Are Human Rights Universal?

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The doctrine of human rights were created to protect every single human regardless of race, gender, sex, nationality, sexual orientation and other differences. It is based on human dignity and the belief that no one has the right to take this away from another human being. The doctrine states that every ‘man’ has inalienable rights of equality, but is this true? Are human rights universal? Whether human rights are universal has been debated for decades. There have been individuals and even countries that oppose the idea that human rights are for everybody. This argument shall be investigated in this essay, by: exploring definitions and history on human rights, debating on whether it is universal while providing examples and background information while supporting my hypothesis that human rights should be based on particular cultural values and finally drawing a conclusion. A general definition of human rights are that they are rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled to, simply because there human. It is the idea that ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’ The thought that human rights are universal emerges from the philosophical view that human rights are linked to the conservation of human dignity- that respect for individual dignity is needed regardless of the circumstance, leading to the notion that human rights are universal. The earliest form of human rights can be traced back to European history- the French Declaration on the Rights of Man and of Citizen which says that men are born free and equal in rights. The Declaration of Human Rights was drafted in 1948 to recognise the r... ... middle of paper ... ...s/gratis/Ibrahim-17-3.pdf> [Accessed 28 February 2011]. Magno, A., (2001) Human Rights in Times of Conflict: Humanitarian Intervention . Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, 2 (5). [online] Available from: [Accessed 2 March 2011] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Human Development Report (2000) Human Rights and Human Development (New York) p.19 [online] Available from: [Accessed 2 March 2011] Charney, E., (1999) Cultural Interpretation and Universal Human Rights: A Response to Daniel A. Bell. Political Theory. 27 (6), 84. [online] Available from: [Accessed 28 February 2011]
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