The the Landmarks in the Human Rights Theory in Historical Context: a Synoptic View

Topics: Human rights, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United States Declaration of Independence Pages: 11 (3940 words) Published: April 3, 2013
The Landmarks in the Human Rights Theory in Historical Context: A Synoptic View. Conrad John Masabo Introduction Human rights (HRs) campaigns, debates and concerns have and are dominating the international and local forum and sphere of interests and “human rights talk has gained increasing influence in the international relations of the global south, especially in debates about emancipatory potential for people at the grassroots to influence development projects and for emerging domestic civil societies.1 In fact, “one of the significant areas under discussion in our today’s world is the issue of human rights.2 But the fact is: it is only of the recent that the language or phrase human right have come to mean something that we did not use or refer it to. In that regard, it is argued then, that ideas synonymous to the phrase human rights is not new at all, but started longer before being written down in international documents such as The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHRs) and national constitutions such as The Constitutions of the United Republic of Tanzania [CURT]. People from time to time have revealed their concern for other people through their commitment to principles of prosperity; justice and caring for others through the cultural practices and tradition. Commenting on the origin and the foundation of human rights, Hellsten and Lwaitama in 2004 contended as follows: Human rights, however, are not types of entity that happens to be there for people to claim. Rather they had to be invented and grounded on various philosophical, theological and political theories and enforced by various international conventions and agreements as well as by national and regulations.3

It is now evident that the phrase or “the language of universal human rights is arguably the only shared value system which we have in the modern world for discussing questions of justice.”4 In that regard the questions clicking right away to the mind of those sharing this view are: “What makes basic foundation of human rights? Are all human rights claims bona fide and substantial?5 Answering these questions serves as the take off point for providing the basis for the theory of human rights and thus is “an indisputable stand point locating a fundamental basis which 

MASABO, Conrad John is a masters student at the Pan African University Institute for Governance, Humanities and Social Sciences (PAU-GHSS), studying for an MSc in Governance and Regional Integration. He is a teaching assistant at the Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE) a constituent college of the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. His research interests are in African Affair ranging to African Peace and Conflict, History, Politics, Gender and Development. He can be reached by the following 1

. (Accessed on December 31,

2009). . Michael Sia Tesha, “Whether Human Rights Claims Are Genuine: In Perspective of the Pacem in Terris” in Africa Tomorrow 11/1 (June 2009), 67-80; 67. 3 . Sirkku K. Hellsten and Azaveli F. Lwaitama, Civic Ethics Handbook: Ethics and Reflective Skills for Democracy (Dar es Salaam: Oxford University Press, 2004), 29. 4 . Tina Beattie. Review of The Challenge of Human rights: Origin , Development, and Significance by Jack Mahoney (Malden, Oxford, Carlton: Blackwell Publishing, 2007) and review of Christ and Human Rights: Transformative Engagement (Aldershot UK and Burlington VT: Ashgate, 2006) http://tina.beattie.googlepages/Tablet_mahoney_newlands.pdf (Accessed on December 31, 2009). 5 . Tesha, Whether Human Rights Claims Are Genuine … 67. 2


provides an authentic and steadfast explanation.”6Today, “human rights are integral to modern life and the importance of upholding them is a key concern to many governments, NGOs and charities around the world.”7 In this essay we are going to present a historical development of human...
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