Comparative Analysis of Human and Civil Liberties under Nigeria Law and International Instruments


Comparative Analysis of Human and Civil Liberties under Nigeria Law and International Instruments

The concept of Human Rights and Fundamental Human rights is all about and the development of the subject matter over the ages in the field of International Law.

This article introduces us into the field of study in international law and as well as in the analysis of the various applications of the Laws within the domestic arena.

In this article, you should be able to identify the subject matter of Human Rights in International Law, identify the various international instruments that made provisions for the enjoyment of Human Rights no matter, the colour, ethnicity, or religion and differentiate between the laws that have been incorporated into the National Law and enforceable within domestic jurisdiction.


History of International Covenants and Conventions on Human Rights

Comparative Analysis of Human and Civil Liberties under Nigeria Law and International Instruments

The United Nation Charter Marks a significant step forward in the development of international law. In a sense, it is both a continuum and a new chapter in world history.

It does not pretend to usher in a golden age, but it opens up fresh vistas, and new horizons in international law.

One of the most notable initiatives taken by the organization in the period was the preparation and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 proclaiming a number of fundamental rights and freedoms of mainly a political nature.

Civil and political rights constitute a component of human rights in general.

Human rights are natural, divine, fundamental and inalienable right which attach to all human beings by virtue of their common humanity.

The prevailing “Universalist” doctrine of human rights, embraces the fact that all societies have a coherent notion of human rights.

However because each society has its own particularities, divergences do exist in the articulation of human rights, and it is the duty of an increasing globalized world to find or create minimum standards below which no nation should fall.

It is usual to trace the modern concept of human rights to the Greek period- Socrates, Plato and Aristotle being the significant protagonists of human rights in their age.

The contribution of the Catholic theoreticians notably St. Augustine in the 5th Century A.D. and Thomas Aguinas in the 13th century is also often mentioned.

The Renaissance period was another Mile Stone, featuring the writings of Thomas Hobbes Jeremy, Benthant, Cessare Beccaria, John Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, et al.

Then came the period of the major human rights documents – the Magna Cartha (1215) the English Bill of Rights (1689); the American Declaration of Independence (1788/89); and the French Declaration of the Rights of man and the citizen (1791).

Every Modern Political State has subsequently included some form of guarantee of human rights in its constitution.

Important as these human rights document were, they were only of domestic application and merely presaged a trend of international documentation of human rights ideas. 

The Slavery Convention (1926), the United Nation Charter (1948), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) 1948, the International Conventions of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights, both of 1966 are examples of the major international human rights instruments.

They were supplemented by various specialized treaties such as convention on Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) 1979; the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1986); the Torture Convention, (1984), the Genocide Convention (1948) and the Refugee Convention (1951).

Other sources of international human right law include the governing instruments of various specialized agencies of the United Nation like the International Labour Organization (ILO); United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) etc.

Human rights have become so pervasive in international Law that regional mechanisms have also been created for their enforcement.

These include the European Convention on Human Rights (1969), the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right (1981), and the Arab Charter on Human Rights (in draft).


Also read: The Right to Freedom of Association and Political Participation

The Concept of Civil and Political Rights

In the hierarchy of human rights, civil and political rights have taken primacy being usually referred to as the “first generation rights”. Social, Economic and cultural Rights constitute the second, the Right to development, the third.

The Right to a Sustainable Environment and the Right to Democracy and Good Governance are being touted as the fourth and fifth generation rights respectively.

The dichotomization of human rights in the post 1945 Era can be traced to the ideological warfare between the East and the West.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 (UDHR) contains provisions for both civil and political rights and economic and social rights, but the western European countries in the United Nation lobbied for a separation:

• Purely “legal” rights which are enforceable.

• “Programme” or manifesto rights (i.e. economic and social rights), which were considered unenforceable, depending on the relative capability of government to support its realization.


Also read: Fundamental Human Rights: Section 37, 38, 42 and 43 of the 1999 Constitution

African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Many African Countries, presumably on grounds of financial incapacity, relegate economic and social rights to the level of “fundamental objective of State” separate from civil and political rights, which are regarded as core rights. The future of human rights jurisprudence is to increasingly forge a unity of these rights, one inseparable from the other.

Happily, this trend is championed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right, which has departed from the norm by uniting civil and political rights, with the social economic and cultural rights in its provision.


Also read: Right to Life: Nigeria Abortion Law

Conclusion on Comparative Analysis of Human and Civil Liberties under Nigeria Law and International Instruments

In this article, we have attempted to examine the provisions in many international instruments bordering on human rights. The relationship between socio-economic rights and civil and political rights was also examined and explained.

As can be seen from the above outline, no satisfactory explanation of the different categories of rights in different countries without looking at the legal framework on individual countries.

All the Rights whether fundamental or net have largely derived their existence from the legal and constitutional framework of the system.

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