International Humanitarian Law plays a key role in protecting human rights of people. When IHL rules are violated the perpetrators are punished according to the domestic law of the State concerned. IHL is facing new challenges day by day due to the complexity of contemporary warfare. However, we can see new developments in this field of law those attempt to address such challenges and new modalities. War against terrorism and guerrilla warfare can be pointed out as examples of emerging issues.

Tracing the history of the ideals of justice, equality, liberty, democracy, laws and rights, this module will give you an insight of the thinking of political legal philosophers who had initially defined the concept of human rights as political one. However, with continuous struggle of the people through out the ages to assert their personal /individual autonomy took them to liberate them selves from the clutches of authoritarian rules and paved for instituting democracies where their consent has become the sole basis for any ‘legitimate’ rule.

This course gives an overview of the various levels at which individuals or groups of persons who are aggrieved by violations of human rights can seek redress. The UN human rights system is complemented by three regional human rights systems, which have also established redress mechanisms at a regional level. The three lessons in this course, not only introduce you to redress mechanisms at the three levels, but also guide you in identifying the inter-relationship among the various mechanisms.

Group rights are rights enjoyed by people as a group. These rights can be enjoyed by all members as a group or only by some individuals who belong to a certain group.  As such group rights are not necessarily collective rights, which are exercised by a group of people collectively. Accordingly group rights also can be claimed by individuals.

Examples for such groups are children, women, men, indigenous people, youth, workers, religious groups, displaces persons etc. These are very broad groups, and there can be variations within these groups.

There are several reasons to recognize certain rights as group rights. One reason is it gives more recognition and force to a right when it is claimed as a group right. On the other hand it has become necessary to claim rights as group rights because of the social or political oppression on certain rights exercised by identifiable groups.