Universal Declaration of Human Rights

1614 Words7 Pages
From the beginnings with the Cyprus Cylinder to the establishment of the formal International Bill of Rights, the concept (and acceptance) of human rights have come a long way. In the long and varied history of the process, it has not only been ‘Western’ individuals that have advocated for a formal adoption of human rights. Gandhi, a young lawyer from India argued for and insisted upon the validation of rights for all human beings. Even so, criticisms surrounding the Bill of Rights have centred around the idea that human rights are a western concept, and one that has been imposed upon other nations. Summed up neatly, ‘a group of nations is seeking to redefine the content of the term human rights against the will of the Western states…this group sees the current definition as part of the ideological patrimony of Western civilization and argue that the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration reflect Western values and not their own.’ (Cerna 1994:740) To critically analyze this idea effectively, it is important to step back and determine the true intentions and the realities of the process used in creating the Bill of Rights. I argue that upon closer inspection it becomes evident that this idea is hardly defensible, because the very idea of Western as a concept is inherently flawed, because the reality is that cultures are themselves a product of many years of outside influence and this process was simply another manifestation of this natural evolution, and because the human rights process was as inclusive and as participatory as was possible at the time and to cry over spilt milk is simply futile. The idea of Western, as aforementioned, is central to most criticisms regarding the universality of the International Bill o... ... middle of paper ... ...In conclusion, while it can (and has been) be argued that the UDHR cannot be truly universal when there are states that refuse to accept them (not merely in name, but enough to ratify them) (Cerna 1994:751), a bigger picture view must be attained and grasped. As the saying goes, you can take the horse to water, but you cannot make them drink. This does not, however, mean that you do not provide the water, and that is what the UDHR has accomplished. Therefore, as can be seen through our examination of the ideas above, the criticisms of the universality of the international bill of rights, while plausible, lack legitimacy and validity in terms of the true issue at hand. It must be remembered that not all rights available across the world today were accepted in colonial times, or even fifty years ago; adoption will take time and in the interim there will be resistance.
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