Is the West Imposing Its Values on Developing Nations through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Is the West Imposing Its Values on Developing Nations through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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Human rights became a concept in the early 1900’s so to protect the rights of human beings worldwide and establish a more harmonious global society. This concept was embodied in international law for the first time half a century ago (Heuer & Schirmer, 1998), however the concept of universal human rights did not take consideration to the fact that most cultures do not follow identical morals to those of the west. Hence, these rights are certainly not universally-applied today, with oppression, torture and various atrocities committed in many parts of the world still (Lower, 2013). Advocates of cultural relativism argue that permitting international norms to override the dictates of culture and religion is a violation of state sovereignty (Musalo, 2014), so many cultures do not follow the human rights concept established by western societies. In fact, the director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies in 2006 expressed that “many Arabs perceive internationally recognized human rights as a western import and thus unsuitable for [their] societies” (quoted by Bahey El Din Hassan; IRIN, 2006). The concept of universal norms is one considered by western states, and so this idea of human rights is far from applicable in many other cultures. This essay will argue that although the concept of universal human rights would be beneficial for the entire globe, the concept as it stands today is fundamentally western orientated, and thus is a form of western cultural imperialism if imposed in a non-west state. This essay will begin by illustrating that the origin of the universal declaration of human rights is essentially western, and further highlighting several renowned human rights activist groups and NGO’s that are in danger of all...

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