HOW A MAJOR HIERARCHY EMERGED HISTORICALLY
Major divisions between human rights today are a product of the Cold War
Western Democracies stressed universality of civil and political rights
While Communist Bloc favoured economics and social rights
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LARGER PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS
Who is the holder of rights?
Are human rights inherently Western?
Emphasis on the individual over the group – individual is a social unit
Accusation: West’s attempt to apply universal standards of human rights in developing
countries is a form of cultural imperialism and an effort to obstruct their development
Cultural Relativism – community is basic social unit (against individualism, freedom of
choice, or equality)
WHAT MAKES HUMAN RIGHTS REVOLUTIONARY?
Human rights law contradicts the doctrine of national sovereignty
National Sovereignty – states can do as they please within their own borders
Sovereignty is limited
Traditional view: rights are a matter of national sovereignty – right of a nation to self-
determination – belief that human rights should be internal affairs
Enforcement gap – universality of human rights not matched by universal international
Challenge – the particularism of nation-states and the principle of inviolability of their