Human Rights And The International Context

807 Words Aug 7th, 2014 4 Pages
Human rights and universality, two terms often considered synonymous with each other within the international system. Such broad conceptualisations however fail to consider the imbued assumptions that these terms carry with them. Redefining the limits of the term universal human rights Donnelly considers the several senses through which the universal, in human rights is better understood as consensus universality, rather than implied universality (2007, 281). Fundamentally such political constructs are difficult to define and even more difficult to apply in the international context. Critically Donnelly underscores that when properly understood, the term human rights leaves considerable space for cross-cultural relativity and national diversity (2007, 281).
Anthropological and historical records demonstrate that the lack of an established definition or working conceptual framework has and continues to hamper the realisation of truly universal human rights (Donnelly 2007, 284). Donnelly argues that while there may have been a considerable overlap and potential universality in values across time, cultural and national boundaries, such a consensus in values did not translate into an endorsed human rights practice or regime (2007, 285). The missing vision of inalienable individual human rights presupposing equality, is a lack of established definitions and institutional enforcement. The greatest strength of Donnelly’s argument is his sensitive treatment and understanding of…
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