Individual countries have taken the principles enshrined within the United Nations Declaration and the European Convention and adapted them to their own requirements.
In this section we will examine how selected countries have taken this forward.
The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs views on the Romanian observance of Human Rights is as follows:
"To Romania, just as to the European Union, observance of human rights is a foreign policy priority. Under the Constitution, Romania is a democratic and social state ruled by law. In the spirit of the Romanian people’s democratic traditions and of the December 1989 Revolution, Romania cherishes and guarantees, as supreme values, human dignity, civil rights and freedoms, the free development of human personality, justice andpolitical pluralism. Romania has ratified most of the universal and European human rights treaties.
Under article 20 of the Constitution of Romania:
Constitutional provisions on civil rights and freedoms shall be interpreted and applied in agreement with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with the covenants and the other treaties Romania is a party to. In case there are differences between the covenants and treaties on fundamental human rights to which Romania is a party and the domestic laws, international regulations shall prevail, except where the Constitution or domestic laws contain more favourable provisions.
Starting from these principles,Romania has been acting internationally for the establishment of strong institutions to defend human rights. Alongside the EU partner states, in 2006 Romania contributed to the setting up of the UN Human Rights Council.
Romania was elected a member of the Council for a two-year term over 2006-2008.
Between June 2007 and June 2008, this country was the first EU member state to hold the presidency of the Human Rights Council since its creation. Moreover,Romania is running for another term in 2011-2014."
Romania was elected and the Romanian Permanent Mission to the UN commented:
"On May 20th 2011, Romania has become a member of the Human Rights Council (HRC), for a three year mandate, following the elections that took place in the plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly, in New York. The result of this vote underlines the appreciation our country enjoys on the international stage, as an active and responsible dialogue partner in the field of human rights protection and promotion. At the same time, the May 20th success represents a gesture of acknowledgement of the internal progress made in the last twenty years in the fields of human rights, consolidation of democracy and rule of law.
On this occasion, the Minister of Foreign Affaires, Mr. Teodor Baconschi, declared:
“the mandate entrusted to Romania involves, beyond recognition of prestige, aspecial responsibility towards the improvement of UN’s activity in the field of human rights”.
Recent developments in the Middle East and North Africa have proven once more that respect for human rights, and, more generally, of the universal principle of human dignity, constitutes the foundation of a harmonious development of the society.
In the present international context, it is the duty of the international community to participate in a more decisive manner to the strengthening of institutions dealing with human rights protection, at both internal and international level.
In Romania’s view, the Human Rights Council, as a specialized UN body, fulfills an essential role in ensuring the upholding of human rights and fundamental freedoms at global level. As a member of the Human Rights Council, Romania was prepared to contribute to the effective fulfillment of the mandate of this important UN forum.
From 2016 Romania is not a member of the Human Rights Council, its position in relation to a number of international treaties is outlined on the Council's website.
In the United Kingdom it was decided that it was inadequate protection for the citizen to rely upon the European Convention alone and therefore in 1998 the Human Rights Act was enacted in UK domestic law. The Act is a law, which came into full force in October 2000. It gives further effect in the UK to the fundamental rights and freedoms in the European Convention on Human Rights.
The law does three simple things:
- It makes it unlawful for a public authority, like a government department, local authority or the police,to breach the Convention rights, unless an Act of Parliament meant it couldn’t have acted differently.
- It means that human rights cases can be dealt with in a UK court or tribunal. Until the Act, anyone who felt that their rights under the Convention had been breached had to go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
- It says that all UK legislation must be given a meaning that fits with the Convention rights, if that’s possible. If a court says that’s not possible it will be up to Parliament to decide what to do.
These rights not only impact matters of life and death, they also affect the rights that people in the UK have in their everyday lives. Most rights have limits to ensure that they do not unfairly damageotherpeople'srights. However, certain rights – such as the right not to be tortured – can never be limited by a court or anybody else.You have the responsibility to respect other people's rights, and they must respect yours.
Your human rights are:
- the right to life
- freedom from torture and degrading treatment
- freedom from slavery and forced labour
- the right to liberty
- the right to a fair trial
- the right not to be punished for something that wasn't a crime when you did it
- the right to respect for private and family life
- freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom to express your beliefs
- freedom of expression
- freedom of assembly and association
- the right to marry and to start a family
- the right not to be discriminated against in respect of these rights and freedoms
- the right to peaceful enjoyment of your property
- the right to an education
- the right to participate in free elections
- the right not to be subjected to the death penalty
If any of these rights and freedoms are breached, you have a right to an effective solution in law in the UK, even if the breach was by someone in authority.
Where you believe your rights have not been respected and you cannot resolve the problem outside court, you are entitled to bring a case before the appropriate court or tribunal in the UK. The court or tribunal will then consider your case. People on low incomes are given help from the State to mount a challenge.
Guides to how Human Rights law operates in theory and in practice in the UK can be foundon the following websites: