Founder GEIG, lecturer Department of Jurisprudence, University of Salerno, Italy
Series: Human Rights: Contemporary Issues and Perspectives
Human rights were established in law many decades ago and were primarily intended to ensure that citizens could be protected from the absolute authority of the State. However, things are completely different today: first, the power of the state has declined substantially for many reasons, primarily the fact that a great number of functions, formerly performed by the state, have been taken over by private enterprises, who work for their own interest, nor for the public good.
Moreover, these enterprises are no controlled either by domestic or by international legal instruments or organizations. The United Nations are nominally responsible for all the people of the world, according to their own Charter, but in this case as well, their authority is undermined by other entries keen to establish their power and to advance their economic interests, while the protection of human rights, of human life and dignity, are not considered.
Finally, it is not only the legal infrastructure that has changed substantively, but the classic human rights of long ago are far different from the rights that need to be protected today. Climate change and the ongoing destruction of nature, the presence of land grabs, are now viewed as crimes against humanity, as they represent conditions that did not exist in earlier times. Similarly, the racist disregard for Indigenous Peoples and their rights are increasingly prevalent today.
The conditions that exist today, where the threats to human health and life go far beyond what existed at the time human rights were established, such as the pandemic that reigns globally since 2019, has rendered our attempts to recover the respect and protection of human rights, which therefore require a radical reformulation.