Ambiguity of the Notion of Human Rights

Subpage to the page " PRO RE PUBLICA" by Christian Heinze - 13.10.2017
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In a narrower sense, the notion of Human Right refers to such an entitelement only, the fulfilment of which is granted and guaranteed by one or several States (governments) in such a manner that the holder of the title can rely, as a rule, with certainty on the entitlement being fulfilled or executed or on receiving effective compensation in lieu of a failure of its fulfilment or execution, everywhere within the territory of application of such a right, and within an acceptable period of time. In this sense, the effective force of a Human Right can be envisaged as that of a basic individual constitutional right only in so far as the substance and contents of is described unambiguously by a legal norm (a law) with preference over all other laws or orders or other acts of a State (or government) authority.

In a wider sense of general common everyday usage the term Human Right is, however, more widely used to describe as "Human Rights" such claims as are contained in public declarations or lists of rules held valid by non governmental international organizations or by teachings of international law or by religions or ideologies or by proclamation by one or several States, lacking guarantee or security of being enforced as rights granted by States (governments) in the narrower sense described above. More often and more widely than legal norms, such proclamations and even basic constitutional richts are found to contain ambiguous descriptions of their contents. (The arguable interpretation of German basic contitutional rights - the so called "Grundrechte" fills volumes of Court jurisdiction and legal literature; an example for much greater ambiguity is afforded by the International Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations.)

From differences and/or ambiguities of such descriptions of the meangings of "Human Rights" in the wider sense of the notion, conflicts arise between claims upheld and between those who require their fulfilment, whenever the parties concerned derive different and uncompatible claims from the so called "Human Rights" in question, insisting on their prevalence over other rights. Particularly grave are conflicts between non-governmental claims for "Human Rights" and the laws of States, inter alia, for example, when both "Rights" and laws define the scope of freedom in a considerable different, but not fundamentally different way. This is because those who feel injured in their rights but unable to procure relief through a State (government) or even find themselves in opposition to State legislature come into conflict with the addressees of their claims and may easily become inclined to realize their claims by force of violence, thus colliding with the monopoly of violence held by the respective State (government) which is essential for the maintenance of peace within and between States.

Insisting on recourse to Human Rights without distinguishing clearly between rights granted by States (governments) and other claims or without describing precisely the contends of the rights invoked is bound to create conflicts of the nature and bearing mentioned. Such conflicts may well come close to revolution or civil war.

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