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Human Rights

 

STANDARDIZATION

UDHR

There are always pundits "out-there" that point out that a document indeed exists listing such "Universal" human rights. This is true. Such a document does indeed exist. It is called The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights (UDHR). It was sponsored by the United Nations and it can be found in their website. Also, a great deal more of information can be had from Wikipedia by searching for it.

We won't be performing a detailed analysis of this document, simply because it is too extensive. This task will be left to a later post. What we will do is to point out a few basic elements.

This document was adopted in 1948 by a vote of 48 to none with 8 abstentions. This is, 17% of key world countries did not want to have anything to do with it, but it would have been politically embarrassing to vote against.

At the time, there were approximately 74 countries in the world. This means that the UDHR was approved by 65% of all world countries. So much for "universality".

The declaration has 30 articles. Of them, 8 (or 27%) deal explicitly with laws; 12 (or 40%) deal indirectly with the law and the remaining 10 (or 33%) can be interpreted one way or another. This means that at least 66% of all UDHR articles are there to protect us from the law!

The UDHR later on evolved into two treaties which are considered "International Law":

  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

The first was adopted in 1966 and up to 2014 there are 162 parties to it (or 84% of all countries) while the second was adopted in 1966 and up to 2014 there are 168 parties to it (or 87% of all countries).

The first has 21 "reservations" (or 13%) and the second has 13 (or 8%).

In other words, there is such "unanimity" in these declarations that is has taken almost half a century (48 years) to reach a level of about 86% consensus. However, this "consensus" is quite incomplete because about 11% of the parties made "reservations" (this is, they gave notice that they won't follow certain articles).

Almost all of the articles of both treaties deal directly or indirectly with laws. Again, the articles are there to protect us from laws, not to protect our rights.

Of course, it goes without saying that although many countries have signed the implementation of these treaties, their application is nowhere to be seen. In other words, in most countries these treaties are dead letter law. In most countries the reality is that the Judiciary is subservient to the Political power. Politicians agree to these treaties because they know full well that in practice, they are un-enforceable.

If you would like to litigate a human-rights issue, for example, one such court of jurisdiction would be the European Court of Human Rights or the Human Rights Committee (of the UN). But hold on because this is not the whole story. This so-called "International Law" is consent-based. This means that if a country chooses to ignore it, it can! And the exact consequences of so doing are exactly ZERO!

In the end, the UDHR and its derivatives are meaningless pieces of bureaucratic dead law.

The ICESCR has 31 articles (with many sub-articles) and the ICCPR has 53 articles (with many sub-articles) and two Operational Protocols (114 and 77 parties respectively) that gave rise to a complex jurisprudence.

Legalisms

Most articles in these treaties are written in such a manner so as to make them subjective and subject to interpretation to the point of being useless. The key is always in the details. These details are the ones that allow for widespread de-standardization.

A simple example; "liberty and security of the person, in the form of freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention and the right to habeas corpus" (ICCPR - Articles 9 – 11).

How exactly is "liberty" defined? Through country laws, in other words, whatever politicians decide they will let people do.

What is "arbitrary arrest"? Is it judicial involvement? Police decision? Security forces? Military? Proactive? Preventive? Well, country laws define what "arbitrary" means.

What is the meaning of "detention"? A few minutes? Hours? Days? Special circumstances? Terrorism? Again, country laws define the term.

What is the meaning of right to habeas corpus? Is this right absolute? Relative? Can it be suspended? How about when national security is involved? Special circumstance? Executive order? Yet again, country laws' choice.

In practice, these treaties devolved into something written by international lawyers for international lawyers. They have pretty much zero applicability for the average person in their daily lives. It is also true that this is a generalization. Once in a while and in selected cases, these treaties are indeed applied. But these cases are so rare that in practice they are negligible.

In signing these treaties politicians have zero downside. It is not that they are convinced of their contents, but that they know full well that these treaties are meaningless.

At the end of the day, the "universality" and "standardization" of these declarations of human rights is neither standard nor universal.

MARKET ISSUES

Any reading of laws, regulations or treaties dealing with human rights will yield the same result. These rights can be classified into the following types:

  • Things that you must not do (e.g. taking private property)
  • Things that you must do (e.g. submit to the authority of the government)
  • Things that the government must not do (e.g. arbitrary arrest)
  • Things that the government must do (e.g. provide education)

Things you must not do are simply things for which you do not have a voluntary agreement to do. For example, you cannot simply take a property without a purchase agreement. But this agreement is an economic transaction. What this means is that you must obey the economic rules of exchange.

Things you must do are simply rules that demand that you behave in one way or another according to the laws of the country. But what this means is that you are supposed to obey these rules in order to maximize "good" according to a given political theory. However, in the end, if you look closely you will notice that most definitions of "good" are actually economic. The notion of wellbeing is essentially economic because we are physical beings operating is a scarce environment. Our wellbeing demands goods and services. Political theories simply dictate how those goods and services will be distributed. Again, this means obeying certain economic rules.

Things that the government must not do simply mean that the government must not interfere with certain aspects of our lives. But what this means in reality is that the government does not have a voluntary agreement to act in a certain way towards us and therefore it must abstain from doing so. Again, this simply means that the government must obey the economic rules of exchange.

Things that the government must do simply means that the government must provide certain goods or services to maximize our "good" in any manner in which a political theory so defines. This means that the government has a tacit voluntary agreement to provide such goods or services. Which means that the government is obeying a tacit economic exchange agreement.

In the end, all so-called human rights are simply rules that specify whether or not we have voluntary agreements for the exchange of goods or services between ourselves or us and the government. Human rights are basically and inherently economic rules.

They are still arbitrary rules, of course, but they are all economic.

As such, if there is a problem with those rules, the solution is economic, not political.

An example may help clarify the issue.

Take Article 21.2 of the UDHR: "Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country"

What this means is that when there is public service, a service provided by the state, all citizens are entitled to have access to it. This means that there is a service that people need and for some reason they cannot get it by themselves. Either they are too poor or the government has declared an artificial monopoly under its control in this area. The solution to the problem is not to allow all citizens equal access to a limited service, but to provide all citizens with the service. And how do we do this? By increasing the wealth of the citizens. And how do we do this? By removing government interference with the free markets. And what happens then? People become wealthier and at the same time there is a larger selection of vendors providing this service.

Suddenly, the service becomes accessible to all people that so desire. There is no need for further "rights". Problem solved.

The issue of human rights can and should be solved through the economy with a negative right: remove all governments from all interference with the free market.

And how do we accomplish this?

Simple. Remove all governments.

OUR VIEW

Since we are Absolute Austro-Libertarians we also base our political views on a principle. This principle is the non-interference with private property without a voluntary agreement. That's it. Almost everything else originates in this principle. The Master Contract deals almost exclusively with derivatives from this principle. The "good" that our system maximizes is liberty and through liberty the free market.

The side effect of this phenomenon is that we do not need "human rights".

To begin with, there is no government and therefore there is no need to have rights that would protect us from it. This covers the vast majority of human rights.

As to the human rights regulating the interaction between people, our system is simple. The interaction is either voluntary or liable to the full extent of the damage. This means that at all times our system provides economic solutions to "human rights".

And how does our system manages scarcity? Through the free market. Our goal is not to divide a small cake into even smaller parts, but to develop a way to have a gigantic cake where everybody can have a piece, albeit not of the same size. What is relevant here is that this piece provides more goods and services than the one-size-fits-all piece of the small cake governments share today. This simply makes all remaining "human rights" mute and unnecessary.

SCARCITY

Basically, we are physical beings and live in a physical universe. As such, we require physical goods and services (food, shelter, clothing, medical attention, etc). But our world is physically limited and so it is our capacity to produce goods and services. Hence, we need a system to manage this capacity. This system is called The Free Market or more precisely, Voluntary Agreements.

However, in a world ruled by governments which create artificial scarcity through artificial monopolies, artificial rules are necessary to ensure these scarce goods and services are spread out "fairly" among the citizens. These rules are laws which include Human Rights which are "International Laws". At a meta-legal level (i.e. a level above country law), Human Rights do just that. They are artificial rules that attempt to manage artificial scarcity.

If we remove artificial scarcity those rules are no longer necessary because everything reverts to the free market and voluntary agreements.

CONCLUSION

Human rights are a market problem first and foremost. More precisely, they represent the absence of free markets. Governments prevent the activities of free markets and in so doing; they create the problems that necessitate human rights in the first place. Governments create artificial scarcity which requires human rights to ensure everybody gets a small piece of the shrinking pie. As this is an economic problem, the correct solution to it is not political but economic.

Your Human Rights begin exactly where your right to a free market has been curtailed. You may choose not to believe this, it is most certainly your choice, but if you do so, Human Rights will forever remain an insolvable mystery. Your choice.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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