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The International Observatory of Human Rights is a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote the study of human rights in a dynamic and critically-aware fashion, thereby engaging the interest and excitement of the scholarly community, human rights practitioners, and the wider public'.
Stalin’s Constitution and the “All-People’s Discussion”
Perhaps the most prominent aspect of the new Constitution’s discourse on rights was its retreat from neo-corporatism. Gone is the explicit deprivation of rights to entire categories of the population. Article 135 grants the right to vote and be elected to “all citizens of the USSR aged 18 or older, regardless of racial or national membership, faith, educational level, residence, social origin, property status, and past activities.” Articles 132 and 133 proclaim the “sacred duty of every citizen” to perform military service - without reference to who may or may not bear arms. Freedom of conscience, expression, assembly, and association (described both as “freedoms” and “rights”) are now “guaranteed by law to citizens [rather than to “toilers,” as in 1918] of the USSR.” And yet traces of the neo-corporative idiom - and more broadly, of the state’s use of rights as a political tool – remain. Whereas the various freedoms are granted to “citizens,” their exercise must “correspond to the interests of toilers and the strengthening of the socialist system.” Moreover, the all-important material guaranties by the state for the realisation of civil rights are extended to “toilers” rather than to “citizens.” True, “toilers” now meant the troika of officially recognized social groups (working class, peasantry, and intelligentsia), leaving only recalcitrant individuals on the sidelines; but the subtle distinction between “citizens” and “toilers” was not lost – least of all on the toilers themselves, as we will see in a moment.
INTERNATIONAL OBSERVATORY OF HUMAN RIGHTS (IOHR)
Soviet Rights-Talk in the Post-Stalin Era
Прав тот, у кого больше прав .
Right is he who has more rights.
“The problem with Soviet legal history,” Martin Malia once quipped, “is that there’s not enough of it.” The remark was meant to register the pervasiveness, among elites and masses alike, of extra-legal ways of doings things, the apparent irrelevance of Soviet law to Soviet practices, and the particular Bolshevik contempt (sanctioned by Marx, Lenin, and others) for the “bourgeois” notion of the rule of law . Soviet law, in this widely shared view, functioned primarily as a façade for domestic and foreign spectators, behind which the real mechanisms of power operated. Implicit in this approach is an assumption of bad faith: those laws, or at least some laws, were not meant to be actionable and instead served a purely ideological function. It is a critique whose pedigree reaches back at least to Max Weber’s attack on the “pseudoconstitutionalism” of tsarist Russia following the revolution of 1905.
Human Rights Topics for Upper Primary and Lower and Senior Secondary School
A human rights culture attempts to define principles for the positive conduct of all human behaviour. What follows are issues involved in realizing these principles. Although only a few activities are described for each issue, they should provide teachers with a start for developing their own activities. As some of these issues may prove to be controversial, the teacher’s sensitivity and discretion are required.
Teachers who want to concentrate on specific issues (e.g. peace and disarmament, world development, prisoners of conscience, minority peoples, anti-racism or antisexism) should present them in a human rights context. Students will then be able to see that what they discuss is only one aspect of a larger framework involving many other issues. This general understanding will provide breadth while the specific issue will provide depth. Teachers who specialize in different aspects of human rights should work side by side to provide understanding in depth.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Post-Stalin
Moving beyond the UN: The Declaration in International and Domestic Publics
Given the pervasiveness of government control in the Soviet Union , one might think that human rights diplomacy would remain within the narrow confines of the Foreign Ministry, or, at most, within the government sphere. In fact, various journalists and a voluntary association began promoting Soviet understandings of human rights both abroad and domestically. For these groups, international diplomacy was not distinct from domestic politics. Instead, the promotion of human rights occurred in a sphere where the international and domestic intertwined.