(All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights as per Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article-1)
The prohibition on racial discrimination is part of customary international law. As the International Court of Justice has affirmed, protection against racial discrimination is one of those obligations that, by their very nature, "are the concern of all States. In view of the importance of the rights involved, all States can be held to have a legal interest in their protection."
As a member of the United Nations, Myanmar is also legally obliged to take action to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion. Discrimination is an attack on the very notion of human rights - a denial that all human beings are equal in dignity and worth. This is why international human rights law is grounded on the principle of indiscrimination. The drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) stated explicitly that they considered the indiscrimination principle to be the basis of the Declaration.
The UDHR provides in Article 2 that everyone is entitled to all the rights in the Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as "race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status."
Identical wording appears in both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), in what is known as the "identity clause". Virtually identical language appears in the regional human rights conventions (Inter-American, African, and European) and in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Indiscrimination on the basis of one’s identity is so central to international human rights law that the identity clause constitutes either the first or second article of everyone of these instruments. The thinking behind the identity clause is that it violates international human rights principles to be deprived of one’s rights because of a characteristic that one cannot change, such as, one’s race or ethnic origin or because of a characteristic that is so central to one’s being that one should not be forced to change it, such as religion.
In addition to the general treaties cited above, several international treaties and other instruments are devoted wholly to tackling specific types of discrimination. Especially pertinent to the issue on hand are; the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965) and the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief ( 1981).
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination defines racial discrimination (in Article 1) as "any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing of human rights and fundamental freedoms".
In addition, the special attention that states must pay to the rights of persons belonging to minorities, has been recognised in Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides that "In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language."
In 1992, the UN General Assembly adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. The Declaration sets out in detail the rights of persons belonging to minorities including the right to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, and to use their own language; to express their characteristics and to develop their culture, language, religion, traditions and customs; to participate effectively in cultural, religious, social, economic and public life; to participate effectively in decisions on the national and, where appropriate, regional level concerning the minority to which they belong or the regions in which they live; and to establish and maintain, without any discrimination, free and peaceful contacts with other members of their group.
Article 4(1) of the Declaration provides that "States shall take measures where required to ensure that persons belonging to minorities may exercise fully and effectively all their human rights and fundamental freedoms without any discrimination and in full equality before the law."
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