Lecture 4 Human Rights
1. Dilemma about HR
2. Origin and Evolution since 1945
3. Question of Moral Choice
1. Dilemma about HR HR in international affairs- limits opportunities for moral action. Anarchy,
survival, security dilemma, absence of intl prosecutor. World where absolutes do not exist and
are counterproductive. Rights, Justice remain relative and contested. What is perceived as an
absolute is a matter of opinion/ negotiation. Universal HR are more often than not perceived
as another attempt by the West to further their own interests. The very idea of universal HR is
contested- global ethics implies one world; there is no such thing as states/ specifics- a
discriminating factor. But they are a political reality. We have a minimal global society of
states is implied- despite being different, all share some minimal standard of behaviour. In the
name of HR, states also act aggressively- Napoleon to GWB. When you expand and invade in
the name of HR, there is an issue. The bloody forward of an impossible book. But some
progresses have been made.
2. Origin and Evolution HR recognitions are extensions of Western constitutions- rights of
individuals- declaration of UNHCR 1948- very Western declaration. Rights for groups vs.
rights for individuals. Rights have extended to economics- natural resources should be
controlled/ managed by people of that region not MNCs- trend during 60s and 70s- didn’t last
long. WashingtonAgreement washed away this progress in economic equality. Relevance or
declarations and covenants are questioned. Minimal list of rights questioned even in 1948.
Relevance in the UN Framework. Recognise plurality of the concept. Issues of power- CW-
two giants facing each other; issues became frozen and never addressed properly. Strategic
questions at the time meant avoiding nuclear disaster was main priority. It took the first wave
of détente to negotiate a minimal framework in 1975- both recognised HR as a matter of
discussion between the two. Cautionary and minimal entry of HR into diplomacy- made clear
that Washington had no right to interfere in USSR and vv. SouthAmerica- activism of some
NGOs (Amnesty) underlined violation of HR- more transparency, focus, emphasis pressure
on regimes to open up and democratise. SouthAfrica- target of intl community-
states/transnational actors. Had to wait until end of CW for the moral standing of states.
Kosovo- threat to a minority- threat stopped being domestic; became a concern for the
international community. Huge change of that resolution- became a matter for that intl
community- sovereignty stopped being absolu