Human Rights the Contemporaneous Society Evolves Thesis

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Human Rights

The contemporaneous society evolves at a rapid pace, forcing as such groups and individuals to adapt along. The fact that we need to implement changes ourselves to survive in the dynamic environment is already an indisputable fact. The nature of the implemented changes on the other hand is an issue worth analyzing. In other words, are the modifications in the individual's micro and macro environments for his benefit or in his detriment? By extrapolating these features then, one could identify the matter of human rights in the changing context of a globalizing earth. Otherwise put, does globalization have a positive or a negative aspect upon the practices of human rights?

Globalization is an unstoppable force affecting all features of the every day life. And it does not only mean that we can have a Big Mac while visiting Shanghai, but also that features of the political, economic and even social backgrounds are likely to change. A most relevant example in this sense is the mutating importance of human rights in the global context. The matter has been subjected to numerous debates along the past recent decades, but a clear conclusion accepted by a majority has yet to be formulated. The present briefing report aims to shad some light into the approaches taken relative to the effects of globalization. To achieve this, the problem discussed must be clearly identified. Then, the background of the issue must be succinctly presented. A more detailed analysis of the issues would follow, to finally round up with the conclusions drawn and the proposed recommendations.

3. Problem Definition

One of the most stringent issues of the twenty-first century has been the emergence of globalization operations. The buzzword actually refers to a series of modifications which occurred in the way business, economic, political, cultural, social, technological and even environmental actions are being handled. "Globalization reflects the 'stretching' of social, political and economic activities and practices across national frontiers with the consequence that events, decisions and actions in one continent impact upon communities and nations a continent away" (Evans, 1998). Globalization has often been assimilated with Americanization (Beck, Sznaider and Winter, 2004), or the processes implemented by the American corporations to territorially expand to other regions of the globe. But the United States have not only 'exported' their products, but also their way of being, their social behaviors and reactions.

Then, the other specification that must be made is the paper's relevance in the field of human rights. Recent studies seem to mix globalization with the treatment of society members. Therefore, the question that the briefing paper will try to answer relates to the impact globalization has upon the practice of human rights.

4. Background of the Issue

There is a wide variety of information on human rights, most of the sources agreeing that human rights refer to the protection of the individual within his community to ensure a life of dignity. Debates on human rights go as far as the French and American revolutions, but it was not until 1945 that the practices were globally integrated by a set of international laws. Aside the development of rules to which states must obey, the new legislation also suggested the idea that human rights were no longer a national matter, but a global one, implying consequently the enlarged jurisdiction. The effects of globalization upon human rights could also be understood from this perspective. Today, not long after the beginning of the twenty-first century, the human rights are well organized and recognized. "By the early twenty-first century more than 140 states had formally adhered to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the companion International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Some regional developments were even more impressive" (Forsythe, 2006).

Globalization as an international trend in most aspects of the every day life began to be more closely analyzed throughout the 1990s. The Human Rights Quarterly for instance dedicated large amounts of time and money from 1996 to 1999 in order to answer some questions related to globalization and human rights. The primary criteria on which the analyses were based were the foreign investments, representing globalization, and the civil and political rights, representing the human rights. Two theses were developed.

The first one identified foreign investments, and consequently globalization, as an "engine of development" (Lerner, 1958). The positive economic outcomes of globalization materialized in the creation of additional jobs, and the consequent increase in the population's living standards. In terms of human rights, the positive outcome meant the creation of an understanding, stable and tolerant environment. The second thesis found that globalization had in fact negative implications upon economy and societies. In this instance then, the results indicated that foreign investments were a means of undermining national development and consequently, developments in human rights (Howard-Hassmann, 2005).

5. Analysis of Issue

Whereas some sources indicate that the effects of globalization upon human rights depend on all political, economic, social, cultural, historical and technological backgrounds, others state that the final impact does not depend on any civil or political features within the country, but solely on its economic characteristics. Spar (1998) for instance forwards the type of production within the country and the features of the customer base as the main determinants of an impact upon human rights. Li and Reuveny (2000) then state that the economic forces are not even important, and that an impact upon the civil and human rights will be observable without any economic changes. In this instance, they argue that globalizing forces in the political, technological or social backgrounds are sufficient to trigger some modifications upon the national human rights regulations. Michael Goodhart analyzes the matter from a more political standpoint, assimilating the globalizing human rights with democracy, and stating that an internationalization of the civil rights is only possible in the context of an internationalized democratic context. "Democracy as human rights defines a political commitment to universal emancipation through securing the equal enjoyment of fundamental human rights for everyone" (Goodhart, 2005).

The matter of human rights in the context of a globalizing earth can be looked at from numerous standpoints, such as the breaking of the regulations across the globe or the international responses to the violations. Alison Brysk for instance points out that despite the globalizing trend in human rights, several violations still go on without attracting much interest from the global communities. The briefing paper however has a different and simpler purpose -- that of stating whether globalization has a beneficial or negative impact upon human rights.

The author of Globalization and Human Rights points out that the actual effect of globalization upon a country is given by the state's personal characteristics. In other terms, the degree and way in which globalization will affect the human rights within a country depend directly on the country's economic and political strength. Take for instance the countries in Latin America, Southeastern Asia or Russia, where the democratizing processes are relatively new, the state institutions are weak and the economic and political powers are "elite-controlled." These countries will respond to globalization by an even higher destabilization of the political, economic and social aspects of life, revealing higher levels of corruption, police abuse and crime rates (Brysk, 2002).

The highly developed countries, on the other hand, stand increased chances of embracing globalization as a positive force. In this instance, the effects that are likely to occur refer to a better protection of the individual, both native born and immigrant. Also, with the aid of the globalized technologies, the law representatives become better able to guard the citizens' safety and security (Crossette, 2000). Foremost, the globalizing technologies and social practices helped the individuals in less developed countries gain better access to information and get to know their rights better.

Dunne and Wheeler tend however to disagree with the beneficial effect of globalization upon the human rights, stating that, as a generally observed trend, globalization seems to negatively impact the strength of the globalized country. "Globalization is weakening state structures, especially in relation to their capacity to promote global public goods, their traditional function of enhancing the quality of life within the boundaries of the state, and their most recent role of assisting and protecting the vulnerable within their borders" (Dunne and Wheeler, 2002). This vision is somewhat shared by Michael Goodhart, who points out that however beneficial effects do exists, it is more likely that globalization will first reveal its negative implications. "Globalization deprives the people of many key decisions through ongoing shifts of legal, regulatory, and governance authority to "international governance organizations," and through corporations' growing ability to elude government control and regulation. The communitarian argument that such weakening should be resisted insofar as possible and that the rights of communities to collectively decide their futures be restored is, according to the author, unfeasible on empirical grounds" (Gandois, 2006).

Globalization, on its own this time, has often been accused of widening the income gap between the rich and the poor of the same country.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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