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POLSCI 2I03 (101)
Andrew Lui (26)
Lecture 14

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Political Science
Andrew Lui

Humanitarian intervention- emerging norms like international criminal court, responsibility to protect. The linkage of the definition of human rights with human dignity. The order of international human rights- being internationally recognized, and codified in international law and part of international customary law. You as an individual could be held responsible not adhering to international standards. Before 1945 if a state leader or a soldier committed an act that we could have deemed as morally wrong such as participating in death camps in Poland and Germany; could not be held responsible. There was no international law that condemned it and prosecuted them with it. After 1945, that you were just following orders or you were the sovereign didn’t exist, some examples being Nuremberg trials. At the background many of the victors persecuted Nazis and criminals of war. This signified that human beings had rights as an individual but also responsibility not to breach this new set of rights. This was novel in IR, an important point to consider in things like international criminal court. Human rights are not dependent on nationality, but one has to be careful about these definitions as they talk. ‘This is my right to do this in Canada, etc’ not all of those claims are human rights and at the same time not everything good in IR and domestically is human rights. The set of things with regards to human rights are other things that are flexible as the universal declaration of rights was not set in concrete about what rights are to be. They are something which individuals can claim against the group whether that group is in the form of state, foreign state, religious group, community, etc. that is not to say that group rights do not exist, religious groups have rights, and nations have rights. But the whole point of human rights and why they arose since 1945 onwards is because there is still political traction and utility about the idea of human rights, that human beings need protection from that larger group regardless what that groups says/ does is good for the larger whole. Human rights give you the protection if you do not want to do what the larger group is/ wants you to do. Related to all these notions, it is not simply academic and human rights aren’t around simply because there are individuals in the West that wanted to write about human rights. Human rights arose and are still around today because of the many types of violations that continue to be committed against individuals. Given the assumption that human rights are living thing that have political traction and utility, they have been part of political debate since 1945. They have been the forefront of many diplomatic spats, treaties, and world summits between world’s great powers and not great powers. Human rights are not an add-on that states thought of once achieved, many revolutions were fought on rights. Going through the history of IR since 1945 onwards, human rights are the bipolar of cold war which is why we have civil and political rights, and social and cultural rights. The separation is simply political because the one side the Soviets thought they can top the other side over social, cultural and economic rights, while the West side thought they can top the other side with civil and political rights. Discussions of human rights have carried over discussions of developments. Many states after decolonization have said that they needed to develop (the primary focus of state, all the state energies, policies would be focused on development). Many state leaders have made this claim, many Middle Eastern, South- Asia, South East Asia and African leaders have said it. Once we feed the population then maybe we can bring in human rights. This has been a standard argument among many of these regimes. People cannot vote if they cannot eat, what is the point to vote if you cannot stay alive. Empirical research performed by well-known scholars around the world have said that in the short term you can make that argument, but in the long term civil and political rights are important to development. Unless we look at other indicators, distribution of wealth, infant mortality, education, freedom of press, speech, all these things are necessary in the longer term to grow for the country not in terms of GDP, in terms of the rich, but for the country as a whole. Example China has said that they need to forgo civil and political rights to make sure people are not left hungry, they can repay their loans. The great leap forward 1957-61 was a development plan within China which said let’s take young adults and since books are a bourgeois pursuit, lets put you to country side and grow food. Take the surplus we get from the production of food to repay our loans. What essentially happened in the absence of freedom of movement, political rights, a famine occurred. Many of the state leaders didn’t know that if you work the land too hard, the land will fail. The great leap forward resulted in the deaths of 3 million people, without many people knowing outside Beijing. The development program failed. The end was when they realized they couldn’t sustain the illusion that shipping people off to the country side and having them starve to death was not working. It was not an idea out of blue, that development is a bad thing. What is important is the logic here; if you want to feed your people and concentrate on the economy and we need to take away you civil and political rights will result in fail in the longer term. Sen- He compared China with India, India has had many famines since history but ever since India became d
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