Debate on whether human rights are universal or not has been going on since adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights more than six decades ago and is set to go on for as long as different schools of thought on the matter exist.
While on one hand there is a growing consensus that human rights are universal on the other exist critics who fiercely oppose the idea. Of the many questions posed by critics revolve around the world’s pluri-cultural and multipolarity nature and whether anything in such a situation can be really universal.
The only agreement reached so far by both sides is that human rights are the rights of the human in society. That’s why every state all over the world at one point observes if not all of them then at least some human rights.
Proponents of human rights argue that the concept’s universality rests in its non-discriminatory character- human rights are meant for every human being- rich and poor, white and black, men and women, young and old, leaders and followers, elites and illiterate, etc- and are all treated equally.
In her article ‘From Citizenship to Human Rights: The Stakes for Democracy’ Tambakaki notes that apart from playing a political role, human rights are in principal moral and legal rights. Like moral norms they refer to every creature that bears a human face while as legal norms they protect individual persons in a particular legal community (pp9).
For Habermas they (human rights) are rights of a legal nature, endowed with an extrapositive validity which he says is a projection of the universality of their scope and addressed equally to all human beings – citizens and non citizens of a certain state (Ferrara pp 396). We will come later on Harbemas’ last part of...
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... concern and where there are severe violations, intervene to protect the lives of the victims.
It is therefore no longer is it credible for a state to turn its back on international law, alleging a bias towards European values and influence. All that humankind now requires to bring about the elusive, but eternal, dream of perpetual peace is a global citizenship based on a strong commitment to principles of equity and democracy grounded in civil society.
The challenge that lies ahead probably is the need to work towards indigenization of human rights, and ensure their assertion within each country's traditions and history. The 1993 Vienna Convention on Human Rights speaks on the need to consider the importance of national and regional details as well as various cultural, historical and religious backgrounds when thinking about human rights.
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