Understanding Human Rights

Understanding Human Rights

Educational Challenges for the Future

Paula Gerber

Paula Gerber argues that international law can learn from the medical profession, which has long recognised that ‘prevention is better than cure’. There is an urgent need for HRE to be recognised as one of the best ways of preventing future human rights abuses; it is, in essence, a prophylactic for human rights violations. The book explores the provenance of human rights education in international law before critiquing the UNs work in this area across numerous different organs, including treaty committees, the Human Rights Council, General Assembly and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The author identifies a number of deficiencies in the UNs HRE activities, and makes recommendations for how the UN can more effectively promote HRE and increase states compliance with their international HRE obligations. This book provides a unique and timely insight into the workings of the UN in this vital aspect of international human rights law.

Chapter 1: Prevention is better than cure

Paula Gerber

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights

Extract

The medical profession has long recognized that ‘prevention is better than cure’, as reflected in the development of vaccinations for a wide range of diseases, and the advocating of a healthy diet and exercise as one of the best ways of preventing diabetes and coronary problems. Much money is spent on medical research into prophylactic treatments designed to fend off disease, and as a result there have been significant breakthroughs, for example, ciprofloxacin for persons who may have been exposed to anthrax and chloroquine for those going into malaria-prone areas. Similarly, doctors and governments recognize that it is much cheaper and easier to prevent people smoking than to treat lung cancer, and as a result invest significant sums in programmes designed to help people quit smoking. It seems that the United Nations (UN) similarly recognized that prevention is better than cure when it advocated, over 60 years ago, that ‘Education shall be directed to … the strengthening of respect for human rights’. The founders of the UN realized that it is far better to prevent human rights abuses occurring than to try and ‘cure’ the problem, for example, by sending in peacekeepers after human rights atrocities have been committed.