What are Human Rights and where do they originate?

Published: 2019-11-11 08:30:00
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Human rights are defined as protections from states action towards humans that may interfere with their freedom of expression. For instance, a country might not allow freedom of speech but it must provide a platform where its citizens can express themselves. A lot of questions regarding the origin of human rights have been asked. There are two well-known schools of thoughts that comprises of theorist who shares a common idea regarding the origin of human rights. Natural law, the first school of thought argues that human rights are inherent in the individual and do not depend on a document or a state to legitimate them. Rather everyone is born with these rights. Positivism, the second school of thought argues that laws of human rights should not be based on the naturalistic assumptions. This philosophy argues that permission is a basic requirement for the establishment of human right norms. Furthermore, the rights always depend on the willingness of any given state to accept protecting them (Campbell et al. 2010).

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What issues prevent universal agreement on what constitutes human rights?

The universal agreement on what constitutes human rights has not been achieved due to the cold war that brought a rift between the US and the Soviet Union. The membership of the United Nation created new nations that had different ideas and concerns regarding human rights. Ever since the Second World War, a number of movements and promulgation of various human rights document emerged and this brought about lack of agreement on what constitutes human rights. Notably western countries such as the United States have paid more attention to individual rights such as a right to practice one religion as compared to Soviet unions. The west specifically criticizes the Soviet Union for oppressing religious and political freedom while emphasizing on cultural, economic and social rights. With such differences it not easy to reach a universal agreement regarding the constitution of human rights (Campbell et al. 2010).

Are human rights culturally specific or universal?

An existing debate has focused recently on whether human rights are universal or different depending upon the culture of the individual. There is an argument that west is advocating for universal rights and appears to be encouraging this globally. Relativist have argued that western countries are individualistic and put individuals first but not the entire society while coming up with human rights document. Western and non-western cultural norms are very different and hence western standard are not applicable to non-western countries. As such, it is not possible for human rights to be universal due to different cultural norms (Campbell et al. 2010).

How human rights are monitored and how are human rights treaties enforced?

Human rights are monitored through the use of various international organizations, for instance, the UNCHR that was formed to set human rights standard and monitor humans right globally. Notably regional organization such as European convention on human rights has been formed with rights human rights agendas around Europe. Non-Governmental organization has also played an essential role in promotion researching and monitoring of human rights. This organization has been formed in some countries in order to monitor how that state is abiding by its international human rights obligations. Lastly, individuals have also assisted in defending of human rights, for example, publicists and jurists do write and publish on the human right situation and report any violation. A number of human right treaties require the participation of member states hat prepare periodic reports regarding their compliance with the obligation of the treaty. The monitoring body that has been established as part of the treaty then receives these reports. After the evaluation of the reports, the final reports are provided that details the compliance of a nation to the treaty (Campbell et al. 2010).

One historical event where individuals have expressed their feelings about human right was during slave trade. African was sold to overseas to go and work in the white farms plantation. This was against human right as their right of movement and expression were oppressed during this period.

Reference

Campbell, P., MacKinnon,, A., & Stevens, C. (2010). An Introduction to Global studies (pp.

88-121). United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Publication.

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