Fundamental Human Right : Dignity of Human Person

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Before we get into this post, we should ask ourselves what is what are fundamental human right? Fundamental human right are inalienable right of every citizen in a country, this is that they are rights every individual at birth is endowed with, part of which are right to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness and also dignity of human person inter alia (among other things).

With the brief above, one could submit that being born into a particular country is being born into some certain right automatically, this is the part the government responsibility sets in, they are seen to be the one who safeguard this right for the citizens of a particular country, although the constitution defines these rights and also show limitations to governmental power, most of these right are recognized and entrenched in the constitution of most countries. Therefore, the government who in other word could be referred as the state is scheduled with the responsibility of ensuring that its citizens enjoy this right.

This right is the most intrinsic right of man, and as we all know can be seen as the determinant of personhood. The universal concept of equality no doubt compels the respect for certain minimum standards or factors in the attainment of this dignity. The atrocities of world war 2 brought to view the drastic need of measures in respect to this, irrespective of nationality, colour or status. The concept of human dignity is one that has a changing content and can only be determined from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society. In keeping with the international standards in area of human dignity and rights, National and regional document also make provisions for the observance of this right. A cursory look at these international instruments is necessary here for a better understanding of the content of this right.

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In recognition of its importance the charter of the United Nations in its preamble reaffirms, among other things the Universal faith “In the dignity and worth of the human persons”. Similarly, the charter of the African Union also stipulates that “freedom, equality, justice and dignity are essential objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the African peoples.” In reaffirmation of this belief, article 1 of the Universal declaration of human rights provides

 “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of Brotherhood”

This seems simply the fact that there is a universal concept of dignity, or a minimum standard of human dignity. Articles 4,5 and 6 thereafter provide for various aspects of this right as follows

4. “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude’s slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

5. “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” 

6. “Everyone has the right to recognize everywhere as a person before the law.”

The international covenant on civil and political right in the same vein prohibits “torture” or “cruel”, in human or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.” In other words, such experiment without the requisite consent would amount to inhumane or degrading treatment. Furthermore, in article 8, the convention prohibits slave trade or servitude and forced or compulsory labour,  provided such labour is not that required as a result of imprisonment or lawful detention,  military or national service, or service exerted in cases of emergency or calamity and lastly the concept of human dignity transcends these specified acts.


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