Human Rights the Challenges of the Modern Essay

Pages: 6 (1986 words)  ·  Style: Harvard  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Government

Human Rights

The challenges of the modern world, intended by many to be a connected and collaborative place containing a sense of recognition of sameness as well as one of cultural difference are many. In this ideal world the differences of tradition, culture and nationalism often challenge the collaborative ideals of universal codes of conduct, but especially those associated with human rights. In the recent past independence of states has been seen as a sacred underlying code of existence only to be trampled upon when gross injustices, mostly against other states, warrant armed or unarmed conflict and even then to be answered with as much force as such a state could muster. The borders of a state were considered sacred territory, not to be crossed without very careful consideration of the reason and nature of such a transgression and only in cases where mitigating circumstances prevailed. (Fowler & Bunck, 1995, 54) Nationalism is often thought of as good when the nation in question upholds the standards of surrounding nations (or stakeholder nations) and bad when it does not, but it was not trampled upon, at least ideologically unless it was seen as absolutely necessary to the well-being of the larger body. (Palais, 1998, 214)

Download full Download Microsoft Word File
paper NOW!
This restraint, often thought of as isolationist was transgressed for profit, during the colonial period and for faith during the crusades and many isolated times since then for varied reasons and as a result of the overlying message of such transgressions has been at least in name curtailed in the modern era. (Qureshi & Sells, 2003, 28) the current call of the international community is to transgress states' sovereignty when gross injustices of what is thought of as universal human rights occur, or at the very least this can be used as a good reason to challenge state sovereignty, in the modern era. In fact the idea of universal human rights is relatively new and requires a great deal of definitive work, in addition to support for inter-national accountability of transgressions. (Kamminga, 1992, 63)

In Forsythe's 2006 work on human rights and international relations he brings to the foreground an interesting series of questions regarding state sovereignty and universal human rights.

TOPIC: Essay on Human Rights the Challenges of the Modern Assignment

Is state sovereignty a good thing or a bad thing? Should the international community disregard claims to state sovereignty when gross violations of human rights are at issue? Is any subject essentially or totally within the sovereign domestic affairs of states? Is it not true that state power, state authority and citizen loyalty to the nation are still very strong in modern international relations? Is it not true that the nation state and state sovereignty will be with us for some time? But in what form?" (Forsythe, 2006, 26)

This work will attempt to systematically discuss the international relations theories and concepts that answer and/or at least debate this series of questions.

The Debate

The issue of state sovereignty is one that has come to the forefront of international relations frequently over the last fifty years, and even more so in the last twenty, when international and global interests in human rights issues and global economic connectivity have become essential to international reasoning and relationships. The question that Forsythe poses is of the universality of the old standard of statehood. He questions the essential nature of the sovereignty of states, especially with regard to its inherently good and/or bad nature. Yet, to complete a thought regarding state sovereignty one must include judgment not of the issue itself but of the nature of any given state, the nature of its laws and traditions and more importantly how it applies these standards, in practice. (Migdal 2001, 15-16)

Should the international community disregard claims to state sovereignty when gross violations of human rights are at issue?" (Forsythe, 2006, 26)

Some scholars contest that the very fact that a sovereign state exists is an implication that it will not only enforce but act upon ideals of universal human rights. (Popovski, 2004, 16) the universalism of human rights promises more than nation-state citizenship. Implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, it suggests not only the possibility of an international order, which a well-ordered state sovereignty system also promises, but a global community. But the enforcement of human rights has suffered from the lack of robust institutional underpinning. Modern state institutions have been among the most effective enforcers and enablers of citizenship rights (Tilly 1996), but even human rights accords rely on the very same states they call into question to enforce those accords. (Brysk & Shafir, 2004, 4-5)

It would therefore be clear that one could jump from the idea that a sovereign state exists to uphold universal human rights and that if a state calls itself sovereign but does not live by these standards than the international community has the right to curtail its sovereignty. If one is in disagreement with the idea that a state exists and earns sovereignty by upholding universal human rights then that individual would be likely to fall back on ideals of universal sovereignty of states rather than the right of any party to usurp the power of a sovereign state, no matter the application of its traditions and laws or actions outside those laws that violate universal ideals of human rights.

The norm of sovereign equality in international law is so resolutely canonical (1) that its precise meaning, origins, and justifications are rarely examined. (2) Whatever the general merits of the norm, its retention seems fairly open to question when one sovereign state appears supremely unequal among 191 sovereign states (3) in terms of military power. The value of the norm under this condition is particularly dubious from the supreme state's point-of-view. (Lee, 2004, 174)

Lastly, to discuss this issue one must have a sense of the nature of the term "universal human rights." Universal human rights is a concept that must be fully defined, yet flexible enough to allow for differences in laws, applications and practices of any given nation. "It was a historical fact that the human rights discourse arose in the West, but so did the discourse about state sovereignty. Just as the idea of state sovereignty had found broad acceptance in the non-western world, it was argued, so should the notion of human rights." (Forsythe, 2006, 49) the nature of universal human rights are often poorly defined and even harder to enforce, as there is no single entity with the ability to independently enforce such standards, without the aide of sovereign nations. As is realistic at the turn of the millennium the UN, upon the 50th year anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights is still actively pursuing the definition of such a notion and making it more enforceable. ("In Fiftieth Anniversary Year," 1999, 54)

From an international standpoint the demand for universal human rights and actions against states who are seen to have violated them the question then becomes what if anything is completely under the jurisdiction of the sovereign state alone. (Damrosch, 1989, 1) "Is any subject essentially or totally within the sovereign domestic affairs of states?" (Forsythe, 2006, 26) if one is to judge this question based on historical actions against sovereign nations then the issue is clearly that the state has the power to make and enforce laws, that fall within the guise of universal human rights and when it acts outside those set of standards nothing is sacred. It is also clear that the investment of enforcement (but especially physical border invasion) there must also be other reasons and fears associated with the actions and standards of the sovereign nation. In the modern world, it would seem that only in the case where invasion has some sort of potential positive outcome for those involved is there a vested interest in enforcement, beyond aiding those who might have been violated in some non-military fashion. (Hesford, 2004, 104)

It must then be said that Forsythe is correct in one of his closing thoughts on the debate over sovereignty and human rights. "Is it not true that state power, state authority and citizen loyalty to the nation are still very strong in modern international relations?" (Forsythe, 2006, 26) Nations still have relatively unchecked power to live within cultural norms that might not support universal human rights and individual citizens within nations are still expected to be loyal and true to the state authority. Additionally, state authority is still considered one of the strongest sentiments of international relations and standards, no matter the actions of the state. For the most part nations are left to their own devices with the exception of strategic issues that are compounded by them.

Discussing Forsythe's final question in his statement of the nature of the debate of balance between the sovereignty of the nation and the application of universal human rights is demonstrative of what the future will hold. Lessons from the most immediate past, regarding armed actions have often ended with the sentiment that aiding populations which have been violated is the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

Two Ordering Options:

Which Option Should I Choose?
1.  Download full paper (6 pages)Download Microsoft Word File

Download the perfectly formatted MS Word file!

- or -

2.  Write a NEW paper for me!✍🏻

We'll follow your exact instructions!
Chat with the writer 24/7.

Human Rights in Human Security Context Research Paper

Prostitution and of Human Rights Research Paper

Do Human Rights Following a Cultural Relativism Approach Depend on International Regimes for Their Implementation? Term Paper

International Protection of Human Rights Term Paper

Workplace Safety Human Rights Watch (Hrw) Recommendations Term Paper

View 200+ other related papers  >>

How to Cite "Human Rights the Challenges of the Modern" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Human Rights the Challenges of the Modern.  (2008, September 3).  Retrieved September 24, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Human Rights the Challenges of the Modern."  3 September 2008.  Web.  24 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Human Rights the Challenges of the Modern."  September 3, 2008.  Accessed September 24, 2021.