Human Rights

On December tenth 1948 in the Palis de Chaillot in Paris, the United Nation's General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The document is made up of thirty articles which deal with a series of basic human rights and duties. It follows the premise that

" the declaration is a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the people of member states themselves and among the people of territories under their jurisdiction."[3]

However this is not always the case, infraction to the human rights code are all too often practiced, today as much as 50 years ago. War crimes in the former Yugoslavia, terrorist acts in the Gaza strip, Political prisoners in China, the disappercidos of Chile and Argentina, female genital mutilation in orthodox Muslim communities are all too common. However the message this document stands for is one for the universality of man and woman kind alike. It tells of such basic rights as freedom and life that are owed to every human being regardless of the language she speaks. They are inalienable in the fact that human rights have no boundary and are sovereign to no king or state. Shue seems to disagree with this, since in describing the comparative advantage theory of government he mentions that "each nation's own government (or other social institutions) are best able to care for the welfare of the people of that nation..."[6] This latest theory provides some backing for 'cultural soveirgnty', however it does so by demeaning the universality of human rights, and is therefore unacceptable with what I'm choosing as a moral standpoint.

As I mentioned human rights start with the basics (freedom, life) and develop further into the right of peaceful assembly and the right to education. "Perhaps the most obvious thing to be said about rights is that they are constitutive of the domain of entitlements. They help to define and serve to protect those things concerning which one can make a very special kind of claim - a claim of right. To claim or to acquire anything as a matter of right is crucially different from seeking or obtaining it as through grant or privilege, the receipt of a favor, or the presence of a permission. To have a right to something is, typically, to be entitled to receive or posses or enjoy it now, and to do so without securing the consent of another. As long as one has a right to anything, it is beyond the reach of another properly to withhold or deny it. In addition, to have a right is to be absolved from the obligation to weigh a variety of what would in other contexts be relevant considerations; it is to be entitled to the object of the right .... without anymore ado. To have a right to anything is, in short, to have a very strong moral or legal claim upon it. It is the strongest kind of claim that there is."[9 pp48]



Cultural Rights Against Individual Rights

As explained above human rights are of an essential nature for the benefit of man and woman kind alike. It is on the base of this necessity that I consider cultural rights as an attack against human rights. Cultural rights have been proposed as a mean to the object of cultural preservation. It is questionable weather the preservation of culture for the benefit of the individual is more valuable than that individual's claim to his/her natural rights. Once again the argument of the right to exit comes up. If an individual has the option to leave than no injustice is forced upon him or her. This philosophy is erroneous on multiple levels. For starters if something is essentially wrong, and any action to violate natural rights is, then there can be no rationalizing it . Second, if the value of culture is as deep as cultural activists say it is (this I don't intend to argue) then it is