Today protection of the individual human rights is one of the most important issues on the agenda of the United Nations in modern times. Countries are the major violators of the human rights of their citizens and residents. Countries are also the entities that belong to the United Nations. The question then becomes: is it more important to protect the countries or the human rights of people being persecuted by those countries? This question leads to a number of other issues, such as people becoming stateless as a result of violent conflicts and people’s rights to move within a country and between different states.
The first meeting of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in December of 1946 has established the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR).
The UNCHR went through several stages during sixty years of its existence. In the first two decades the commission was actively promoting human rights. It hasn’t been involved in condemning the violations of human rights.
The commission stated that it had no authority to investigate human rights violations, which were happening in many countries, including the treatment of opposition in the Soviet Union and the institutional racism in the United States.
Starting from the mid-1960s the commission switched to an interventionist approach. The adoption of the International Bill of Rights in 1966 was one of the reasons why this happened. The other reason was apartheid in South Africa and African countries trying to get the United Nations to condemn the issue.
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights obtained the power to intervene and take action in cases of human rights violations.
The scope of the commission’s work kept expanding during the 1970s and 1980s. The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe linked human rights and international security, giving the commission yet another boost.
The respect for human rights has been making a lot of advances, especially in the 1980s with the collapse of totalitarian countries in Europe, the end of apartheid in South Africa and democratic changes in a number of states in Latin America.