International Human Rights Law

International Human Rights Law

Table of Contents 

Chapter I. Conceptual framework and general principles of human rights

From The Preface

In order to meet the growing interest in the practical response of the most rapidly developing branch of international law – human rights – we share with you the book titled ‘International Human Rights Law’. Human rights are characterized by an increasing degree of concreteness and recognition of norms in the various international systems and increasingly influence the application of domestic law.

International law becomes a fundamental part of national law through ratification by states. This happens at three levels of the application and enforcement of international law, not limited by the subject matter, at the international, regional and national levels. It is expressed through its sources: treaties, agreements between states, as well as in the norms of customary international human rights law. The authors aim to show how the legislators of international law were guided by the ideas of protecting, promoting and ensuring the fulfilment of human rights to their fullest extent.

Human rights are deeply rooted both in the science of Polish law and in the normative sphere. Already at the time of drafting the Polish Constitution of 3 May 1791, which was the first on the European continent and the second in the world after the US Constitution, human rights had firmly established meanings. One of the co-authors of the Polish Constitution, Hugo Kołłątaj, creatively developing the thoughts of Thomas Paine, presented his concept of rights with such a high degree of generality and the highest power of influence that it determined the content of the constitution and laws.

As examples of Polish science’s contributions to the international norm-making activity, we can point to the role of Rafał Lemkin in the context of the international legal treatment of the crime of genocide, or Ludwik Rajchman, the initiator of the World Health Organisation. Similarly undeniable are the roles of Professor Bohdan Winiarski – president of the International Court of Justice, Professor Zbigniew Resich – chairman of the UN Commission on Human Rights who oversaw the adoption of the International Covenants on Human Rights, and Professor Manfred Lachs – a judge at the International Court of Justice. The centuries-old experience of Polish jurists translates into a broad spectrum of human rights research in Poland.

The authors of this book work at the Department of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the Faculty of Law, Canon Law and Administration at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin. The research team at the Catholic University of Lublin naturally draws significantly on the achievements of the Lublin School of Philosophy. Experts in the field of scientific research on human rights and their protection methods continue the best traditions of outstanding professors of the Catholic University of Lublin, respecting and creatively developing the works of the pioneers of the Lublin School of Human Rights: Professor Franciszek Mazurek and Associate Professor Hanna Waśkiewicz. The systematics of human rights presented in the textbook also draws on Christian personalism and the scientific achievements of Karol Wojtyła.

With this, and great research traditions, in mind, the book provides a synthetic overview international human rights law, taking into account current case law and the views of legal scholars. In this way, the book fundamentally fills a gap in the publishing market concerning human rights, in particular of international human rights law.

The principle of respect for the inherent dignity of every human being is the basis for the entire concept of the book. It is not without reason that the idea of dignity is thoroughly imbued throughout the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, as well as its axiological and normative matrices: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The principle of respect for the dignity and human rights is considered a lex fundamentalis and a source of international human rights law also by the authors of this book.

We present this academic book believing that it will be useful for a wide group of recipients: students of law, administration, European studies, canon law, and especially for all those who are interested in the international protection of human rights. We hope that the book will be of interest not only to students, doctoral students and academic staff, but because of its practical aspects, also to representatives of the foreign service and legal practitioners: judges, advocates, attorneys-at-law, court enforcement officers and notaries. Throughout the book, the idea is expressed that human rights make it possible to properly pursue the purpose of the legal system and administer justice.

The express value of this book is its systematisation based on the principle of the inherent dignity of a human being. The book, which is strictly legal in nature, comprehensively considers the specific nature of the interaction of international human rights law norms with national systems. The structure of the book is innovative in that, on the one hand, it meets the traditional classifications on substantive human rights, clustered within particular generational groups, while, on the other hand, it places them, in a completely pioneering way, into groups considered by legal practitioners to be the most useful in the process of constructing, applying and interpreting laws. The book is drafted to reflect the issues in a synthetic way, and provide as much practical content as possible. In addition to systematising human rights issues, it is intended to convey that this is a system of practical protection of individual rights, not merely a theoretical or didactic structure.

The book consists of six main chapters divided into subsections developed by expert authors in each area of international human rights law. It is worth noting that it was mostly developed by practicing lawyers experienced in resolving legal problems related to the application of international law. Each chapter is preceded by a list of selected literature in the area under discussion, which will help readers to deepen the topic of interest. Undoubtedly, the rulings and decisions of human rights authorities set out in the text should be particularly useful for legal practitioners, making the book even more valuable.

Although its core subject matter concerns international human rights law, the book devotes considerable space to the Polish domestic system of protecting human rights. There are two reasons for this….