HUMAN RIGHTS IN EUROPE AND THE AMERICAS

Publication Date10 Oct 2007
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1016/S1521-6136(07)09001-X
Pages11-38
AuthorKai Ambos,Nils Meyer-Abich
HUMAN RIGHTS IN EUROPE
AND THE AMERICAS: REGIONAL
PROTECTION SYSTEMS AND
THE PROCESS OF REGIONAL
INTEGRATION
Kai Ambos and Nils Meyer-Abich
1. INTRODUCTION
Although any culture of this world has made efforts in developing its own,
often contradictory categories of favoured and undesirable behaviours and
treatments, the idea of elaborating a catalogue of universal rights being
inherent to every human being regardless of its cultural and social
background has a long history (Camargo, 2002, p. 15ff.). Beside the
universal human rights instruments, e.g. multilateral treaties and UN
declarations,
1
other instruments and systems have – especially in the last
decades – emerged on a regional level.
2
Taking as examples Europe and
Latin America, it can be observed that human rights play an important role
in at least two senses: on the one hand, comprehensive regional human
rights systems have been created in both regions; on the other hand, human
rights may have an impact on a process of regional (economic) integration
in different ways. Both aspects are important to understand the general
Crime and Human Rights
Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance, Volume 9, 11–38
Copyright r2007 by Elsevier Ltd.
All rights of reproduction in any form reserved
ISSN: 1521-6136/doi:10.1016/S1521-6136(07)09001-X
11
framework applicable for dealing with crime, and for preventing crime
altogether.
2. THE SYSTEMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION
IN EUROPE AND THE AMERICAS
In the following paragraphs we will give an overview of the two regional
systems of human rights protection, thereby suggesting the links with issues
of crime and justice.
2.1. The European System of Human Rights Within the Council of Europe
The origins of the Council of Europe may be traced back to the political
initiatives shortly after the Second World War with the aim of a closer
cooperation between the sovereign states of Europe (Blackburn, 2001, p. 3).
It was founded on 5 May 1949 in Strasbourg, France, and with its 46
member states is currently the largest European organisation.
3
Its task is to
achieve a greater unity between its members on the basis of the maintenance
and further realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms (Art. 1
(a), (b) Statute of the Council of Europe) (Jacobs & White, 2002, pp. 1–3;
Oppermann, 2005, pp. 23–24). The Statute contains a quite unique
requirement for membership in its Art. 3, namely that every member state
‘‘must accept the principles of the rule of law and of the enjoyment by all
persons within its jurisdiction of human rights and fundamental freedoms’’.
Complementing this provision, Art. 8 states that a member state which has
seriously violated Art. 3 may be suspended from its rights and requested by
the Committee of Ministers to withdraw from the Council of Europe or, if
the state does not comply, expelled. The most important Convention of the
Council of Europe is the European Convention on Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms (hereafter ECHR or the Convention).
In 1948, when representatives of European states came together in The
Hague with the purpose of establishing an organisation to protect
democracy and human rights, there was a discussion as to whether all
categories of human rights – civil and political as well as social and
economic rights – should be included in one instrument. Although the latter
rights were recognised, it was decided to include only the political and civil
rights into the ECHR and create another instrument for the social and
economic rights (Betten & Grief, 1998, p. 27). The ECHR was signed by the
KAI AMBOS AND NILS MEYER-ABICH12

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