The Landmarks in the Human Rights Theory in Historical Context: A Synoptic View. Conrad John Masabo Introduction Human rights (HRs) campaigns, debates and concerns have and are dominating the international and local forum and sphere of interests and “human rights talk has gained increasing influence in the international relations of the global south, especially in debates about emancipatory potential for people at the grassroots to influence development projects and for emerging domestic civil societies.1 In fact, “one of the significant areas under discussion in our today’s world is the issue of human rights.2 But the fact is: it is only of the recent that the language or phrase human right have come to mean something that we did not use or refer it to. In that regard, it is argued then, that ideas synonymous to the phrase human rights is not new at all, but started longer before being written down in international documents such as The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHRs) and national constitutions such as The Constitutions of the United Republic of Tanzania [CURT]. People from time to time have revealed their concern for other people through their commitment to principles of prosperity; justice and caring for others through the cultural practices and tradition. Commenting on the origin and the foundation of human rights, Hellsten and Lwaitama in 2004 contended as follows: Human rights, however, are not types of entity that happens to be there for people to claim. Rather they had to be invented and grounded on various philosophical, theological and political theories and enforced by various international conventions and agreements as well as by national and regulations.3
It is now evident that the phrase or “the language of universal human rights is arguably the only shared value system which we have in the modern world for discussing questions of justice.”4 In that regard the questions clicking right away to the mind of those sharing this view are: “What makes basic foundation of human rights? Are all human rights claims bona fide and substantial?5 Answering these questions serves as the take off point for providing the basis for the theory of human rights and thus is “an indisputable stand point locating a fundamental basis which
MASABO, Conrad John is a masters student at the Pan African University Institute for Governance, Humanities and Social Sciences (PAU-GHSS), studying for an MSc in Governance and Regional Integration. He is a teaching assistant at the Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE) a constituent college of the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. His research interests are in African Affair ranging to African Peace and Conflict, History, Politics, Gender and Development. He can be reached by the following email:[email protected] 1
. http://afraf.oxfordjournal.org/cgi/pdf_extract/105/420/488 (Accessed on December 31,
2009). . Michael Sia Tesha, “Whether Human Rights Claims Are Genuine: In Perspective of the Pacem in Terris” in Africa Tomorrow 11/1 (June 2009), 67-80; 67. 3 . Sirkku K. Hellsten and Azaveli F. Lwaitama, Civic Ethics Handbook: Ethics and Reflective Skills for Democracy (Dar es Salaam: Oxford University Press, 2004), 29. 4 . Tina Beattie. Review of The Challenge of Human rights: Origin, Development, and Significance by Jack Mahoney (Malden, Oxford, Carlton: Blackwell Publishing, 2007) and review of Christ and Human Rights: Transformative Engagement (Aldershot UK and Burlington VT: Ashgate, 2006) http://tina.beattie.googlepages/Tablet_mahoney_newlands.pdf (Accessed on December 31, 2009). 5 . Tesha, Whether Human Rights Claims Are Genuine … 67. 2
provides an authentic and steadfast explanation.”6Today, “human rights are integral to modern life and the importance of upholding them is a key concern to many governments, NGOs and charities around the world.”7 In this essay we are going to present a historical development of human...
...HRV1601: HumanRights, Values and Social Transformation
Semester 01/ Assignment 01
The Historical Background and Development of HumanRights
Table of Contents
2) The Development of HumanRights
3) Historical Documents of HumanRights
3.1) The English Bill of Rights (1689)
3.2) The American War of Independence (1775-1783)
4) Developing and Maintaining a HumanRights Culture in South Africa
5) The South African Constitution
6) The South African Bill of Rights
A right is an inherent, irrevocable entitlement held by all human beings from the moment of birth. According to Ndungane (as stated in Slater 2010:19), “A humanright is a right that a human person has simply by virtue of being a human person, irrespective of his or her social status, cultural accomplishments, moral merits, religious beliefs, class membership or cultural relationships”. Basic humanrights are not earned or deserved, and should not be considered a privilege, but an imperative implement for the well-being and...
...Paper 1: HumanRightsTheory
In this paper, I will make a number of arguments against the humanright to social and economic welfare. In particular, I will examine Henry Shue's defense of subsistence and illustrate why I find his reasoning ineffective. The first point I will make in this paper is that socio-economic welfare rights cannot be humanrights because they are not universal. Thereafter, I will argue against two thoughts proposed by Henry Shue in Basic Rights: Subsistence, Affluence and U.S. Foreign Policy. I will first argue, in direct contradiction to Shue, that humanrights are only negative, and that subsistence rights are inherently positive; therefore subsistence rights cannot be humanrights. Finally, I will argue the idea that socio-economic welfare programs are not practical with respect to the scarcity of resources.
One argument against the existence of social and economic welfare rights is that they do not apply to all people universally. In order for a right to be a humanright, it must apply to all persons, with no exception for age, color or social standing. How then, can welfare rights be universal when they only benefit a certain class of individuals?...
...Are humanrights innate and universal?
Post WWII on the 10 December 1948, the Universal Declaration of HumanRights (UDHR) was espoused by the General Assembly of the United Nations in order to agree on the notion that such atrocities that occurred throughout the Great War and the Second World War would not ever be reciprocated. The document that was drawn up in less than two years by the UN and Western states, and although ambitious it would guarantee a premise for life and living for every individual all over the world. The UDHR are founded on nobility, equality and reverence, and are said to be aimed at all cultures and religions within the West and East of the globe. However there is great discrepancy regarding the justification and practicality of humanrights all over the world due to political, economic and cultural differences and limitations. Universal means that ‘something’ affects, applies or is completed by everyone all over the world – there is no distinctive bias shown and equal policies are applied. Innate, in relation to humanrights, means that people are given natural rights purely based on the fact that he/she is human and alive. Therefore, are humanrights universal and innate or is the Universal Declaration of Human...
...Utilitarian Theory and HumanRights
Utilitarianism can be defined as a moral theory by which the public welfare of a community is dependent on the “sum welfare of individuals, which is measured in units of pleasure and/or pain”, requiring governments to make decisions based on the “largest sum of pleasure” (Postema, 2006). However Bentham argued that "every individual in the country tells for one, no individual for more than one", meaning that the weight of an individual’s happiness should always remain equivalent to that of another’s happiness regardless of personal status (Postema, 2006). Using this moral theory as a basis, Bentham asserted that the ultimate goal of government and all of morality was the advancement of public welfare (Postema, 2006). This theory of political morality consisted of four components: communal consequentialism, social welfarism, individual welfarism, and compositionalism. The first component, communal consequentialism, describes morality as being the basis of promoting the public welfare of the community. Social welfarism is understood as the concerns of the community, based on the “good of the community” or it’s well-being as a whole. Individual welfarism argues that all other moral concerns must be based on the “welfare of individuals”. Lastly, compositionalism ties social welfarism to individual welfarism, so that the welfare of the community...
...Origins of HumanRights
The emergence of rights in political thought is generally regarded as relatively recent, though any historical study of rights reveals how indeterminate the philosophical charting of the evolution of rights has been. Humanrights are considered the offspring of natural rights, which themselves evolved from the concept of natural law. Natural law, which has played a dominant role in Western political theory for centuries, is that standard of higher-order morality against which all other laws are adjudged. To contest the injustice of human-made law, one was to appeal to the greater authority of God or natural law.
Eventually this concept of natural law evolved into natural rights; this change reflected a shift in emphasis from society to the individual. Whereas natural law provided a basis for curbing excessive state power over society, natural rights gave individuals the ability to press claims against the government The modern conception of rights can be traced back to Enlightenment political philosophy and the movement, primarily in England, France, and the United States, to establish limited forms of representative government that would respect the freedom of individual citizens.
John Locke, in his Second Treatise on Government (1690), described a 'state...
...The concept of Universal HumanRights is a fairly new conception in human history. Rights are not the same thing as social or cultural norms, which can be used to oppress minority interest and be fundamentally unfair to individuals. The beginnings of this concept can be traced back to the Enlightenment Era of the mid 17th through the 18th century. The formal international consensus of this idea did not take effect until after World War II, when the United Nations (U.N.) adapted the Universal Declaration of HumanRights (UDHR) on December 10, 1948 establishing an international standard of humanrights. Although the majority of member nations of the U.N. agreed on this resolution, there where nations that argued against it. Thus the question still persist today, Are humanrights universal? I believe that they are.
Humans use morals and ethics to determine “right” from “wrong” on an individual as well as a cultural basis. An individual belief of right and wrong is derived from life long experiences; and influenced by culture, religion, parents, schools, relationships, etc. Cultural beliefs of right and wrong are a consensus of those beliefs in a nation or region, which can, and do vary widely between different cultures. These concepts also vary over time...
...Humanrights are universal, indivisible and interdependent. Humanrights are what make us human. When we speak of the right to life, or development, or to dissent and diversity, we are speaking of tolerance. Tolerance will ensure all freedoms. Without it, we can be certain of none.
<br>The raging ethnic cleansing in Kosovo is an example of intolerance. The Serbians will not tolerate the Albanians at any cost. They are forcing them from their homes, turning the streets into killing fields. This civil war seems unstoppable because of the intolerance of one race against another. No respect for individual rights, basic humanrights.
<br>Another example is right in our own back yard. I am speaking of hate crimes which plague our society. They are no different today than centuries ago when slavery was allowed. One race against another. One religion against another, it is all the same. Hate is the opposite of tolerance. We can only live together through an expression of tolerance of the differences each of us brings into this world. We should embrace the differences and share the differences. For this is how we learn, through each others' differences. Tolerance in all cultures is the basis of peace and progress.
<br>Our country was founded on the basic idea that all man and women are created equal with liberty and justice for...
...The Creation of the
Universal Declaration of HumanRights
Though humanrights as a whole (or for most of history, the idea of humanrights) have been present since the beginnings of civilization, its prevalence as a “normal” and “obvious” component of international relations did not emerge until much recently, with the ratification of the Universal Declaration of HumanRights (UDHR) in 1948. The Universal Declaration of HumanRights was created by the United Nations in order for all people in all nations to recognize each individual’s humanity, and the equal rights that are given to them on the basis of that humanity. As the UDHR’s preamble articulates, the Document aims for the “recognition of inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family”, grounded by the “foundation of freedom, justice, and peace”. 1 In other words, no human is excluded from possession of humanrights; regardless of age, sex, gender, ethnicity, religion, or class, so long as one is a member of the human race, they are inherently entitled to the rights listed in the UDHR.
Today, the UDHR, legitimized by the United Nations in 1948, is widely regarded as one of the most important documents of the twentieth...