Are human rights innate and universal?

Topics: Human rights, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United States Declaration of Independence Pages: 5 (1694 words) Published: September 23, 2014
Are human rights innate and universal?
Living Human Rights

Post WWII on the 10 December 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was espoused by the General Assembly of the United Nations in order to agree on the notion that such atrocities that occurred throughout the Great War and the Second World War would not ever be reciprocated. The document that was drawn up in less than two years by the UN and Western states, and although ambitious it would guarantee a premise for life and living for every individual all over the world. The UDHR are founded on nobility, equality and reverence, and are said to be aimed at all cultures and religions within the West and East of the globe. However there is great discrepancy regarding the justification and practicality of human rights all over the world due to political, economic and cultural differences and limitations. Universal means that ‘something’ affects, applies or is completed by everyone all over the world – there is no distinctive bias shown and equal policies are applied. Innate, in relation to human rights, means that people are given natural rights purely based on the fact that he/she is human and alive. Therefore, are human rights universal and innate or is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations an idealistic revolution that creates Western ideologies in order to govern states in their entirety?

Unfortunately, nothing can be universal in terms of treatment, beliefs and perceptions, since all values are interpreted and restricted by culture and religion. Within our modern world at present there is no universally founded culture that every person is entitled to follow or support, and therefore stemming from this main argument; no rights can be universal. Human rights have been discussed and acknowledged from the beginning of time itself, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all on in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28), and have influenced numerous societal protests and movements, addressing political, economic and moral affairs. The Magna Carta of 1215 that was instigated by King John of England was a Charter concerned with the people of his land, directed towards their liberty and political rights (Sharp, 2006) and influenced the development of human rights. Although at the time it was seen as a dramatic change in social structure and independence for the better, the Magna Carta did not include slaves, commoners and women of the country. The Charter of 1215 cannot therefore be a founding premise for human rights in the modern world, as they have been constructed and do not apply to all of humankind. Human rights are not universal neither innate from this perspective. Another historical significance that has influenced the UDHR and human rights was the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It allowed US independence from the British Crown (Taylor, 2008) and offered protection to people with property, also offering the right to promote capitalism. The document outlined rights that applied to distinct groups of people through a revolt and these rights attained through conflict had to be incorporated into the law. It can be concluded that the Declaration of Independence cannot be universal as it promotes capitalism, therefore inequality, in addition to the fact that there is a legal possession of rights – they are not innate. Human rights cannot be universal if they are dependent on the law, as governing bodies and legal systems vary greatly from country to country. As philosopher Burke states, “rights cannot be based on universal equality but must be grounded on a particular historic legacy within a particular nation. Every nation has a different history”.

The movement of human rights since the UDHR was created has proved to cause great debates about the authenticity and validity of the document. Many argue that it is too idealistic and that it is an “instrument of...
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