Human Rights Improve Around the World? Thesis

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¶ … Human Rights Improve Around the World?

As globalization continues to transform the world and increased media coverage means citizens are more aware of atrocities occurring a half a world away, human rights is destined to improve. Since early civilization, the issue of human rights has been at the forefront of the societal mind. Many religions had components dictating how others were to be treated. However, with this social consciousness of needing to treat others in an acceptable way also came exceptions to these rules, often in the form of cultures or classes contrary to the dominant one. Even in today's modern world, and despite the formation of international governing bodies such as the United Nations, human rights are still a significant issue in many countries. Yet, globalization has meant an ever-increasing mixture of cultures and minimization of State borders. This, coupled with an increased access to media from around the globe has meant that several conceptual perspectives, which once drove the imbalance in human rights in the past, are likely to become obsolete in the future.

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TOPIC: Thesis on Human Rights Improve Around the World? As Assignment

Concern regarding human rights is not something new. Ancient laws concerning human rights are found in a variety of civilizations. From 3100 -- 2850 BC, the first Pharoh of Egypt, Menes, implemented a code of conduct for his society. One thousand years later, the Code of Hammurabi is issued by the Babylonian king, based on a revelation from their god of justice, Shamash. Between the 18th and 15th century BC, the Five Books of Moses emerge and are the basis of the Jewish Faith. The Torah is centered on concern for the rights and welfare of others, with the Ten Commandments establishing a code of conduct for members of the Jewish community. The Upanishads, written between 800 and 500 BC, outline the Vedic belief system that an individual's actions have ongoing moral consequences ("Human rights timeline: From antiquity," n.d.). However, the first charter of human rights comes in the 6th century.

In the 6th century BC, Cyrus, the king of the Medes and Persians, is the first to issue a charter of human rights, with his Charter of Freedom of Mankind. During this same time K'ung Fu Tzu (also known as Confucius in the Western world) fathered the dominant political and moral philosophy in China, Confucianism. The highest principle in this philosophy, 'Jen', means 'to love all men'. Thousands of miles away, at the end of the 6th century through 44 BC, the Roman Republic develops a society with a representative government and judicial system and is based on values that feature community service and individual honor. In Athens, under the Pericles' leadership, Democracy flourishes as male citizens make laws based on the rule of the majority, from 479 to 431 BC ("Human rights timeline: From antiquity," n.d.). Yet, as most of the systems of human rights employed during this time frame, these rights were selectively applied . Slaves, women, etc. often did not receive the same rights.

In 300 BC, Hinduism's Four Vedas are formerly recorded. These teachings had been in place for centuries. King Asoka of India's reign from 262 to 232 BCE finds the ruler issuing several Edicts that emphasized kindness, goodness and generosity. Around 45 BCE, Cicero wrote his philosophical works on the subject of humanitas, emphasizing goodwill towards humanity ("Human rights timeline: From antiquity," n.d.). This tradition of rulers and religion continues into the modern era.

By 30 AD, Jesus of Nazareth is the central figure in Christianity and preaches to his followers to 'love thy neighbor as thyself'. In the 1st century, the sacred texts of Buddhism, the Tripitaka, is transferred into written tradition, centered on codes of conduct for followers to maintain a harmonious spiritual community. The teachings of Muhammad were first outlined in the Qur'an, in the 6th century, emphasizing both religious and racial tolerance, as well as equality and charity. Despite the preaching of tolerance in several of the larger world religions, at this time in history, it would not prevent one of the largest human rights violations. Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade in 1096, as a means of taking the Holy Land from the Seljuk Turks ("Human rights timeline: From antiquity," n.d.). The Crusades are an excellent example as to the limits that human rights had in each culture's communal mindset and despite the continuing modernization of society, human rights violations continued.

In the 1500s, the Conquistadors traveled to the New World, decimating Aztec and Inca civilizations. Pilgrims look down on Native American 'savages' and begin the displacement of these cultures. The centuries old slave trade continues to flourish around the globe and women, in most societies, are considered only one step above chattel. Yet, there are bright spots in these times of one-sided human rights. In 1648, the Treaty of Westphalia brings the Thirty Years' War to a conclusion and gives a boost to greater international religious tolerance. The Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, in Britain, guarantees those accused of a crime, a fair trial in a timely manner. In the 18th century, the Enlightenment spreads throughout Europe, bringing hope that reason will bring about better societies. Jean-Jacques Rousseau writes the Social Contract, in 1762, insisting that the 'general will' will reflect the common interests of all people, and that this general will is sacred and absolute ("Human rights timeline: From European," n.d.). As society progressed, great strides forward and steps backward continued to be made.

The 18th century saw the beginning of the abolition of slavery, in the United States, with Pennsylvania's 'Act for the General Abolition of Slavery'. In 1789, the French adopt the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. and, in 1791, the U.S. Bill of Rights is ratified. The Congress of Vienna, in 1814 and 1815, is the first time a concerted multi-national effort is made to protect human rights, with the proclamation of freedom of religion, civil and political rights, and the condemnation of the slave trade ("Human rights timeline: From the American," n.d.). Yet, where some segments of society were prospering under increasing rights, such as women in America, others were still being treated with utter disregard.

In 1830, in a piece of legislation that would forever haunt America, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act. The purpose of the Act was to free land for Americans to settle. In the process, 70,000 Native Americans were forced to relocate from their native lands. Forced to move further west, the 'Trail of Tears' began, named for the high death rate of Native Americans during this time of forced relocation. Twenty-seven years later, the Dred Scott v. Sanford case found the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that African-Americans cannot be citizens and as such were not entitled to the rights White Americans received ("Human rights timeline: From the Indian," n.d.). The twentieth century would see some of these wrongs put to rights, and more atrocities occurring.

The International Women Suffrage Alliance, the Central American Peace Conference, the National Alliance for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), were all early in the 20th century. Yet, from 1915 to 1917, the Ottoman Empire committed genocide against the Armenian people, killing a half a million. The Aboriginal Act, in 1918, found the Australian Parliament stripping the aboriginal people of their basic rights ("Human rights timeline: From the Indian," n.d.). In 1922, we see more international cooperation to help offset some of these continuing violations of human rights, with the formation of the International Federation of Human Rights League, comprised of 14 national human rights organizations. Finally, in 1945, the United Nations is established, with their Charter underscoring the principle of individual human rights ("Human rights timeline: From the Treaty," n.d.). Reviewing this history of human rights, several things become clear.

First, humans understand the need for certain inalienable rights. Since antiquity, this has been demonstrated. In contrast, humans have also been shown to have a tendency to devalue those who are different or those that have something they want to acquire, often dehumanizing the others in the process to justify their actions. However, sparks of decency continue to be found throughout time, and as the world becomes more globalized, more international cooperation is seen in the protection of human rights. From individual religious and State laws on rights to the formation of national and international bodies, this evolution is certainly only going to continue with continued globalization and instances of human rights violations will decrease, especially as international pressure continues to exert itself. This is facilitated by the global media via 24-hour news channels and the Internet, which means -- the world is watching.

How Different Conceptual Perspectives May Approach the Issue of Human Rights:

Depending on what international relations theory one is considering, the approach to human rights will vary greatly. In addition, given the swing of global support for human rights, some perspectives will likely be pushed to the wayside. Realism is one such example. Realism's primary focus is… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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