The Human Rights Protection of Vulnerable Groups

The aim of human rights instruments is the protection of those vulnerable to violations of their fundamental human rights. There are particular groups who, for various reasons, are weak and vulnerable or have traditionally been victims of violations and consequently require special protection for the equal and effective enjoyment of their human rights. Often human rights instruments set out additional guarantees for persons belonging to these groups; the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, for example, has repeatedly stressed that the ICESCR is a vehicle for the protection of vulnerable groups within society, requiring states to extend special protective measures to them and ensure some degree of priority consideration, even in the face of severe resource constraints.

This part focuses on groups that are especially vulnerable to abuse of human rights; groups that are structurally discriminated against like women and groups that have difficulties defending themselves and are therefore in need of special protection. Twelve groups are discussed: 1) women and girls; 2) children; 3) refugees; 4) internally displaced persons; 5) stateless persons; 6) national minorities; 7) indigenous peoples 8) migrant workers; 9) disabled persons; 10) elderly persons; 11) HIV positive persons and AIDS victims; 12) Roma/Gypsies/Sinti; and 13) lesbian, gay and transgender people. Clearly this is not an exhaustive list of persons in need of particular protection, as many other groups not discussed in this part suffer from discrimination and oppression.

Icelandic Human Rights Centre

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