Essay on The Global Human Rights System

Essay on The Global Human Rights System

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The human rights system has been created by both top-down and bottom-up dynamics, by the relationship between the global and the local. Discuss.

The global human rights system has undoubtably been produced and sustained by both top-down and bottom-up dynamics which operate on global and local scales. It is because of these polar hierarchic systems that human rights violations against individuals and groups at a local level can be recognised and understood globally and acted on consequently using the appropriate channels. Despite being beneficial in this way, both top-down and bottom-up approaches are also fundamentally flawed in some of the ways they spread information and enforce strategies for the protection of victims from human rights violations and seek retribution of perpetrators. This is an inauspicious but inevitable consequence of any scheme that attempts to universalise human experience and suffering as it occurs within infinite and dissimilar contexts and has a limitless range of meanings and outcomes(Messer, 1993, pp.228). The global human rights system has the quandary of deciding upon the human rights that ought to be universal, equal and not subject to cultural relativism across the exceptionally diverse cultural spectrum that exists in the world today(Gutman, 2001, pp.7). It is no wonder that it is regarded worldwide as a highly debated and controversial topic. The United Nations ban on female genital mutilation is a superb and extremely well known example of a practise that has been banned globally despite being an ancient religious and cultural tradition in thousands of societies around the world on account of it being a gross violation of human rights(UN Women, 2012). This ban being passed as international law ...

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...hey are respected. Indeed, it seems explicitly clear that both processes must be embraced as the answer to the international predicament of human rights.


Gutman. Amy (2001). 'Introduction' to Michael Ignatieff Human Rights: As Politics and Idolatory, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, pp. Vii-xxviii.

Hastrup, Kirsten (2003) 'Violence, suffering and human rights: anthropological reflections,' Anthropological Theory 3(3): 309-323

Ife, J (2009) Human Rights from Below: Achieving rights through community development, Frances Wade, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne.

Messer, Ellen (1993) 'Anthropology and Human Rights.' Annual Review of Anthropology 22: 221-49.

United Nations Ban Female Genital Mutilation, 20/12/12, Viewed 19th April, 2013, UN Women

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