Universal Human Rights? Essay examples

Universal Human Rights? Essay examples

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Throughout the years, the People’s Republic of China (hereinafter, the PRC) has remained notorious for its explicit defiance of international human right norms. These norms, codified in the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (hereinafter, the UDHR), define human rights to be “inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” (The Universal Declaration). While this declaration seeks to cement a set of universal human rights in the international community, it fails to take into account the idea of cultural relativism and its effects on different cultural perspectives of human values. For the purpose of this essay the UDHR will be used to explicitly state instances where China has defied individual rights within the UDHR, while the West has remained compliant. This contrast of cultural relativism is supported by scholar Jack Donnelly’s idea that “different civilizations or societies have different conceptions of human well-being. Hence they have a different attitude toward human rights” (67). This is further supported by scholars Adamantia Pollis and Peter Schwab’s view that the UNHR can be seen as an ethnocentric document based on Western ideals of democracy and libertarian values. They state it is “based on the notion of atomized individuals possessed of certain inalienable rights in nature” (Pollis, Schwab 8). The idea that a code of universal human rights primarily influenced by a Western school of thought may be readily applicable to China and other Asian nations is a naïve one. It may be argued that this new standard for universal human rights within a global society operates under the concept of “Coca-Colonization” (Huntington 28). Many in the West believe that regi...


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...China." Georgetown Journal of International Affairs 7.2 (2006): 111-20. Hein Online. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.
"Human Rights Reports - China." U.S. Department of State, 2010. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.
Huntington, Samuel P. "The West Unique, Not Universal." Foreign Affairs 75.6 (1996): 28-46. JSTOR. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.
Preis, Ann-Belinda S. "Human Rights as Cultural Practice: An Anthropological Critique." Human Rights Quarterly 18.2 (1996): 286-315. Project MUSE. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.
Schwab, Peter, and Adamantia Pollis. Human Rights: Cultural and Ideological Perspectives. Praeger, 1979. Print.
Thompson, Kenneth W., and Asmarom Legesse. "Human Rights in African Political Culture." The Moral Imperatives of Human Rights: A World Survey. Lanham: University of America, 1980. 123-24. Print.
"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948." United Nations. Web. 19 Nov. 2011.

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