Human Rights in the New Europe: Problems and Progress

By David P. Forsythe | Go to book overview

5

After the Velvet Revolution

Pavel Holländer

In the new Czechoslovakia, between 1989 and 1992, great attention was paid to the traditional or first generation civil and political rights. This was, no doubt, primarily because they were so extensively denied under the previous regime. Both in the interwar years of the I920s and I930s, and during the brief Prague spring of the I960s, Czechoslovakia had shown a renewed interest in these rights. The Velvet Revolution allowed a return to this emphasis.

By contrast, there was only slight interest in the second generation rights of an economic and social nature. Despite the obvious importance of such subjects as adequate food, clothing, shelter, and health care, the Federal Parliament was reluctant to address such subjects in terms of fundamental human rights. Public opinion in the federal republic, however, revealed that there was considerable interest in a large welfare state. Federal authorities may have been reluctant to emphasize social and economic human rights because they thought extensive social and economic regulation were at variance with the economic needs of the country. Or it might have been that Marxist socialism gave socioeconomic rights a bad name.

There was almost no interest in the so-called third generation of solidarity, or collective, human rights, entailing claims to the rights of peace, development, a healthful environment, the common heritage, and the like. The only collective right of any importance in Czechoslo

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