Creating a Human Rights Culture

Website for Dr. Joseph Wronka

Professor of Social Work, Springfield College, Massachusetts USA
Representative to the United Nations in Geneva for the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW)
Fulbright Scholar in Social Justice, Poverty, and Human Rights

In democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not its taste, but its effect...  - Former U.S. Senator William J. Fulbright

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Summary of Major Human Rights Documents

This page consists of a link to: Summaries of Major Themes of Select Major Human Rights Documents Although unofficial summaries I think that these summaries should provide the basic gist of those major documents.  In that link I have chosen to summarize the following documents: (1)  The UN Charter; (2) human rights conventions that the USA (as this website originates in the USA) has ratified: The Convention on Civil and Political Rights; the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; and the Convention Against Torture, (3)  human rights conventions that the USA has signed, meaning it will consider that convention in its legislative bodies; the Convention on the Rights of Children; the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; and the Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and (4) two major important documents, the Genocide Convention and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (If quoting those summaries of documents please give proper referencing).

When reading the documents, please keep in mind that  conventions have the status of "treaty" in some countries, such as in the USA.  The US Constitution states in its Supremacy Clause, Article II that once a treaty is ratified it shall "become the law of the land... and the judges bound thereby."  Thus, they must be implemented in the country's domestic laws and policies.  When reading those themes, you may wish to think about whether your country is in accord with the documents' principles.  Should your country not be in accord with the human rights principles, the question then becomes what to do with the information.  Sometimes merely showing government leaders the discrepancies between international human rights documents and domestic laws and policies is enough to "move" government officials and non-governmental organizations to do something.  In Masschusetts we had introduced a Human Rights Bill to examine how MA laws and policies pertain to fundamental human rights.  There are also some other select social actions suggested in this website.