In this part, human rights fora will be analysed. First, the universal system for the protection of human rights will be discussed, meaning in this context the United Nations system. Then the three regional systems in Europe, the Americas and Africa will be examined. Finally, Chapter IV turns to the human rights arrangements within the framework of the Organisation on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
This handbook deals with the more established regional systems. There are, however, other regional arrangements for the protection of human rights. For example, within the framework of the League of Arab States (founded in 1945) there is a Permanent Arab Commission on Human Rights that has adopted the Arab Charter on Human Rights. The original Charter was adopted in 1994 but never entered into force because it failed to obtain a sufficient number of ratifications. Nonetheless, during the Arab Summit held in Tunis in May 2004, a ‘modernised’ version of the Arab Charter on Human Rights was adopted. The revised document represents a major improvement over the Charter of 1994, affirming the principles contained in the UN Charter, the International Bill of Rights and the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. The Charter, which entered into force in March 2008, contains a number of traditional human rights as well as provisions of a more political nature. It also provides the members of the League of Arab States with an arrangement comparable to those of other regions examined here. In fact, the new Arab Charter creates a promising monitoring mechanism, similar to the Human Rights Committee established by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.