NewsRoundup 6/7/15 - Human Rights, Social Contract & The Citizens: Three Pillars Of Civil Governance & Social Conducts In Nigeria

[ Masterweb Reports: Intersociety reports ] - (Civil Governance & Citizens’ Rights, Onitsha Nigeria, 5th July 2015)-Following the theme for 2014 World Human Rights Declaration (66th Anniversary), adopted by the United Nations, to the effect that “Every Day Is World Human Rights Day”, the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) has resolved to remind the people of Nigeria, classified by Section 13 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended in 2011; as “all authorities and persons exercising executive, judicial and legislative powers (as well as the citizens)” on the need to be mindful at all times of their sacred obligations to the society and the people contained in the Social Contract.


This is as a result of the fact that social woes bedeviling Nigeria in contemporary times are attributed to non adherence to and ignorant of the Social Contract and its obligations. Our sole objective is to expose Nigerians, again, to how Social Contract gave birth to limited democratic government and human rights just as philosophy gave birth to natural and social sciences. The overall goal is to see publicly moderated civil governance and constitutionally moderated social conducts in Nigeria for the purpose of ensuring maximum happiness for maximum number of Nigerian people democratically, socially, culturally, politically, economically and safety-wise.


Human Rights Defined: They are inalienable, indissoluble and indivisible rights to which all human beings are equally entitled, irrespective of creed, nationality, race, political opinions, color, social affinity, age, ethnicity, religion or sex . The enjoyment of these rights is not absolute, and is subject to respecting the rights and freedoms of others and community rights and responsibilities put in place in a democratic setting to ensure public security, safety, order, morality, cohesion and peaceful coexistence. Above all, the foundations of the United Nations, the African Union and the Federal Republic of Nigeria are all laid upon Freedom, Equality and Justice. This is in accordance with the Charters of the UN and the AU as well as the Preamble of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.


Types of Human Rights: There are Right to Life, Right to Personal Liberty, Right to Dignity of Human Person, Right to Freedom of Movement, Right to Freedom of Conscience, Thought & Religion (popularized in 304 AD by an Emperor Pope), Right to Peaceful Assembly & Association, Right to Education, Right to Work, Right to Freedom of Expression & Press, Right to Privacy & Family, Right to Freedom from Discrimination, Right to Own Immovable Property, Right to Fair Hearing, Right to Rest & Leisure, Right to Social Life & Social Amenities, Right to Vote or be Voted for at Elections, Right to Participate in the Public Affairs of one’s country & Serve in Public Office, Right to Equal Pay for Equal Work done, Right to Good Working Environment, Right to Health, Right to Shelter, Right to Clothing, Right to Citizenship, Right to Independent Opinion, Right to Parental Care, Right to Asylum & Refugee, Right to Live within and across Borders, Right to Equality before the Law, Right to Compensation in the event of Rights Abuse, Right to Development, Right to Self Determination and Right to Live in Healthy Environment.


Human Rights Categorized: Human Rights are majorly categorized into Three Generations of Human Rights. First generation rights are called Civil & Political Rights, i.e. right to life and right to freedom of expression. The second generation rights are called Economic, Social & Cultural Rights, i.e. right to education, right to work and right to rest and leisure. The third generation rights are called Collective or Solidarity Rights, i.e. rights to citizens’ welfare, security and peaceful coexistence. There is also another popularly called Fourth Generation Rights or Environmental Rights, i.e. rights to healthy environment and development.


That is to say that there are (1) individual rights or civil liberties, (2) collective or community rights, (3) social emancipation and cohesive rights and (4) environmental rights and protection duties. There are also citizens’ civic responsibilities; likewise government duties to the citizens. In the right to life, for instance, no government has a right to take away life of any citizen arbitrarily. This means that government can take away the life of any citizen provided it is in accordance with the law such as executing the sentence of a court of competent jurisdiction in matters involving capital punishment or in defense of rights of others like during violent disturbances or in armed conflicts (civilians exempted).


On the other hand, no citizen has a right to take away the life of another, except in extreme circumstances like in self defense, in the event of a murderous attack. No citizen has a right to take away his or her life no matter the circumstances. Also no corporate body, i.e. business and social enterprises or civil society bodies, has a right to take away the life of any citizen. In the event of violation of such right, the criminal law will pounce heavily on them individually or collectively. In the event of individual criminal responsibility, the perpetrators caught will be charged and prosecuted for murder and in the event of collective criminal responsibility; members of the incorporated trustees or leadership of such body will be charged for manslaughter (lesser degree of murder charge and punishment).


Origins Of Human Rights: God or Divinity-The first origin of Human Rights is commonly believed to have come from God as thus: (a) He created human beings in dignity and equality, (b) human beings so created were endowed with conscience, reason and self control above other animals and living things, (c) human beings so created were asked to love their neighbors and live in peace at all times. On the other hand, human beings, uncontrollably, are inherently beastly, wicked, domineering and selfish (Thomas Hobbes); not usually against themselves, but against their fellow human beings, which they have extended to other living things and environment leading to gross rights and environmental abuses.


To earthly and humanly tame or control the above beastly manifestations in human beings, the Social Contract was put in place by philosophical thinkers of the old. The Social Contract was inspired by the Holy Book’s instruction- do to others what you will want them do to you and refrain from doing to them what you will not do to them. The historical Social Contract is dated back to several centuries and became globally popular and recognized in 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th century ADs. It was particularly popularized by the great philosophical works of the trio of Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), John Locke (1632-1704) and Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778).


To Jean Jacques Rousseau, man was indeed born free, but everywhere in chains. For Thomas Hobbes, the happiness of man in a society has been gripped by fear of violent death in the hands of another. The two great philosophers favored a society in which the society and its people were sovereign and free leading to a community where a group of free individuals agree for the sake of their common (social contract) good and protection to form institutions to govern themselves. John Locke added more popularity to the greatness of Social Contract.


In his 1690 famous book called the Second Treatise of Civil Government, John Locke saw and called for a situation where a free, equal and independent people agreed to be governed in return for certain secure enjoyment for their individual rights, which the courts and police powers of a government can enforce leading to every free individual having a moral right to be protected from arbitrary interference by government or other individuals, of his or her sacred rights. These reinforce the legal philosophy of man’s equality in dignity and rights and inevitable justifications for their protection by a limited government.


Therefore, the first universality of Human Rights in modern time came from the great philosophical work of John Locke, from where the first President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson took his country’s independence declaration&

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