Solidarity rights: universality and diversities

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Zoltan Vig SOLIDARITY RIGHTS: UNIVERSALITY AND DIVERSITIES The oposition between the individual and the community is one of the central themes in the non-Western cultural criticue of international human rights.1 Throughout the centuries concepts of human rights and fundamental freedoms provided that the beneficiaries of those rights and freedoms are individual human beings in whom these rights inhere inalienably by virtue of their humanity, and the dignity and integrity to which that characteristic entitles them.2 For long, one of the key features of human rights thinking was the centrality of the dignity and well being of individuals. On the other hand, man is a „social animal“, and individual human rights have collective interests as legitimate restriction grounds.

Moreover, such interests may impose duties on individuals. Some scholars argue that most human rights have a collective aspect.3 Some human rights are intended on the protection of an individual’s capacity for relating with others (the freedom of expression, the freedom of assembly, etc.). In relation with the state’s obligation to implement human rights, most of the rights are collective as they can be implemented by means of general measures only. Some of the human rights are ascribed to special groups of human beings – such as children, women, prisoners, etc. - but still they belong to individual members of a group, rather than to the group itself as a hypothetical entity. However, the solidarity rights are difficult to reconcile with the classical theory, as they are

held not by individuals, but by collective subjects (“peoples”). They are frequently referred to as “third generation” rights. Karel Vasak, former director of the Division of Human Rights and Peace of UNESCO, began to use these terms at the end of 1970s. According to his explanation, after the first generation of negative civil and political rights, and the second generation of positive economic, social and cultural rights a new third generation of rights receives international recognition. These rights are the so-called rights of solidarity as they can be brought through only by joint activity of all social actors – individuals, state, public and private bodies, and the international community. Using the terminology of the French Revolution of 1789, the first

generation of rights implies freedom, the second generation equality, and the third generation (the solidarity rights) – fraternity.4 This model can be considered a simplified expression of a very complicated historical advance. It does not indicate a linear progression in which every generation of rights appears changing the old one, and disappears with the emergence of the next generation of rights. It also does not suggest that one generation of rights is more important than another is. The three generations are implied to be “cumulative, overlapping… interdependent and interpenetrating.”5 This triad of democracy, development, and human rights reflects the fundamental conditionality of social and individual life and progress.6 The “third generation” rights proposed

by Vasek include the right to development, the right to peace, the right to a healthy and balanced environment, the property right of the common heritage of mankind, and the right to humanitarian assistance.7 Nowadays the range and classification of collective rights is questionable. Some commentators distinguish particular rights as such - for example, the rights to self-determination, liberation and equality, the right to international peace and security, the right to use of wealth and resources, the right to development, the right to environment and the minority rights.8 Others use classifications of collective rights, distinguishing for example: - “nationalist” collective rights, which imply the group of rights, which in some respect deal with the existence and cultural