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Published: Fri, 02 Feb 2018
The universal declaration of human rights
In 1948 the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This for the first time formally outlined what human rights were. The concept of Human rights usually refer to those rights that society has agreed to be fundamental to people everywhere, such as the right to life, the right to live without oppression, and the right to equal freedom of opportunity, this came into to force after some of the worst events following the Second World War. Since then many institutes have been formed to protect the rights of individuals. The other institutes which are also in place are, the European Union was originally the EEC which was formed in 1957 and NATO an organisation to protect international community. All these institutes work together to make sure that individuals are treated equally without any discrimination, however this concept does not always work in some countries as they have different believes and values.
The human race originated exists due to our filters created by our religious and cultural backgrounds from our ancestors and then to our parents who then pass it down to us. However the question I ask myself is whether there can be any universality to human rights given the differences in culture and religion, for example, the Muslin believe that all their human rights are stated in the Quran and they have a duty to god not to obey the rules stated in them. However, the Christians also believe that the rules governing morality are laid down in the Bible and no one can challenge the rule set out by God. These two religion honour tradition, support their family and are not hedonistic*, whereas with human rights believe that we all have certain rights which we must honour for the benefit of others. The Declaration of Human Rights gives rights to people everywhere whether or not their government recognise them. Whereas Christianity and Islam can only be claimed to be universal if everyone in the world follows that faith. Value plays a big part in their culture and they think without them there would be no expressed believes. However, one can say that human rights are culturally relative, and that the Universal Convention on Human Rights amounts to an imposition of Western values on other societies.
In Some parts of the world men still treat women differently and this should not be the case now days as we have human rights for women and they should be treated equally to men as to Article 2 in the UDHR states that everyone is entitled to all the concept of human rights and everybody should be treated the same irrespective of gender culture and religion. The declaration is not a law, so therefore, in some cases has had very little real impact on infringements to any of the rights outlined in it, in China there still is limited freedom of speech as the Governments has poor human rights records and do not agree with the UN’s attempts to promote human rights.
The Asian countries joined the UDHR in 1993 which is called the Bangkok Governmental Declaration and most of the countries who signed up come from very different background, religion, and culture and have different values. China is one of the Asian countries who are set in their own ways and have their own approach to what Human right ought to be. They believe that the community comes before individual rights and they take it seriously when somebody interferes with their rights. They also like a quiet life and perceive the western world as being a bad influence on their society. The UDHR’s emphasis on individual rights rather than responsibilities to the community which makes it unsuited for countries such as Asia.
Many of the Islamic countries have joined together to create a declaration of human rights such as The Cairo Declaration which states that all rights are derived from God and that “no one as a matter of principle has the right to suspend them in whole or in part or violate or ignore them in as much as they are binding divine commandments”*. This would suggest that Islam do not have any power which divides them from religion and the state, i feel that this concept of the Cairo Declaration might be a conflict with human rights as it contradicts the rights of an individual. For instance, women in Islam are often exploited and deprived of their rights in many ways, however this can be attributed to the tradition and cultural differences. Despite the influence by the western world the Islamic Society is still rather conservative and even till today, they are unable to completely abandon the concept of women being the weaker sex and they still treat women as housewives or mothers and are unable to mix fully in the public domain. Although The Cairo Declaration states that all men are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities, without any discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, language, sex, religious belief, political affiliation, social status or other considerations. Another aspect of Islam which also clashes with human rights for women is, ‘Honour killings’ this is where a family member murders a girl or women who they believe to have dishonest the family in such a way that they would rather have them murdered then them bring shame upon the family. This type of crime is committed all round the in some cases where a man catches his wife or a close female relative in the act of adultery and kills her, he is excused from punishment. If the situation only suggests illegal sex, he’s entitled to a reduced sentence. In such cases, jail terms range from a few months to a few years*. Own wor d.This is a terrible crime and the people who are involved in committing such a crime should be punished for life and in some cases the mothers are aware that girl or women is to be killed due to saving honour of the family, however, the mother cannot do anything as she lives in a domineering community and has no freedom of speech herself. These aspects clearly clash with the Western notion of human rights as all the rights are said to be derived from God. It seems that all round the world women’s rights are violated, in Africa men and women have different roles in society and marriage is seen to be a duty and people have no choice in the matter. Being a housewife and mother is the most important role for women in Africa. However, women have a high status in African society due to the status of motherhood and being mothers to their sons, nevertheless, i do not think that women should be given one status in life and should have equality to men as they are capable of doing much more if they were given the opportunity to choose what they want to do as they can still have a career and still be a good mother and wife. However in most of the non-western countries women are seen to be unimportant and many men still believe they are superior to them and in some countries they think they own them. However, it will take years to change people’s attitudes and approach towards women and the only way to do this would be to raise awareness educating boys and men to view women as equal to them. If this can be achieved all round the world we can see a move towards universality of human rights and then the correct steps can be taken to protect women’s human rights but as it stand now Human rights do not fit in with non-western culture or religion.
Furthermore, it is impossible to change the whole world in thinking the same way as everybody else does given the differences in culture and religion. The human rights Declaration says men and women should be treated equally but I do not feel that they are and it still seems as if men still dominate the world, in Islam and in some African countries men are allowed to have more than one wife and if the concept of universal human rights existed then women would be permitted to have more than one husband. However, this is not the case in the non -Weston countries where women are only allowed to marry once. This is called polygamy and is rooted deeply from cultural and religious beliefs. Polygamy is not permitted in the Weston world and could be seen as a crime and would go against what the Bible says that ‘I shall not commit adultery’.
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