Argue for the universal validity of the concept of human rights

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  • 1. Running Head: UNIVERSAL VALIDITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS 1 How would you argue for the universal validity of the concept of Human Rights? Name Instructor’s Name Course Title Date
  • 2. UNIVERSAL VALIDITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS 2 How would you argue for the universal validity of the concept of Human Rights The enactment of Human rights national and international laws in the world set in afterthe establishment of Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.These statutes however,have been under criticism for their call for universal application1. Human rights are inherent andabsolute rights, which a person is entitled to by virtue of being human. For this reason, they areof universal application since; they are same for everyone in the whole world and form the globalmoral language2. They are entrenched in the natural laws, legal right documentaries of national,and international statutes, laws, international as well as local organizations, in both state and nonstate actors’’ strategies and actions. There is a continued debate over several aspects of humanrights including; their nature, content and meaning. Initially, the idea of Human rights was not a universal concept and was perceived to be aproduct of the European thought in the 17th and 18th Centuries3. The rights were expressedthrough religious systems of the world and through concepts such as natural Justice, whichstressed the importance of social responsibility. However, scholars came up to advance theconcept by shifting their focus to individual persons from group actions. This new approach ofnatural law was seen important to the welfare of the community through the manipulation ofgreat scholars of the time such as Locke and Hobbes.41 Thomas, F.M. "Are Human Rights Universal?" Foreign Affairs 80, no. 1 (2001): 191-204.2 Keith, S. "Human rights: the sixtieth anniversary."(2008)3 Zurbuchen, S. Universal Human Rights and the Claim to Recognition of Cultural Difference,(2009)4 Eric.N. "Do International Human Rights Treaties Improve Respect for Human Rights?"(2005) .TheJournal of Conflict Resolution.
  • 3. UNIVERSAL VALIDITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS 3 The concept spread into various realms among them politics, where questions arose as towhether and to what extent individuals could give up their natural rights to be governed byothers5. As a result, most states enacted laws pertaining political rights such as women voting inEurope. However, the greatest advancement in human rights knowledge occurred after WorldWar II6. This was the formulation and approval of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in1948. Since then, other several international Conventions, Covenants, Declarations and othertreaties have been established. The Universality of Human Rights Universality is the dominant characteristic associated with Human rights as they apply toall people in the world. All human beings are holders of human rights that protect their dignityregardless of their ethnicity, sex, religion, colour, morality, language, age, sex, ethnic or socialorigin, religion, language, nationality, age and independent of what they do, where they comefrom and where they live7. The concept of universality however, has some related concepts thatmake it more meaningful. Since, Human rights have been acknowledged globally, they are validand same everywhere and same for all persons. Every person has these rights and cannot bedenied these rights since they are egalitarian protecting the basic and essential elements ofhuman existence8. All Human rights are one and cannot be separated. For instance, Civil andpolitical rights cannot be detached from economic, social and cultural rights.5 Noelle.M. "Universal Human Rights in a World of Difference/Political Solidarity/Scales(2010)6 Larry, C. "a vision of a world made new: the universal declaration of human rights (2004)7 Keith, S. "A declaration of human responsibilities?." (2012)8 "The Universality of Human Rights under Examination" PR Newswire, Sep 06, 2010
  • 4. UNIVERSAL VALIDITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS 4 None of these rights takes precedence over the others and become legitimate throughabsolute justification by all states9. Human rights therefore, are perceived to be owned by eachindividual and each individual has control over their own rights. It is upon the individuals toeither give up the rights or not10. The next section looks at the Justifications that make Humanrights a universal application principle. The Validity of Human rights In the beginning, the concept of human rights was perceived to have been a Europeanconcept to carry on with its control over its former colonies. This however has been disapprovedby human rights advocates who have argued in support for the adoption of the concept in allstates explaining that the concept is inherently good11. In recent years, individuals and the societyat large have shifted their perceptions about the extent of the application of Human rightsconcepts. This has attracted many scholars and researchers to the field of Human Rights. As aresult, individuals have sought to understand the whole subject and determine its validity. Thefamiliarity about human rights has empowered individuals and provided solutions for the variouschallenges that people have been encountering in life and has fostered values of tolerance,equality and respect thereby reducing the anarchy seen in the world systems12. Putting humanrights ideas into practice has helped create an orderly society where human dignity is prioritised.9 Taylor, C., Conditions of an Unforced Consensus on Human Rights,(1999)10 Van, de Ven. "Human Rights as a Normative Basis for Stakeholder Legitimacy."(2005)11 Balfour, Ian, and Cadava, E. "The Claims of Human Rights." (2004) South Atlantic Quarterly 10312 Nico.S. "the UN human rights council: a new society of the committed or just old wine in new bottles?"Leiden journal of international law 20, no. 4 (2007): 809-823.
  • 5. UNIVERSAL VALIDITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS 5 Article one of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) takes humanity as thefocal point and illustrates the rationality, equality and the dignity that human beings posses.13.Sine people have a stable conscience and are rational; they are supposed to treat others as theywould expect to be treated. Advocates of Human Rights believe in respecting individuals, theirlife and property. The world is in chaotic state and it would be appropriate to develop controls todeter individuals from engaging in activities that may harm other human beings. Human beingsare important and their dignity must be protected from outside forces14. Human rights protectpeople and help people to grow by defining boundaries for action while also limiting the extentto which people can interfere with others lives. Human rights protect individual cultures from interference, which may result in the lossof their cultural identity. In addition, the freedom to worship also provides people an opportunityto practise their religion without interference15. Human rights create a state where all individualsare valued and respected by others regardless of their differences by setting boundaries at whichindividuals can enter into our realms. This peaceful co-existence creates a peaceful state whereindividual differences and talents are tapped for the benefit of the society. The enforcement of Human rights expressed in various documents and maxims, forbidsgovernments from choosing offensive actions in their bid to control people. As such, it has beenimportant in structuring democratic institutions. In such nations, the Human Rights of freedom ofchoice and conscience to elect leaders have been enforced through local statutes in addition to13 United Nations; Universal Declaration of Human Rights(1948)14 George.W. "Are human rights still universal?"(1995)15 Darren, H. "Universal Jurisdiction for Human Rights: From Legal Principle to Limited Reality." Global Governance 9.
  • 6. UNIVERSAL VALIDITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS 6other international statutes16. In addition to restricting government power, Human rights haveprovisions requiring the governments to provide for the well being of its people and ensuring thatpeople can exercise rights without interference. Rights in this case are important as they positionan individual in the society and highlight the important role of the society for the progress of theperson and the responsibilities of the person within the society. Human rights have also advanced international cooperation in solving internationalproblems revolving around economies, humanitarian character and politics among others17.Administrators have applied human right principles in advancing reverence for human rights andfreedoms for instance, during war periods. According to the Universal Declaration on HumanRights in its preamble stated that Human rights was a shared principle of success that all statesand individuals posses18. Before the development of the concept of Human Rights, it was difficult to develop anyinternational code of conduct to address the problems of the chaotic world. However, since theestablishment of the UDHR in 1948 and several other statutes, it has been possible to controlchaos that result in form of civil or ethnic wars, power competitions and economic challenges19.Human rights are international moral standards, which have helped define universally what mustbe appropriate for people to pursue in the world20. The validity of human Rights can also be linked to development as they influence eachother. First, the right that individuals’ posses to pursue their own life goals are inalienable and16 Eric, N. "Do International Human Rights Treaties Improve Respect for Human Rights?" The Journal ofConflict Resolution.17 Noelle.M. "Universal Human Rights in a World of Difference/Political Solidarity/Scales(2010)18 Universal Declaration of Human Rights19 Van, de Ven. "Human Rights as a Normative Basis for Stakeholder Legitimacy."(2005)20 20 Zurbuchen S.,Universal Human Rights and the Claim to Recognition of Cultural Difference,(2009)
  • 7. UNIVERSAL VALIDITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS 7secondly the right to create an enabling environment allows individuals to use their full potentialto achieve their life set goals and targets. The concept of Human Rights is all-encompassing21. Itgrants individuals autonomy by granting them liberty, respect and equality in life. Human Rights knowledge has been used to establish effective systems that dispensejustice in the society. For instance, in the UDHR, any one accused of a crime must be presumedinnocent until the person faces full trial in the court of law to determine if the individual isguilty22. It is imperative therefore, that people should seek knowledge in the field of humanrights, since with such knowledge it will be easy to promote justice and the well-being of society. Conclusion Those arguing against the universal application of human rights base their argument on the diversity that exists between cultures and hold that it cannot be possible to apply all human rights in all states in the same manner23. This argument does not hold, as each state is allowed to localise the concepts to fit their context. Therefore, nations and the international community must establish structures for proper application of Human rights.21 Balfour, Ian, and Cadava, E. "The Claims of Human Rights."(2004)South Atlantic Quarterly 103.22 United Nations (1948) Universal Declaration of Human Rights(1948)23 Taylor C., Conditions of an Unforced Consensus on Human Rights,(1999)
  • 8. UNIVERSAL VALIDITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS 8 BibliographyBalfour, Ian, and Cadava, E. "The Claims of Human Rights." South Atlantic Quarterly 103, no. 2/3 :( 2004); 277-296.Darren, H. "Universal Jurisdiction for Human Rights: From Legal Principle to Limited Reality." Global Governance 9, no. 3 (2003): 347-365.Eric, N. "Do International Human Rights Treaties Improve Respect for Human Rights?" The Journal of Conflict Resolution 49, no. 6 (2005): 925-953.George, W. "Are human rights still universal?" Commentary 99, no. 2 :( 1995); 41.Keith, S."A DECLARATION OF HUMAN RESPONSIBILITIES?" Contemporary Review 294, no. 1704: (2012); 46-53.Keith, S. "HUMAN RIGHTS: THE SIXTIETH ANNIVERSARY." Contemporary Review 290, no. 1691 (2008); 429-436.Larry, C. "A Vision of a World made New: THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN A TIME OF FEAR." Vital Speeches of the Day 70, no. 8 (Feb 01, 2004): 244-249.Nico, S "The UN Human Rights Council: A New Society of the Committed or just Old Wine in New Bottles?" Leiden Journal of International Law 20, no. 4 (2007): 809-823.
  • 9. UNIVERSAL VALIDITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS 9Noelle, M."Universal Human Rights in a World of Difference/Political Solidarity/Scales ofJustice: Reimagining Political Space in a Globalizing World." Signs: Journal of Women inCulture & Society 35, no. 4 (2010); 1024-1028.Taylor C., Conditions of an Unforced Consensus on Human Rights, in: Bauer J. R. /Bell D. A. (ed.), The East Asian Challenge for Human Rights, Cambridge (1999), 124-144"The Universality of Human Rights under Examination at the Forum of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe." PR Newswire, Sep 06, 2010.Thomas F.M. "Are Human Rights Universal?" Foreign Affairs 80, no. 1 (2001): 191-204.United Nations (1948) Universal Declaration of Human Rights; available at http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtmlVan, de Ven. "Human Rights as a Normative Basis for Stakeholder Legitimacy." Corporate Governance 5, no. 2 (2005): 48-59.Zurbuchen, S. Universal Human Rights and the Claim to Recognition of Cultural Difference, in: Sitter-Liver B. /Hiltbrunner T. (ed.), Universality: From Theory to Practice. An intercultural and interdisciplinary debate about facts, possibilities, lies and myths, Fribourg (2009), 259-290.
  • 10. UNIVERSAL VALIDITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS 10