The West Human Rights

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In the West human rights were born in the modern age as a result of the Industrial Revolution and thrived in the age of the “liberal state.” With the establishment and consolidation of modern democratic political structure since the late eighteenth century, the value of individual freedom was substantiated and power of individuals recognized. Consequently, the mentality instilled in people for centuries that the sovereignty belongs to the ruler broke off and was replaced by the new mindset that the nation is rooted in people. It was John Locke (1632-1704) who first set rights on the political agenda. He asserted that every man has the right “to preserve his life, liberty and estate” (Locke, 1962, p. 87). This ideal was later echoed and…show more content…
The fact that the concept of human rights originated in the West does not undermine its universal applicability. The creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) signifies the recognition of human rights across the world. Forty-eight states voted in favor of the adoption of the UDHR in 1948. By 2011 the number of United Nations member-states had increased to 193 (United Nations Human Rights, 2014). However, in reality the confrontation between universalism and cultural relativism as to whether human rights are universally applicable underlies the discussion of human rights in theory and practice. The rationale behind the universalist interpretation of human rights is that its genuine concern for human dignity and flourishing finds echoes in all cultures, religions, and traditions that have survived the transition to the modern era. In contrast, the theory of cultural relativism holds that an individual’s beliefs and activities can only be comprehended in terms of their own culture; therefore there are no objective standards by which others can be judged. Thus, moral values are historically and culturally specific rather than universal. Jack Donnelly (1989), a renowned human rights scholar, maintained that cultural relativism in reality had little to do with local or indigenous cultures and often
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