Universality or relativity? That is one of the vital discussions in the debate of the concepts of human rights. In Jack Donnelly’s article The Relative Universality of Human Rights，he admitted that “universal human rights, properly understood, leave considerable space for national, regional, cultural particularity and other forms of diversity and relativity.” But he also noted that the relative universality is as a form of universalism. Those words showed that Donnelly endorsed the relativity of human rights in order to strengthen the idea of universality. On the other hand, Michael Goodhart disagreed with Donnelly’s theory. He thought that “Donnelly obscures the bases of human rights’ legitimacy”. In his perspective, scholars should put their efforts on the inclusiveness, uniformity, generality of the human rights other than the questions about universality. These two scholars try to prove that human rights are universal (in some ways). However, overemphasizing the universality of international human rights might provide a reason for some countries to start unjustified human rights intervention activities towards others. This might be the reason why Reza Afshari said that “the universalism may become problematic when Western academics observe its problematic arrival in the lands of the ＇Other＇ and advise each other on cultural sensitivity, or modesty.”
Are human rights universal? Goodhart’s asserted that “if human rights are based on a single transhistorical foundation or objectively correct moral code, then they must be legitimate in all social and cultural contexts.” Donnelly also implied that “they are equal rights, because we either are or are not human beings, equally.” These ...
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... society. In this society, there is more than one ideology about human rights, which means that the government’s policies can’t be the representative of the whole society. Thus, from a different point of view, acknowledging the specialty of human rights can prevent the central government from the authoritarianism.
In sum, every country has their own history, and every country stands on the different stages of the political and economic stairs. Because of the cultural diversity, international legal universality only reaches the natural rights of human beings. Instead of building an international binding legal system, the mutual understanding and tolerance might be a better way to promote human rights movements in the future. As Afshari said: “those who seek to enforce human rights should get a clear picture of the victims, their claims and those who deny the rights.”
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