By: Terry Ahtziry Cardenas Banda, lawyer and former professor.
Human Rights is a concept that emerged on the 18th century, which lead to the recognition by nature of man and women as an autonomous individual with inalienable fundamental rights that should be safeguard by the State.
The development and perception of human rights in Mexico and the United States are quite different, the recognition and establishment of these rights occurred in different time period in both countries. The United States of America established human rights through the American Declaration of Independence of 1776, document based on the idea that all human beings are equal. The American Declaration of Independence addressed specific inalienable rights: right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Afterwards, the United States of America promulgated in Virginia the Bill of Rights, document that reflected the same ideas of the American Declaration of Independence and became an amendment of the Constitution. It is worth mentioning that the human rights essence is reflected in the Bill of Rights but the concept as such was not introduced, these rights enshrined in the American Constitution are better known as civil rights.
On the other hand, the implementation of the concept of human rights in Mexico was granted until the constitutional reform of 2011, significant reform that changed the course of Mexican protection of human rights. Before the reform of June of 2011, the Mexican Constitution of 1917 (actual Constitution in Mexico) recognized social rights and granted guarantees to individuals, but the concept of human rights as inalienable right was not recognized as such per se. The Mexican Constitution of 1917 presented the concept of warranty or guarantee and clearly established that the state granted this warranties and the state can suspend them in certain conditions.
Through the reform of 2011, Mexico recognized not only the concept of human rights but also allowed that international treaties be at the same level of the constitution and the human rights established on treaties that Mexico is party need to be protect and enforce in Mexico.
There is no doubt that the Mexican constitution and its reform adopted and embraced human rights. The 2011 reform establishes the enforcement of international standards of human rights. However, it is true that the Mexican legal documents are a great piece of legal legislation, but that is just writing when it comes to enforcement and execution, the Mexican government is still short. The work for human rights protection in Mexico needs to be on top of the agenda. The mechanisms for the enforcement of human rights had not been embraced and performed efficiently.
Moreover, Mexico’s struggles with human rights arise in great part for not having uniformity between lower level legislations. The reform of 2011 is a masterpiece that has not been pass on to the state’s and lower level legislations.
Furthermore, referring to the United States seems they have an issue making the difference between civil rights and human rights. The United States has struggle accepting the concept of human rights since this seems like an international concept not a domestic. Their concerned for their sovereign is always on the map and for that matter there is no acceptance of human rights per se, but of civil rights, there is, and they have strong mechanisms of compliance and protection. Additionally, the United States is not party of all human rights treaties. It had become part of some of them but not all. This becomes a concern between acknowledge of human rights and enforcement: which is better? Can one exist without the other?
Nevertheless, both countries have quite an interesting development of human rights in different periods of time. Human rights are protected in both countries. However, work still needs to be done, even though, efforts had been made.