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Human Rights copy two

human rights

A right is a claim that we are justified in making. Human rights are the basis of everything people cherish about their way of life. In their absence, lasting happiness is impossible, because there is no personal security, no freedom and no opportunity. People have long recognized their fundamental importance and have sought to articulate and defend them. Human rights are universal, which means that they apply equally to all people everywhere in the world, and with no time limit. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10th December 1948 is the world’s premier human rights instrument. Its opening paragraph is a powerful affirmation of the principles that lie at the heart of the modern human rights system;

“Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”
Every individual is entitled to enjoy his or her human rights without distinction of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, birth or other status. We should note that the universality of human rights does not in any way threaten the rich diversity of individuals or cultures. Diversity can still exist in a world where everyone is equal, and equally deserving of respect. However there is a philosophical objection asserts essentially that nothing can be universal; that all rights and values are defined and limited by cultural perceptions. This philosophy adds that if there is no universal culture, there can be no universal human rights.
However our discussion opposes cultural relativism. We believe that human rights are universal and not just a contemporary feature of post world war II international goals that derive from particular western traditions as explained below.

We assert that human rights are universal because concepts of justice and law, the legitimacy of government, the dignity of the individual, protection from oppressive or arbitrary rule, and participation in the affairs of the community are found in every society on the face of this earth. Therefore all human rights and values cannot be limited by cultural perceptions. In any case, there are no grounds for believing that norms originating elsewhere should be inherently unsuitable for solving problems in another place. Such a belief commits the genetic fallacy by assuming that a norm is suitable only to the culture of its origin. But the origin of an idea in one culture does not entail its unsuitability to another culture.

Some leaders in the developing worlds often argue that their states cannot afford human rights, since the tasks of nation building, economic development, and the consolidation of the state structure to these ends are still unfinished. But this argument is weak because these very same leaders pick and choose rights freely from other cultures, adopting whatever is in their political interest and agenda, which means that all human rights can actually work even in the less developed countries. A good example is of the Gambian President General Yahya Jammeh who a month ago banned human rights activities in his country thereby denying them their rights of speech, assembly, among others. But when he attended the UN general assembly 2 weeks later, he also demanded powerful states like United States to respect rights of leaders from weaker states like Gambia.

Many critics of the universality of human rights reflect a false opposition between the primacy of the individual and the paramountcy of society. Many of the civil and political rights protect groups, while many of the social and economic rights protect individuals. Thus the two sets of rights, and the two covenants that codify them, are not mutually exclusive. They sustain and nourish each other. While groups may collectively exercise rights, the individuals within them should also be permitted the exercise of their rights within the group, rights that the group may not infringe upon.
The societies of developing countries have not remained in a pre-Western state, they have all been subject to change and distortion by external influence, both as a result of colonialism in many cases and through participation in modern interstate relations. The systems of governance, the education, infrastructure, religion and ways of life predominantly in developing states are typical of western civilization. So, if we have adopted these western values then how can we dismiss the universality of human rights simply because they were grounded on western traditions.You cannot impose the model of a modern nation-state cutting across tribal boundaries and conventions on your country, appoint a president and an ambassador to the United Nations, and then argue that tribal traditions should be applied to judge the human rights conduct of the resulting modern state.

Culture is constantly evolving in any living society, responding to both internal and external stimuli, and there is much in every culture that societies quite naturally outgrow and reject. This means that human rights should not be affected by the difference in an ever changing culture yet rights are inherent for example the culture of female genital mutilation practiced by the Sabiny people of Sebei in Uganda. Today many Sabiny are abandoning it. The problem with the culture argument is that it groups all members of a society under a cultural framework that may in fact be inimical to them. Those who freely choose to live by and to be treated according to their traditional cultures are welcome to do so, provided others who wish to be free are not oppressed in the name of a culture they prefer to disavow.

Tolerance and mercy have always, and in all cultures, been ideals of governance and human behavior. If we do not unequivocally assert the universality of the rights that oppressive governments abuse, and if we admit that these rights can be diluted and changed, ultimately we risk giving oppressive governments an intellectual justification for the morally indefensible. Objections to the applicability of international human rights standards have all too frequently been voiced by authoritarian rulers and power elites to rationalize their violations of human rights violations that serve primarily, if not solely, to sustain them in power. A case in point is the Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe when he persecutes his political opponents. Whenever he is asked to respect such rights he argues that human rights activists are working in the interest of western powers.
Human rights do not impose one cultural standard but rather one legal standard for minimum protection necessary for human dignity. Universal human rights emerge with sufficient flexibility to respect and protect cultural diversity and integrity. States have maximum room for cultural variation without diluting the minimum standards of human rihts established by law. The Vienna Declaration provides explicit consideration for culture in human rights promotion and protection. It states that the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural, religious backgrounds must be borne in mind. It recognizes cultural considerations but at the same time these considerations should not diminish a state’s human rights obligation.

Due to change, inconsistency and time, human rights cannot be immediately or effectively implemented in all societies, given their vastly different conditions. No one imagines that human rights will be fully protected in societies that are ravaged by violent conflict or warfare, where political power is so unevenly distributed that the ruling forces can crush any opposition or where people are segregated by class or cultural taboos. However, to acknowledge that the prospects for effective implementation of human rights differ according to circumstances is not to legitimize violations under these unfavorable conditions, nor is it to deny the universal applicability or validity of human rights to all human beings no matter what circumstances they face.

In a world where market capitalism is triumphant, it is important to stress that human rights are universal. One of the key elements of capitalism is development and this development has always evolved in tune with the concept of human rights such as self determination advanced side by side with a consciousness of the need to improve the standards of living of people. Capitalism also comes with social deprivation and economic exploitation which cuts across rich and poor states. This exploitation can only be checked by rights that are universal. So we cannot exclude the poorest of the poor from the universality of the rich.

It is essential to recognize that universality does not presuppose uniformity. To assert the universality of human rights is not to suggest that our views of human rights transcend all possible philosophical, cultural, or religious differences or represent a magical aggregation of the world's ethical and philosophical systems. Rather, it is enough that they do not fundamentally contradict the ideals and aspirations of any society, and that they reflect our common universal humanity, from which no human being must be excluded.

Human Rights represent a broader consensus on human dignity and not a single culture of tradition. Universal human rights are established by international covenants on human rights which address numerous concerns such as racial discrimination, rights of children, minorities and religious tolerance, genocide and torture. By this, the interests of the diverse cultures are addressed. This is done by an assembly of almost all states in the international community under he UN General Assembly which is authorized to address the protection and promotion of human rights and this is, to all intents and purposes, an international consensus on human rights.
All human beings are entitled to human rights regardless of color, race, sex, language religion, social origin or birth. This means that everyone is entitled to them without discrimination. Therefore, denying one human rights on grounds of cultural or religious differences is discrimination. Human rights are birthrights of any human being, so dismissing them because of culture is a violation of rights.

Human rights are a modern achievement and new to all cultures and thus they should not be looked at as representative of particular individuals or culture. They reflect dynamic and coordinated efforts of the international community to achieve and advance a common standard and international system of law to protect human dignity.
Proponents of Cultural relativism argue that traditional culture is sufficient to protect human dignity such as the traditional protection to life, liberty and security, and thus universal human rights are unnecessary. However, if traditional culture does effectively provide this protection, then human rights pose no threat to traditional culture. Therefore, the traditional culture can absorb and apply human rights instead of dismissing them. We should thus use traditional cultural values to reinforce the application and relevance of universal human rights instead of limiting human rights to suit a given culture. This would help particular cultures to recognize cultural integrity and diversity without compromising the universal standard of human rights.
Given the numerous hazards to human dignity caused by modern markets and states, human rights should be universal. The political power of traditional rulers usually was substantially limited by customs and laws that were entirely dependent on human rights. The relative technological and administrative weakness of traditional political institutions further restrained the abuses of power. In such a world, inalienable entitlements of individuals held against the state and society might plausibly be held to be superfluous because dignity was guaranteed by alternative mechanisms. However such a world today exists only in a relatively small number of isolated areas. The modern state even in the third world has been freed from customs. It thus represents a serious threat to basic human dignity. In such circumstances human rights seem necessary rather than optional. Radical or unrestricted relativism is thus inappropriate, implying that unversalsim is important.

In conclusion, human rights must be universal because there is an underlying human unity which entitles all individuals, regardless of their cultural or regional antecedents, to certain basic minimal rights which are inherent.


Donell, Jack. Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice. London: Cornel University Press, 2003.
Turner, Terence. Universal Human rights Versus Cultural Relativity. Journal of Anthropological Research; University of New Mexico.
Messer, Ellen. Pluralist Approaches to Human rights. Journal of Anthropogical Research.
Morgan, Lewis. Counselors at Law, 2000 One Logan Square, Philadephia.
Zechester Elizabeth. In the Name of Culture:cultural Relativism and the Abuse of an individual. Journal of Anthropogical Research.
Published: 2009-11-07
Author: nyombi sam -

About the author or the publisher
Name :nyombi mwebaza Samson
Tribe: muganda
Nationality: Ugandan
Religion: Protestant
Schools Attended
I had my primary school from Makonzi boarding primary school. Then I went to
Ndejje senior secondary school for my ordinary level from 2001 to 2005
There after I attended my advanced level from st mary’s boarding school kitende in 2006 to 2007
In 2008 I joined makerere university


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