article 13(2) bans the state from enacting legislation that violates fundamental rights.

It always states that if a component of a legislation is found to be in violation of the Fundamental Rights, that part of the law would be deemed void. If the void component of the act cannot be isolated from the rest of the act, the entire act may be pronounced void.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights may not be a legally enforceable instrument, but it illustrates how India understood the nature of human rights at the time the Constitution was enacted,” the Supreme Court said in Keshvananda Bharti v. State of Kerela.

In the case of Chairman, Railway Board & Ors. v. Chandrima Das & Ors, it was stated that the UDHR had been recognized by the United Nations General Assembly as a Model Code of Conduct. If necessary, the principles may have to be read in domestic jurisprudence.

Many of the civil and political rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) are also enshrined in Part III of India’s Constitution. The ICCPR has been signed and approved by India.

Justice Krishna Iyer observed in Jolly George Varghese & Anr. v. Bank of Cochin that just because a provision is in the ICCPR but not in the Indian Constitution does not make the covenant an enforceable element of India’s “Corpus Juris.”

Unremunerated Fundamental Rights

At the time of the Constitution’s enactment, many of the covenant’s rights were not recognised as fundamental rights. The extent of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution has been enlarged by court interpretations.

The Supreme Court of India had stated in A.D.M. Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla that the law of land does not recognize any natural or common law rights other than those expressly stated in the Indian Constitution.

“The expression ‘personal liberty’ in article 21 is of the broadest amplitude and it covers a variety of rights, which go to constitute the personal liberty of man, and some of them have been raised to the status of distinct fundamental rights and given additional protection under Article 19.”

Later, in the case of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, J. Bhagwati observed: “The expression ‘personal liberty’ in article 21 is of the broadest amplitude and it covers a variety of No person’s right to go abroad can be taken away unless the State passes a legislation specifying the method for doing so, and the deprivation is carried out strictly in line with that procedure.”

The Supreme Court developed the “theory of emanation” in response to the current case in order to make fundamental rights more active and relevant.

UDHR & India

The constitution’s drafters drew on several elements found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights while creating the document. Several provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have so been enshrined in our constitution.

Furthermore, the supreme court has broadened the scope of the UDHR provisions in its interpretation and function of upholding the spirit of the constitution.

The rationale for borrowing provisions from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights lies not only in the philosophical status of these provisions, but also in the recognition that India’s social, political, and economic exploitation could only be addressed through various constitutional guarantees of human rights.

They made certain fundamental rights, including as the right to life, non-derogable rights, which could only be revoked via due process of law.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a document that states that everyone has the right to live. Even while it was a commendable endeavor to make the world a better place for cohabitation, the declaration’s non-binding nature impeded its goal.

Again, the broad scope specified for each of the declaration’s core rights ensured that future international and domestic legislation might include nearly anything and everything under the sun within its sphere of operation.

It should be highlighted that, notwithstanding the substantial legislation envisioned with the UDHR at its helm, the change in the ground zero situation is far from what the theoretical scenario looks like. Human rights are fundamental rights that are necessary for a person’s growth as a human being.

Human rights breaches are frequently reported to be committed by state actors, as well as non-state actors who are frequently supported by the state.

As a result, as long as we continue to promote our own personal interests at the expense of others’, the world will never be a secure place to live, and we will always have to battle for our rights to be protected.

The Constitution of India protects fundamental rights such as Fundamental Rights and DPSPs. Fundamental rights have received more attention, and they are directly enforceable in a court of law.

A thorough examination of Parts III and IV of the Indian Constitution reveals that these two sections encompass nearly all of the rights outlined in the UDHR (Universal Declaration on Human Rights).

The judiciary has also taken significant moves, such as modifying the norms of ‘locus standi,’ so that anyone other than those who are affected can now approach the court.

The Supreme Court has interpreted the Fundamental Rights available to citizens, and now rights such as the right to privacy, the right to a clean environment, the right to free legal assistance, and the right to a fair trial, among others, are included.

Author: Arryan Mohanty








Related Post