universalism of human rights

Topics: Human rights, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Rights Pages: 5 (1772 words) Published: November 23, 2013
The notion of universal application of human rights has invited many debates with various scholars arguing for and others taking the notion as being contextually based. This paper wishes to show how human rights are universal, taking into consideration the international covenants and treaties that states have assented to in a bid to show how human rights are observed, though the degree of respect varies from society to society. However, Beetham (2000: 16) postulates that to think of human rights as a matter with different layers of exactness depicts a shallow understanding and lack of respect to the human species. Under the same anointing, Douzinas (2000: 16) poses the question, “how can human rights lie in the eyes of the beholder or the purveyor of power?” Having said the above, it becomes crystal clear that by virtue of being human beings, humans are entitled to enjoy some natural rights as will be shown in essay through the use of various state constitutions, treaties, conventions and literal practices. Writing on an analytical sense, this paper would argue that human rights cannot be contextually based because the idea of respecting individual rights embodies the concrete definition of humanity itself regardless of where this principle is applied. HUMAN RIGHTS

These are rights which apply anywhere and a state can never be easily justifiable when it fails to respect these rights. Some scholars term them basic rights or absolute rights. Walter et al (2010: 10) maintain that existential rights include human dignity, life and health. Enlisted as human fundamental human rights in chapter 4 of the Zimbabwean constitution include the right to life, personal liberty, security among others. Article 1 of the United Nations Charter on Human Rights adds another element of absolute right as self-determination of peoples. Under the same point one may safely argue that these are fundamental rights which no state can easily violate without raising eyebrows. To further show how fundamental rights are universally recognized and respected is the fact that more 80% of the world’s written constitutions expressly provide a provision for the right to life, protection of the law and individual security (Human Rights Watch report 2012:15).

Human rights universalism is affirmatively supported by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948 where member states outlined what Walter et al (2010: 12) call universal standards of human rights observance. The fact that more than 200 countries from different continents are signatory to it clearly shows how different societies have a meeting point in agreeing to that fundamental or absolute rights as mentioned are universally observed and respected. The argument is further concretized by the adoption of universal human rights convention planned with an efficient oversight mechanism, such as an international court of human rights to guarantee the protection and implementation of human rights globally. This explains why governmental officials who are accused of gross human rights violations are tried at the International Criminal Courts for instance the current trial of former Kenyan president Kenyata who is facing the mentioned crimes against humanity Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) echoes the U.S. Constitution in proclaiming that "no one shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. Chapter 4: 10 of the Zimbabwean constitution expressly provide for the same right. These provisions in different countries of different cultural and political backgrounds does not only serve to show how human rights are universally applicable but it also serve to show how different political systems with different ideologies unconditionally concur in consolidating the view that by virtue of being human beings, there are some natural rights...

Bibliography: Beetham, D. 2000. Democracy and Human Rights. Polity Press, Cambridge
Douzinas, C. 2000. The End of Human Rights. Hart Publishing, Oxford,
Hatchard, J. 1993. Individual Freedoms and State Security in the African Context: The Case of Zimbabwe . Weaver Press, Harare
Linnington, G. 2001. Constitutional law in Zimbabwe. Weaver Press, Harare
Moravcsik, A. 2000. The Origins of Human Rights Regimes: Democratic Delegation in Postwar Europe. The IO Foundation and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, UK.
Morgenthau, H, J. 1960.Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace. 3d ed. New York:
Knopf, A. 2006. Review of Constitutional Studies. Human Rights: Southern Voices’ Publications
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