International Human Rights: an Unattainable Concept

HIV/AIDS in Africa, Female genital mutilation, Prime Minister of Pakistan

International human rights: an unattainable concept

“Can international human rights ever be effectively protected and enforced? Explain why or why not; and how (by what means).”

The codification of many international treaties into human rights law is an especially gray area. While there does exist half a dozen or more of these treaties establishing basic human rights, they are often an overlapping and confusing mess that is difficult to decode. International actors have agreed upon basic human rights through both formal and informal means; however, the active international enforcement of these human rights is impossible. Too many variables occur internationally to allow the protection and enforcement of these rights. The vast differences in countries’ social, institutional and economic frameworks prevent these international human rights from being enforceable. Socially, cultural relativity and norms act as a barrier to international human rights. Institutionally, the legal and political framework and policies will often prevent international human rights from being implemented. Finally, the economic status of a country, specifically their trade position, resources and stage of development can adversely affect how international human rights are applied. CULTURE AS A BARRIER TO HUMAN RIGHTS

The role of culture is a significant barrier to the implementation of international human rights. A universal agreement among certain human rights provisions is not likely to occur, specifically when dealing with countries outside of the Western liberal tradition, where many of these provisions began. According to Matt J. Granato in his article titled Is culture a barrier to human rights?, “In certain circumstances, conforming to human rights would signify a fundamental change in society that the elite is not willing to undertake, fearing a potential change in the balance of power,” (Granato 57). Therefore, while the cultural norms in Western culture may...
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