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National Human Rights Commission

The National Human Rights Commission was established on 12th October, 1993 under the legislative mandate of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

Over the past eleven years the Commission has endeavoured to give a positive meaning and a content to the objectives set out in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. It has moved vigorously and effectively to use the opportunities provided to it by the Act to promote and protect human rights in the country. While undertaking the tasks set out in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the Commission has noticed several lacunae in the Act over the years. This has been mentioned in earlier reports and it is emphasized, once again, that there is a need to review and amend the Act for the proper and effective functioning of the Commission.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly on 10th December, 1948, was followed by two Covenants – International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1966. India signed both these International Conventions in 1979.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) is taking a robust attitude towards the practical implementation of these rights under the ICESCR. This was recognized by the United Nations in 1986 when it acknowledged the right to development as a human right. The right to development as formulated in the 1986 U.N. Declaration is a synthesis of the two sets of rights.

In democratic societies fundamental human rights and freedoms are put under the guarantee of law and therefore, their protection becomes an obligation of those who are entrusted with the task of their protection. These rights are broadly classified into civil and political rights on the one hand and economic, social and cultural rights on the other. While the former are more in the nature of injunction against the authority of the State from encroaching upon the inalienable freedoms of an individual, the latter are demands on the State to provide positive conditions to capacitate the individual to exercise the former. The object of both sets of rights is, to make an individual an effective participant in the affairs of the society. Unless both sets of rights are available, neither full development of the human personality can be achieved nor true democracy can be said to exist.

The Commission, consistent with its mandate, took up issues involving human rights that are of significance, either suo motu, or when brought to its notice by the civil society, the media, concerned citizens, or expert advisers. Its primary focus is to strengthen the extension of human rights to all sections of society, in particular, the vulnerable groups.

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National Human Rights Commission

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