Human Rights Discussions

Here are links and discussions relating to human rights from the perspective of the human rights movement:

  • University of Minnesota Human Rights Library is a good place to start
  • Yahoo is a useful source of human rights news.
  • The Historical Significance of the Universal Declaration by Asbjorn Eide. An historical and conceptual discussion of the growth of human rights theory, by a supporter, that is able quite plausibly to present that growth as a matter of the internal development of a specific Western tradition that now claims the right to universal dominance regardless of local views. Not at all helpful for the view that “human rights” as now understood correspond to a universal transcultural moral consensus.
  • Muslim Voices in the Human Rights Debate, by Heiner Bielefeldt, is a good example of how the human rights movement deals with religious and cultural differences. According to Dr. Bielefeldt, human rights are “(1) political and legal claims; (2) to equal freedom; (3) in a universal perspective” that trump all particular cultures and religions, which should therefore relativize themselves to its claims. He asserts that human rights are limited in scope, but it is hard to see the justification of that assertion given their status as abstract claims to equality that outrank all other moral considerations and are to be applied and enforced by law without reference to any particular culture, or therefore to common sense.
  • Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, on women’s rights as human rights, and the UDHR as a living document. She emphasizes the “universality and indivisibility of human rights,” including social, economic and cultural rights, the importance of international enforcement of the principle of state responsibility for private acts in private life, and the growth of “human rights” principles into universal laws that are binding regardless of consent. A good example of the overreaching ambition of the human rights movement from its foremost official spokesman.