CRITICAL APPRAISAL OF THE RIGHTS OF VULNERABLE GROUP UNDER THE UN REGIME FOR PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHT.
One of the hallmarks of a human rights approach is the commitment to protecting the rights of vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals and groups. Human rights law is predicated on the fundamental principle of the inherent dignity and equal worth of every human being. Consistent with this norm, the law sets out minimum conditions for a dignified life in the form of rights or entitlements that imply duties for individuals and governments. The contemporary human rights movement, however, focuses less on the articulation of rights and more on an attempt to reduce the human suffering that results from noncompliance with human rights standards. Concern with the status of the vulnerable and disadvantaged comes from the realization that in virtually all societies certain individuals and groups systematically lack enjoyment of a wide range of human rights. Typically, vulnerable and disadvantaged populations (these terms are sometimes used interchangeably) have been victims of violations of civil and political rights and often, even more severely, of economic, social, and cultural rights. Many of these groups experience discrimination, social exclusion, stigmatization, and deprivation of protections and entitlements on an ongoing basis. They may be subject to human rights violations by the state, by others in the society, or from institutions, structural barriers, social dynamics and economic forces.
Despite the human rights commitment to protecting the fundamental rights of vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals and groups, human rights lack a central theory or framework for doing so. There are not agreed upon criteria for identifying vulnerable and disadvantaged populations, an accepted definition of vulnerability, or a standard list of such groups. Typically, human rights bodies deal with vulnerable and disadvantaged communities on an ad hoc basis. A relatively comprehensive generic list prepared by the Icelandic Human Rights Centre identifies thirteen groups in need of special protection: “(1) women and girls; (2) children; (3) refugees; (4) internally displaced persons; (5) stateless persons; (6) national minorities; (7) indigenous peoples; (8) migrant workers; (9) disabled persons; (10) elderly persons; (11) HIV positive persons and AIDS victims; (12) Roman/Gypsies/Sinti; and (13) lesbian, gay, and transgender people.” A list of vulnerable groups residing in India divides them into five categories: (1) vulnerable groups facing structural discrimination (women, scheduled castes, Dalits [Untouchables], Scheduled Tribes); (2) children and the aged; (3) those vulnerable due to disability; (4) those vulnerable due to migration; and (5) those with vulnerability due to stigma and discrimination (people living with HIV/AIDS and sexual minorities). In recent years there has also been a growing awareness that poverty or extreme poverty is an important source of vulnerability and violation of human rights.
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