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Conflict and Human Rights

The foundation of freedom, justice and peace is the recognition of the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of every human being. In support of this philosophy, mankind has created the doctrine of ‘Human Rights’, which refers to the concept of human beings as having universal rights and status, regardless of legal jurisdiction or other localizing factors, such as ethnicity and nationality.

Horrified by the barbarism of the Second World War, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in December 1948. Its main purpose was to urge member nations to promote human, civil, economic and social rights. In addition to this Declaration, many States created legal covenants and institutions that put greater pressure on them to follow human rights norms.

Although the doctrine of Human Rights was formalized only after the Second World War, conflict (armed and non-armed) has destroyed the lives of millions of civilians since the beginning of time. Violations of international humanitarian and human rights law(s) are common in many armed conflicts. In certain circumstances, some of these violations can even be seen as constituting genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.

This relationship between conflict and human rights is characterized by its dynamism and complexity - one that is interconnected and continues to shape the course of war and peace.

The European Foundation for South Asia (EFSAS) researches this inherent complex relationship with regard to the numerous conflicts in South Asia. We provide independent policy research, advice and analysis with the aim to promote and safeguard human rights in times of conflict in this volatile region, and thereby contribute towards lasting peace.