New Delhi: Vice President Hamid Ansari today said natural resources conflict, gender equality, caste, communal, ethnic conflicts and environmental implications over developmental projects have become part of human rights agenda.
Addressing the International Human Rights Day function here, the Vice President said human rights abuses by non-state actors, such as violent insurgent groups, terrorists and extremists, both from the Left and Right, have also emerged as a major challenge.
Ansari said International Human Rights Day is remembered by all who care about humanity and wish to propel it away from brutality and towards humaneness in greater measure.
He highlighted three characteristics of these rights, saying that they are “natural” and accrue to us by the virtue of being humans; they are “universal” and pertain to all human beings irrespective of nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status; and they are inalienable and cannot be taken away except in specific situations and according to due process.
Ansari said over the past two decades a consensus has emerged that with respect to human rights, states have a threefold responsibility: to respect, to protect, and to fulfill their obligations, but added that the extent to which principles and international mechanisms based on human rights can and do go, as also the question of their universal applicability without exceptions, is the subject of vigorous debate and much controversy on international forums.
The Vice President said the framers of the Constitution were aware of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution cover most of the rights that had been articulated in the Universal Declaration, but there is at times a gap between what the official agencies project and what is perceived to be the situation on the ground.
One reason for this is wider public awareness of human rights norms; another is the extent and speed with which defaults or alleged violations are brought to public notice, he said.
Ansari said in a vibrant and robust democracy like ours, there is no shame in acknowledging the faults and the lacunae that exist in the policies and institutions pertaining to human rights.
He said the point of reference should be the Constitution of India and the principles, rights and duties enunciated therein.