Every person is entitled to their Human Rights regardless of who they are, where they are or where they come from. Human Rights are inherent and intrinsic to humanity. Human Rights are concerned with the personal dignity of a person and are often seen as the common human value of the world and are mainly defined in law in a country’s legislation, in particular in her constitution. However, irrespective of a country’s constitution, human rights are inalienable and are defined according to international law, treaties and conventions. This also applies to Zimbabwe.
In addition to the general commitments to human rights that each member state of the UN has, there are 6 treaties that countries can choose to ratify. There are 4 conventions: the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention Against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and 2 covenants: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Each of these six treaties has a committee (often called a treaty body) to look at the compliance of the states that have ratified the treaty in question. Only countries that have ratified each treaty have obligations under these treaty bodies. Zimbabwe has ratified the above treaties with the exception of the Convention Against Torture.
The different treaties are in principle legally binding on the country but there are no enforcement mechanisms on countries that do not comply with treaty body recommendations. Nevertheless the work of the Commission is as effective as that of the treaty bodies. This is mainly due to the Commission’s special mechanisms which are in their general approach careful not to appear overly critical, but they are nevertheless in the valuable position of being able to expose human rights violations in every country to an international audience.
This Human Rights Monthly provides an analysis of the above mentioned in the context of Zimbabwe.