Friday, 9 December 2011

Human Rights; Human Wrongs

For a couple of days now I have wanted to explore a thought or two on the subject of human rights. Coinciding with the official UN Day that celebrates the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights I have a question that asks if the UDHR applies to all. Would it be right, given the tile, to describe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as truly universal?  

This is where perceptions matter on the intention of Human Rights matter. Perhaps in many traditional societies, the human rights movements associations with individualism don't always fit with the social importance placed on the collective (that is, families and communities etc.). Should we be surprised therefore, that in the heart of Africa and Asia, and across the Muslim world, public sensibilities mean that the interpretation of aspects of the UDHR often it lines up with 'western' social attitudes? This is perhaps why governments 'get away' with violations.

And what of those societies that supposedly espouse the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but that ignore the rules themselves? The UK's obsession with electronic surveillance and the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, for example, operate in a human rights 'grey area'. Both these are examples when, presumably, the 'collective' interest is put before the 'individual' interest.

Considering that many years have passed since 1948, and most the world still remains tied to cultures that reject individualism, can the notion of Universal Human Rights truly have universal support?

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