Book Report: Human Rights Donnelly, J. ). The Relative

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Human Rights

Donnelly, J. (2007). The Relative Universality of Human Rights. Human Rights Quarterly, Volume 29, Number 2, May 2007, pp. 281-306.

Human rights are only relatively universal, claims Donnelly (2007). The author distinguishes between substantive and conceptual universality. Substantively universal human rights can be defined as specific rights such as those recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Human Rights Covenants. Conceptually universal human rights are more abstract. If human rights are necessarily "equal" and also "inalienable," then human rights are universal. However, universal human rights are not specific or practical in application.

The author raises important issues about the normalization of human rights and the increasing and perpetual pressure upon all cultures, nations, and individuals to support their implementation. Ethical conundrums are raised when one culture attempts to impose its set of norms upon another, as is the case with Europe or the United States pressuring African nations or China. Donnelly (2007) concludes that rights are relative because residents of nations with a poor track record of human rights do not enjoy automatic access to or recognition of those rights.

The Donnelly (2007) article addresses cultural relativism and ethical relativism, which are important topics for debate in the study of human rights. Where do we draw the line between cultural sensitivity and human rights: at female genital mutilation? What about the burka? The conflict between relativism and universality underlies legal, political, and policy problems. At what point does it become an infringement on human rights to impose one set of cultural values on another society?

Klug, H. (2005). Transnational human rights: exploring the persistence and globalization of human rights. Annu. Rev. Law Soc. Sci. 2005. 1:85 -- 103.

Beginning with the example of human rights violations perpetrated by the United States during the War in Iraq, Klug (2005) calls for a transnational vision of human rights. In particular, the author is concerned with the intersection of law and society in the field of human rights. The formation of transnational human rights doctrines at first depended on Western hegemony and the imposition of Western-led legal coalitions on the non-Western world. In a post-colonial world, it is important to fuse national sovereignty with individual human liberties. Human rights are, as Klug (2005) points out, often expressed via a struggle against colonial or other forms of social oppression.

Klug (2005) uses gap studies as one approach to the human rights argument. Gap studies refer to the proven rift between human rights in theory and human rights in practice, especially with regards to nations like the United States. On the one hand, a set of legal vehicles is in place to police the world. On the other hand, the police often violate the very rights they… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Human Rights Donnelly, J. ). The Relative.  (2010, November 4).  Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/human-rights-donnelly-j-2007-relative/165649

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"Human Rights Donnelly, J. ). The Relative."  Essaytown.com.  November 4, 2010.  Accessed July 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/human-rights-donnelly-j-2007-relative/165649.