Human rights: the ticket towards a democratic Europe

Potočnik, Dunja (2007) Human rights: the ticket towards a democratic Europe. In: Croatian youth and European integration. Edition Science and society (22). Institut za društvena istraživanja, Zagreb, pp. 149-183. ISBN 978-953-6218-31-8

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It is possible to efficiently implement the systematic proclamation of human rights on a global scale that began in 1948, with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and in our times, among other places, expressed by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (United Nations Millennium Development Goals by the Year 2015, 2000), only through an orientation of the governments of certain states on the areas of education, preservation of health and an increase of income levels. Countries must construct partnerships on a global level, not to determine political and economic agendas so much, but to promote and protect human rights. The polarity between rights-freedoms and rights-claims has made relative the “ original greatness of human rights, but at the same time, it has expanded the area of their types and meanings, and increased the social mass of those interested in the rights of life. It has made them an instrument of the developmental and social dynamic of the industrial society, through an argument of great clashes between democracy and totalitarianism, of the developed and undeveloped, etc.” (Kalanj, 1996: 50). These tendencies are exacerbated by globalization, even though, seen as an ideal-type, globalization is meant to imply an ever widening implementation of the hypothesis of human rights, that is, their universality. However, we are unfortunately, witnesses of constant deviations in the process of their protection. “ Institutions are necessary but not enough. They need to be filled with content, used for the improvement of all sectors of human rights. This content and this path will lead Croatia toward the European Union and its high standards in eliminating discrimination” (Šimunović, 2004: 10). Modern thoughts on the development of human rights move in the direction of linking social development with increasing the protection of human rights – the emphasis is on prevention (instead of late intervention), social participation, activities of self-organization and self-help, promotion of autonomy and development of social skills, and need for greater transparency of public policies. In this context, it is very important to work on affirmation, promotion and implementation of values and ideas of civil society, of the culture of non-violence and tolerance, human rights, dialogue, cooperation and trust, as well as awareness-raising about the opportunities for social change. It is also very important to inform and stimulate the youth to get engaged, to question and educate themselves on those values and opportunities of work and life based on them, in order to propel them forward and contribute to the realization of positive shifts in society. Youth in our analysis are perceived as a link, just being formed in a specific social system, thus making it one of the most important elements of a positive reception and implementation of the basic postulates of human rights. The results of the research on validating specific human rights and freedoms, indicate that the greatest number of young persons accept the right to an education, right to work, personal security, right to privacy, social protection of the elderly and those at risk, equality before the law, rights of women and ownership rights. The comparison of acceptance of the observed human rights and freedoms of the population of youth and adults in Croatia, demonstrates that adults accept most rights to a higher degree than the youth, which can be interpreted through their better social integration. The analysis has shown that the preference of Croatian youth for certain human rights and freedoms is not conditioned by their observed socio-demographic and socio-structural attributes, aside from education, which points to the significance of the education system as an agent in improving the condition of human rights. Approximately one third of youth participants, were not satisfied with the respect for human rights in Croatia today as well as five years ago, while the number of those undecided has decreased, which can probably be attributed to the positive effect of public campaigns and some changes occurring during that period of time. There has been an increase from 1999 to 2004 in the number of youth who believe that human rights in Croatia are mostly or completely respected. The youth, compared to adults, express a higher level of criticism toward the existing degree of respect for human rights and freedoms. The results of analysis according to the social attributes of youth, demonstrate that the capability of assessment and higher criticism for the status of human rights in Croatia, is related to living in more economically prosperous regions, as well as the left-wing ideological-political orientation and female gender. Through an insight into the assessment of the contribution of institutions, associations and distinguished individuals by the youth population in 1999 and 2004, we have determined that today's generation of youth perceives to a greater degree, the contribution of all institutions, associations and significant individuals (except for the opposition) to the protection of human rights and freedoms in Croatia. To be more precise, most young people assess that all the protagonists completely or partially contribute to the realization of human rights in the country. There has been a significant increase regarding the perception of the contribution of the highest institutions of power compared to 1999. The adults differ from the youth by emphasizing the contribution of all the observed protagonists even more. Regional status, religiousness, the father's education and political party affiliation, notably affect the perception of the contribution of the observed protagonists of the realization of human rights in Croatia. Summarily, our analysis indicates that the youth accept human rights and freedoms decidedly, when they are discussed on a level of principles, but that there is a certain disharmony where specific rights and practices in Croatia are concerned, which can partially be interpreted as their insufficient competence regarding certain elements of social and political processes. As human rights and freedoms constitute universally accepted international standards and criteria of democracy in the modern world and its institutions today, the relationship of youth toward them, represents an indication of its social awareness and a precondition for its democratic activity. Even though the level of acceptance of human rights and freedoms as values seems to be high, there is wavering, indicating a need for additional engagement of some agents of socialization, especially the education system and the political protagonists. Freedom and human rights in Croatia are normatively regulated and are given to the individual at birth. However, freedom is not just a right, but a permanent mission, put before each young person, making all the difference for those that manage to gain entry into the world of active citizens, capable of making good their own, and others resources in the best possible way, thus contributing to the development of the world we live in. The first step in this ambitious plight is for the youth to contribute as much as possible to the democratization of Croatia, which would prepare them, as well as the country, for joining the united Europe.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Language: English.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Youth, human rights and freedoms, democracy, Croatia, Europe
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
Depositing User: Karolina
Date Deposited: 30 Dec 2015 12:01
Last Modified: 30 Dec 2015 12:01

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