Jul 18, 2011

Human Rights and the cultural relativism: what path?

During the Workshop “Human Rights: a multicultural approach”, which took place on July 14th at Estaleiro Cultural Velha-a-Branca, at 21.45…the Red Cross Youth reflected on…

Considered a little bit more than what the government recommends, the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights of 1948 introduced a renewed language of the Human Rights. Adapted and proclaimed by the General Assembly in its resolution 217-A (III), on the 10th of December 1984, with 48 votes in favor, none against and 8 that restrained from voting from the part of South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland, Ukraine and the Soviet Union, this documented served as a starting point from the first to the series of activities, in and out the United Nations, with an objective to guarantee the application of the rights defined by it.
The objective of the Declaration was explicitly as the very preamble "to promote (...) the universal and effective respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms" and provide a public world that was founded on respect for human dignity. In fact, the Universal Declaration sought to reconstruct the value of the human, which was degraded by the horror committed during the 2nd World War that had given rise to serious abuses of human rights.

However, it remains that the Declaration which was suppose to be universal is seen throughout the international community as a legal means to achieve legitimacy by states. A major impediment to this is the controversy surrounding the question whether human rights can be universal or culturally relative.
Now, each culture has its own discourse on human rights that relates to the specifics of that culture. The relativistic theories suggest that the universal discourse of human rights and their values ​​follow exclusively the West, focusing on the centrality of the individual, the primacy of rights over duties and priority given to the conflict over the idea of ​​reconciliation. Therefore, West has left its mark, making it difficult to attempt to universalize the rights envisaged in the Declaration. Indeed, different cultures, different ways to see the individual and there is no single universal model.

For the proponents of universalism, the absence of a minimum standard applies to all living beings, causing a vacuum of anarchy and intellectually irresponsible, leaving room for violent practices of illegitimacy of human rights in favor of the cultural argument. In fact the Human Rights are universal because they speak about respect for all individuals and their condition as human beings. Indeed, the universalist thesis should not override the particularities of each culture, nor the relativist thesis set aside a common basis, an internationally recognized minimum standard, but must seek a flexibility that can be achieved through a speech inter-civilizations, leading to the multicultural conception about the human rights.
                                                                                                          Alina Carvalho

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