Are human rights universal?

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    well i got given my assignment and the question is 'are human rights universal?' what do you guys think about it ?
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    (Original post by xhorxhina)
    well i got given my assignment and the question is 'are human rights universal?' what do you guys think about it ?
    If you look at the main human rights instruments you will see a very clear commitment to universalism. This is largely based on a belief that human rights are derived from natural law and stress the equality and inherent dignity of each individual human being simply by virtue of their being human. A criticism of this approach suggests, however, that human rights are largely a Western/developed world/northern hemisphere construct and act as a sort of modern day version of Western Imperialism, imposing the ideas of the West on other cultures. Universalism offers a 'one size fits all' approach to human rights which is rejected by those who say that cultural differences must be taken into account. So the central argument to address is one of Universalism versus Cultural Relativism. A simple example is Art 17 UDHR - 'Everyone has the right to own property alone ....'. That might be fine in many western societies but in some African village societies where land is communally owned and worked for the benefit of all it strikes directly against the very cultural fabric of centuries old traditions and life.

    Any good human rights text book will have a chapter on Universalism v Cultural Relativism. A seminal article on the debate is Jack Donnelly 'Cultural Relativism and Universal Human Rights', Human Rights Quarterly 1984 (sorry don't have full citation). As far as I remember (a while since I read it) Donnelly doesn't argue for one or the other but sees a spectrum with Universalism on one side and Culture on the other. Depending on the importance of the right, how it has been interpreted and applied, you can move along that spectrum.
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    (Original post by cliffg)
    If you look at the main human rights instruments you will see a very clear commitment to universalism. This is largely based on a belief that human rights are derived from natural law and stress the equality and inherent dignity of each individual human being simply by virtue of their being human. A criticism of this approach suggests, however, that human rights are largely a Western/developed world/northern hemisphere construct and act as a sort of modern day version of Western Imperialism, imposing the ideas of the West on other cultures. Universalism offers a 'one size fits all' approach to human rights which is rejected by those who say that cultural differences must be taken into account. So the central argument to address is one of Universalism versus Cultural Relativism. A simple example is Art 17 UDHR - 'Everyone has the right to own property alone ....'. That might be fine in many western societies but in some African village societies where land is communally owned and worked for the benefit of all it strikes directly against the very cultural fabric of centuries old traditions and life.

    Any good human rights text book will have a chapter on Universalism v Cultural Relativism. A seminal article on the debate is Jack Donnelly 'Cultural Relativism and Universal Human Rights', Human Rights Quarterly 1984 (sorry don't have full citation). As far as I remember (a while since I read it) Donnelly doesn't argue for one or the other but sees a spectrum with Universalism on one side and Culture on the other. Depending on the importance of the right, how it has been interpreted and applied, you can move along that spectrum.


    Thank you, I've been looking at some vedios and have done some research, should let you know how I get on.*
 
 
 
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