The UDHR and the WCHR
By David Gallup
On this 66th anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), we have a milestone in the progression of human rights to celebrate – the first phase of the creation of a World Court of Human Rights is nearly complete.
The Design Team of the World Court of Human Rights (WCHR) Development Project held face-to-face and online meetings over the last year to draft an up-to-date Statute for this Court that will provide a venue for victims of human rights violations to seek redress. The WCHR Design Team is composed of lawyers, jurists, academics, practitioners and non-profit organizations. We are seeking additional input from the global public who is encouraged to view and comment on the Statute at www.worldcourtofhumanrights.net. Individuals and organizations interested in providing legal, technical, and financial support can contact the WCHR Design Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phase One of the Court’s development involved drafting the Statute and raising initial awareness among the legal and judicial communities. To complete this task, the WCHR Development Project Team Leader, sponsored by the World Service Authority, is currently attending the 15th Annual Conference of Chief Justices of the World in Lucknow, India.
This Team Leader will provide to each Justice in attendance a pocket-sized booklet of the World Court of Human Rights Statute as well as a professionally–prepared survey to gauge the Justices’ thought process about the Statute and the Court. We will request that the Chief Justices of the highest courts around the world draft a resolution in support of the establishment of this new Court. We will also recruit Justices to participate in the later phases of the Court’s development, such as promoting the importance of the Court to domestic populaces and potentially serving as Justices on the Court.
After the Conference, the Design Team will move into Phase Two, the fundraising and promotional stage. During this Phase, the Design Team, along with business and legal consultants, will conduct feasibility studies and sensitivity analyses, create focus groups of judges and justices, fine tune the vision of the Court, determine the services and support that the Court will provide, gather data and draft budgets, and produce a prospectus and other documentation that clarify the Court’s significance.
The establishment of the World Court of Human Rights is significant because it will be the first adjudicative body that will take the fulfillment of the universal rights affirmed in the UDHR as its underlying judicial principle.
Although there is an International Court of Justice, that body only handles disputes between nation-states. The International Criminal Court only handles criminal matters pertaining to war crimes, crimes against the peace, and crimes against humanity. The WCHR, however, will focus on providing individuals and groups, who are suffering from human rights abuses, a forum to have their grievances heard and remediated.
Because respect for universal human rights requires a system of justice that transcends the nations, the drafters of the UDHR contemplated the need for global legal procedures. The UDHR’s Preamble declares “that human rights should be protected by the rule of law” and that “every individual and organ of society shall strive … to promote respect for these rights and freedoms … by progressive measures , national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.”
Both the UDHR and the WCHR proclaim that adherence to the rule of law is the foundation of freedom, peace, and justice for humanity. The UDHR and WCHR share other paramount goals. First, human rights are the underlying ideology of both the Declaration and the Court. Next the UDHR and the Court declare a commitment to respect human rights unequivocally, ensuring that our rights will be maintained by the rule of law which includes adjudication of wrongs. Third, the UDHR, as customary international law, and the Court, as a global tribunal, both describe and consider the universality and applicability of rights to everyone, everywhere. The WCHR will create respect for law and rights at the global level.
The WCHR will be the Supreme Court of, by and for the people of the world. Now that’s something to celebrate!