Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December. The date was chosen to honor the United Nations General Assembly's adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights.
The formal establishment of Human Rights Day occurred at the 317th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on 4 December 1950, when the General Assembly declared resolution 423(V), inviting all member states and any other interested organizations to celebrate the day.
Everyone knows that fundamental human rights are universal. That is the tacit assumption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration knows no religious, national, or political boundaries. And it is not hierarchical, like caste systems or monarchies. Everyone stands on the same plane when human rights are at issue. Even if all of its lofty provisions safeguarding fundamental human freedoms and liberties remain dishonored in many parts of the globe, it stands as a moral reproach to wrongdoing nations that may facilitate reforms.
Urgency of adding teeth to human rights is felt everywhere. On that count, the news is less auspicious. The United Nations should officially declare that under international law and human rights covenants, every government official is vulnerable to criminal prosecution.
Every alleged victim of a human rights violation or his or her relatives should be entitled to sue the alleged official culprits in the World Court. The results must convince them. Its verdict would be binding on all countries. Any nation that refused either to prosecute or to assist in the prosecution of the human rights violators would be expelled from the United Nations General Assembly; and its leaders could be held in contempt of court by the World Court.
The United Nations has been painfully ineffective, measured by the yardsticks of international peace, human rights, and self-determination. An initial example was and remains Kashmir. India's has escaped United Nations sanctions or even moral reproach for more than 62 years.
On 23 February 1991, a serious incident occurred in the mountain village of Kunan Poshpura. More that 800 soldiers of the 4th Rajput Regiment surrounded the village. They rounded up the men outside and then broke into houses in search of arms. Many women were attacked. 23 to 60 women were reportedly raped that night. Hawal Massacre took place on 21 May 1990 near Islamia College. Then it was the Shopian rape and murder case. Then the Machil Fake Encounter. There are many instances where justice is yet to be come.
Silence over the gross human rights violations in Kashmir is worrisome. The silence has emboldened the oppressive forces.
If international laws were applied to Kashmir, an international war crimes tribunal would have been established years ago. The Kashmir conflict is not about autonomy, nor about the transfer of power in Jammu and Kashmir. It is about honoring the political and human rights of the Kashmiri people in accordance with the international law, justice and morality.
Dr. Manmohan Singh's assertion that borders cannot be redrawn in Kashmir is an insult to the intelligence of the people of Kashmir. They know that the line of control is in fact the line of conflict. They have always revolted against the status quo and the status quo cannot be an option to resolve the Kashmir dispute. It should be emphasized that the us status quo in Kashmir is both legally and morally unacceptable and militarily and economically frightening.
(Aejaz Bhat is a student of Law and the University of Kashmir)