Human Rights and Equity Studies notes and review

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Human Rights and Equity Studies
HREQ 2010
Antonio Torres- Ruiz

What are Human rights? Rules that we should follow that recognize the fundamental entitlement of every human being regardless of their identity or background (Universal declaration of human rights) - Is not a law in every country but it was built as a guideline to all countries in making their own human rights regulations Cyrus the Great initiated the idea of human rights by freeing slaves after the conquering of Babylon and told them that they could be free to choose religion etc. USA and France had revolutions about the equality of all humans Forming the UN was to reaffirm faith in human rights, after both world wars UN came up with the Universal Declaration of Human rights (signed in 1948) Why do we include people like MLK Jr when talking about human rights but not Malcolm X when he fought not just for right for black people but rights universally as well? Evolution of economic and social rights.. The process of including the rest of the world in the universal declaration of human rights What is Equity? Equity - about treating people according to their needs/ a condition of justice obtained when people get what they deserve Equality – treating people all the same EXAMPLE: someone who is in a wheelchair, if there are just stairs then everyone is being equally treated but in order to find an equitable solution, the person in the wheelchair must be given access to some way to get up the stairs (elevator or lift whatever) Equity, in the world usually has to do with financial resources and their allocation Human Rights Human rights are ultimately political as they are a result of a negotiation that takes place in the public sphere - We engage as members of society to try to come together with a consensus about what rules should prevail, what kind of basic obligations all members of society have to the others - Human rights have not always been universal they have been exclusionary - We recognize citizens as members of society who have a status in a particular country - Rights in our society are recognized not only to human beings but also to other entities (i.e animals or corporations) this is a social construct that we have created and some find this very problematic as it sometimes trumps the rights of human beings - Indigenous groups in the Americas claim that earth has rights, that the planet earth has intrinsic rights that are afforded to it Human rights are also social because they are the result of human interaction, they are historical in how they originate and all that makes them of a particular nature, i.e they are relational - They are a product of our mutual recognition of each other as human beings They are the political relatedness between human beings and the moral relatedness between each other Definition of Equity - A condition of justice obtained when people get what they deserve - To be fair/ to treat people so as to allow them to enjoy their basic human rights as much as we do - Recognizing that people come from different histories or circumstances so they all cannot be treated equally - Something has to be done so that this can be achieved and that is associated with the notion of equity If we recognize that certain groups need special treatment because of the circumstances that they face, we would therefore need to develop policies to bring them up to the same level as everyone else – not easily accepted for people who are minorities as THEY ARE MINORTIES, so the majority do not/cannot understand their position Equality is descriptive Equity is normative because it responds to a certain set of moral values *****Natives in Canada deserve equity as they are the only group who can make the claim that we live on their land but in order to come up with an equitable solution, we would have to re- allocate resources and that’s something that is not very easy to do and therefore something that people are not often willing to do Hanna Arendt’s “Human Condition” People in power may have certain actions that you may not be able to control and in order to define yourself or ‘oneself’ it would be pertinent to just define it as one people or just human and so as one people we would be unable to be complicit in major crimes - The first thing that the Nazi regime did was to make people right-less because the moment that occurs, they lose some of their status as human beings, if no state recognizes them as persons then they lose some of their humanity What makes us humans? - Origins or the west (there is a problem in the recognition of every person as human beings, ***greeks did not recognize women, slaves, foreigners) - The division between the private and the public sphere - Contrast between the city state and the modern nation states (as a modern nation state, how did Nazi Germany occur?) - The one condition that we all share is that we all live on earth - In 1957 with the launch of sputnik we changed concept the basic human condition, we might be able to escape from earth and go into space - All human beings are capable of other things on earth, some because they are conditioned and others because they have the capacity - All human beings need to engage in certain activities in order to survive, we are limited (vita activa v. vita contemplativa) - We have certain conditions, what we are not who we are - There is a clear distinction between human condition vs. human nature Vita activa v. vita contemplativa Aristotle – truly free activities, the only free activity is vita contemplativa Vita activa – labour, work and action Labour – food collection, shelter (private sphere, done by women, slaves and children) Work – technology, tools that we make, constructions that we build, institutions (possibility of leaving some kind of mark on earth as a collective)-transform surroundings (how we change our environment) (IN BETWEEN THE PRIVATE AND PUBLIC SPHERE AND WAS SOMETHING THAT WAS NECESSARY BUT WAS DONE BY BOTH SLAVES AND CITIZENS) Action – human activities that we all engage in that are defined by how we relate to each other in the public sphere, it is through action that we can and have defined human rights (PUBLIC SPHERE BECAUSE IT IS THE INTERACTION BETWEEN MEN THAT IS USED TO DEFINE THE RULES AND GOVERNANCE OF THE PEOPLE ETC.) - There was equality among some and not all, equality was among Greek men but not women or slaves, equality was based on exclusion, based on the possibility of legitimately using force against other human beings (women and slaves) to keep them in the private sphere - Technology has become invasive and a large sum of the notion of the private sphere as a scared space has been lost. The private allows you to become a well-rounded individual so that you can meaningfully partake in the public life. But because of the disappearance of the private sphere there is nowhere to do that anymore - Vain glory or fame vs immortality (no long lasting impact, people just want to extra up themselves so that the can be seen in a way that is passed down and well known but its fake because it’s short-lived) 1648 – treaty of westfalia (gave the people the right to be a nation state by themselves without interference of the European countries) **Freedom was located in the political realm, the people who were able to go outside of the private sphere and participate fully in politics were the ones who were ‘free’ from the duties involved in the private sphere (It was the duty or the responsibility of all men to come out and be involved in the public sphere otherwise they would be seen as lesser) **Private sphere was more about depravation, the economic belonged to the private (subsistence) **Violence was conceived as pre-political, within the city once you recognize others as equals, and violence was not tolerated. It was used within the private sphere to control slaves and women and children but it was not tolerated for those who were considered your equals (other men) The State – is the political entity (government will rule over a population within a certain territory and they have a recognition of sovereignty by its own people and other similar political entities) - Government/Authority - Population to be governed - Sovereignty - Territory The Nation – an imagined political community that shares culture, language or religious background, it is imagined as inherently limited and sovereign, should be controlled by no one but themselves The idea of the nation as we think of it today has been part of the consolidation of the state Because of the break down of the private sphere, the state began to become more engaged in the activities that occurred within the private sphere The ones in power defined what is to be the nation and what is to be the family and human rights were not really afforded to those who fell outside of those definitions because they were not considered to be citizens The Social Sphere - The social sphere and the political sphere are intrinsically intertwined and it is difficult to separate them as politics has to do with yourself and what happens to you and the people around you. - Matters that were formerly a part of the private sphere have become a collective concern - Society attempts to normalize its members which leads to conformism because when you are normal you are able to become a more productive and responsible citizen and contribute to the economy just like everyone else - Emancipation of labour from the private sphere is an unnatural growth (there is an obsession with economic growth, sometimes a state may not need more economic growth but instead they need to reallocate resources) Concrete consequences: - Transformation of modern communities into societies of labourers and jobholders - Normalization of social life led to the emergence of economics as a science - The private sphere is enriched by modern individualism – (I matter and I have some value because I am a human being The public realm In the past - Everything could be seen by everyone - The world itself: common to everyone and of real value - The space where uniqueness is possible and where one could aim for something more permanent (immortality) Modern: - Whatever is allowed according to the established norms - Conformism or sameness leads to the destruction of the public sphere as a space for diversity - Immortality has become vanity or vain glory - Public admiration – monetary reward Private realm (was seen as a place to escape the public life in order to replenish themselves) PAST - Property was different from wealth • Private property in modern days it is a place that can be sold for its value • In the past it was supposed to be a sacred space with an attachment to it from the people - The law was defined as a boundary line between the private and the public PRESENT - Private ownership has lost importance vis-a- vis social wealth - The public realm has been restricted to government (administration) – negative outcome because it is a small circle that we don’t get involved with and we send politicians and administration to do it, instead of it being something for all people to be fully engaged in and informed on - Mass society destroys the public and private realms SHARMA (originally from india) Human rights is not just a western concept - It is universal and moral We have moved from individuality to individualism, we tend to think that each one of us is the centre of the universe - Instead of engaging in the public sphere in a more meaningful way, we engage as individuals, completely self-centered and it’s all about what you like and what you dislike Some ideas are not transferable to law and are therefore imperfect obligations that we have and there is a long history of people respecting certain norms When we look at certain values we can see that they did not all come from western civilization so human rights are a global thing that belongs to everyone Classical European activists put words to certain rights that existed within society for long periods of time before they were written down - Those that say human rights evolved in the west, say it happened because of the emergence of a middle class - We have to be more careful that saying that rights only came about because of the middle class emergence, it must be more than that because there were intrinsic rights for all human beings that were never explicitly written down but were understood - In the west, some rights were clearly articulated i.e right to freedom, land etc. - Individual dynamic of rights has very much to do with the west, as the individual rights are in emphasis in the west and is not in other traditions Commit to the dignity of other individuals against violence in with the principle of treating people equally - No system of law can ever fully live up to the ideal Ultimately if we understand that we cannot fully live up to the ideal then we look to religions as potential sources for the values that we hold dear as a society Confucianism - The idea that we should love everyone equally makes no sense to Confucius, the first and most important obligation is towards your family (central for Confucianism) (easier to relate to similar people than to ones who we don’t know) - There is also the notion of benevolence as a moral value (i.e treating others with dignity), you don’t sacrifice everything for a stranger but there are things that you should do for all human beings Hinduism - Often associated with the idea of the caste system - With limited rights for some, some argue that we can dismiss Hinduism as a source for human rights - But there are moral rules that apply equally for all classes with a basis of universal morality - There is a duty that we have to all human beings regardless of caste - Truthfulness, restraint, purity etc. We have to be more careful about generalizing or essentializing other religions and traditions Judaism - Very exclusionary religion Exam – definitions and the relevance of it and how it related to human rights and equity of concepts, a list 8 0r 10 of them and you will have to pick 4 or 5 and then an essay question, 2 or 3 choices and you write one SALLY ENGLE MERRY When it comes to the universality of human rights, it comes down to the discussion between culture and human rights Rights are articulated through culture, sometimes the articulation of rights does not necessarily respond to the culture of other people Anthropologists were very critical of the position people took in forcing certain rights on certain cultures - They believed that cultures were fixed and that they did not change over time,, but cultures evolve and with contact with others, there can be an adoption of ideas or values because they resonate within their own culture and not because it is being forced on them - Some try to avoid primitivism or thinking that other cultures are backwards - What we want to do is observe culture as something that is historical and defines history or the way that people once interacted Culture – represents the ideas, customs and social behaviours of a particular people or society, both tangible and intangible products, has to do with history and within a certain context or geography and where they are located, it is expressed through different means such as language, religion, food or clothing - Seems to be historically determined but they also change or evolve over time Human rights as defined today seemed to have been articulated in the west Although an argument can be made that the idea that we are all equal was not western because of the exclusion of certain people, the human rights that we understood in 1948 Is not what we understand today - We have increasingly engaged in inter-cultural dialogue and other cultures have contributed to our discussion of human rights - Rights are not for certain groups but for all of humanity - NGO or civil society organizations are embracing an idea of human rights as a tool to overcome the oppression that they have experienced but the UN continues to be central in the expansion of human rights The invasion of Hawaii by the west was an example of the evolution of rights evolving or changing for the worse because women had a better position in terms of their rights before the invasion Women not being able to express their voices sometimes slows the process of adoption of certain rights for women in a country The breakdown of the private sphere has caused a re-definition of the family unit, culture therefore changed with this because with the change of the family comes a change of culture because the first place that we experience culture is in the family The only way we can come to accept the universality of human rights is if we accept the following: “Members of a society must believe that there is a universal moral law transcending their own culture, society or period of history abut which they can know something with relative clarity…. And this universal moral law must involve an affirmation of the dignity of each person as a member, a participant in relationship with others, in a community that extends to all humankind” (Max Stackhouse) - It is virtually impossible for all humans to agree on everything all the time so there will never be a universality in human rights because there are different ways of thinking for all different people We need to acknowledge that human rights are a social and political construction, we define, construct and expand them through social and political interaction and recognize that every single person needs to be involved in that discussion - Libertarians embrace a philosophy that would not involve the idea of equity The core idea of rightlessness has to do with our current reality, to be recognized, the rights that we associate, we would need to have status and be a citizen of a modern nation state, without it, we are rightless - In the modern world, you can be made stateless and therefore rightless - Modernity has to do with the full awareness of “the other” (when the Europeans became aware of the western world that there were other people and there was a process of self- reflection that made us aware that we are different, there is plurality but there is also others - We became aware that somehow not everyone shared our values, in order for some cultures to survive, they would have to dominate others KEY MISTAKES - Conceptualizing human rights as natural and inalienable o They are not natural, it is about politics and engagement - Confusing human rights with civil rights o In Human rights there is something that is applied to all human beings without status and civil rights has to do with rights within a certain state - The international Dimension o There is no institution that can allow for a complete protection of rights in every country, there is no institution that Is able to enforce power over any nation-state Alternative Understanding of Human Rights - We have to understand the right to have rights, which is the right to belong to a community or a political community o It is only when we belong to a political community that recognizes us as members will our rights be protected or enforced - It also means a right to have a place in the world and recognized as a member of a political community - We must recognize our rights to speech an action, freedom to express who we are, what we need and what we want Further on Sally: Non-essentialist theory of culture - Sally argues against a static definition of culture - No culture is ever set in stone, all of them change and go through a transformation - She defines culture as: “cultures are conceived as historically produced, - globally inter-connected – no relevant culture today has gone without influence from another culture - internally contested – there is diversity within cultures, there is probably at least one individual in that cultural group who challenges the ideas of that culture - human rights evolves – there are ideas that have been accepted and some have been thrown out but we have to know that it has been changed - all cultures have the capacity to recognize that we have the basic human condition Some cultures were made to feel that they were more inferior to others, the people in the east have felt that there has been a western imposition of human rights on them. - Whatever cultures or values that the west held, because of their power, they imposed on the rest of the world ***No state should be entrusted with absolute power over its own citizens because there is a risk fo abuse of power and a violation of its own citizens ****There has been an emergence of ‘contact-zones’ because most people do not give up their cultural identities. There is mainstream Canadian culture but because of the ease of transportation and communication, people who move here no longer have to give up their culture and assimilate because they can keep in contact and move back and forth to the country that they come from.\ *****There are deterritorialized communities, where people in a certain community do not feel like the only belong to one state, so going with the definition of a nation-state, it cannot exist because there needs to be a clearly defined territory and with deterritorilization, this cannot happen. Citizenship and Human Rights - Andrew Vincent - The nation-state is at the center of any argument on human rights, even more so since 1945becasue from that moment on the rest of the world became independent from European rule - The problem is that the nation state by nature and how it was created because it embodies that possibility for genocide based on the exclusionary nature of governing - Nationalism and racism are both traits that can be used to rally a people and exclude others - Having the idea of the nation as central to your identity can be very problematic because of the nature of exclusion - Citizenship means belonging to a political community Civil citizenship - We have to agree to belong to a the community in somewhat of a contract and the nation will protect our rights and use force if necessary Social citizenship - Associated with the second generation of rights and is quite recent in the west - Central value of some hat has to do with human dignity, we need to come together and provide for those in need, guarantee employment and healthcare etc. - We can guarantee these rights mainly through taxation or redistribution - it is only through politics than we can affect the process of creating human rights Cultural citizenship - The rebirth of nationalism and the rebirth of cultural identity - Occurred after 1989 after the collapse of the soviet union and the emergence of nationality - 1992 the year of indigenous people and the recognition of their claims - More countries in the west are moving towards a definition of multiculturalism for the state because we are all made of immigrants Exam Review Definitions: definition and elaboration on the relevance for human rights and equity 1) Universal human rights 2) Equity vs. equality - be clear on the difference between equity and equality, equity is associated with the idea of justice and not everyone agrees with what justice is. The three kids and the flute example, there are strong arguments that each child should receive the flute so the idea of justice is not universal. It has to do with where people come from and their specific point of view Hannah Arendt’s Human Condition – labour, work and action make us human and we should be able to define each of them Vita activa – the life experience that we associate with our everyday life, our living experience, all the activities we engage in the continue living and to engage with others Vita contemplativa – the kind of activity we engage in the we associate with meta-physics, the idea of contemplation, when we don’t engage with the rest of the world or we go into our own mental process, you would be able ot discover or uncover the truth by yourself, you could discover god or understand the universe or what we are all about We discuss human rights through vita activa because it is the most common for all humans, not everyone agrees on vita contemplativa Aristotle and other Greeks believed that vita contemplativa was the ultimate life, however not all human beings could engage in labour, work and action equally. \she does not think that contemplativa is less important but in order to explain what the human condition is, we have to stay at the level of activa. Arendt’s modern concept of history What had happened with labour work and action throughout the history of the western world Originally labour and work had more to do with the public sphere and only men could be participants in both the public and private sphere The sphere suffered a transformation in the history of the west due to the struggle of others to be recognized for equal rights because of the historical use of only men as the ones who receive rights Emphasis was made by the west on the ‘individual’ and there was an emergence of the modern nation-state. Labour and work were taken out of the public sphere and put into that social sphere and that is defined by economics. There is less participation by society in general because there had been an emergence of speicalization and there are now professional politicians and there is no more debate in politics because everyone is over involved in the social sphere If you don’t fit the central definition of what a nation state is then you are marginalized and left out, there is a narrow definition Moyn’s historical revision of the meaning of the human rights discourse - Elaborated on the history of human rights - Idea of human rights represents a utopia or something that we look up to but cannot necessarily achieve - It is a utopia that came about as a result of a rejection of politics - It is not specifically western because the western idea of human rights were for the western people because the rest of the world was colonized Human rights and global imperatives (sen) - If we think about the state it is because somebody dreamed of the rights that we are where we are nows - Perfect vs. imperfect obligations - Some obligations can be clearly stated like the right to vote, through elections and you have the right to vote - It is difficult to put into law something that says you must save someone when they are in danger but because of morality and ethics e might not be able to put everything into law but these things would be imperfect obligations and there is a centrality of ethics Are human rights universal? - The historical and moral arguments (sharma) o Even if some of the rights that we can easily identify, we associate witht the history of the west, we have to have a look at other cultures not to find the same articulation of human rights but values that we align with traditional human rights o In the elaboration for the argument of the universality of human rights, you need to know at least one of the religions views and how rights were articulated within their community and how it was similar to the western idea of human rights o People often accept that the west originated rights because of the emergence of the middle class against the bourgeoisie o Particularity of origin does not prevent universality of significance, even if there were no human rights in a particular culture those ideas may resonate within the culture despite the different traditions - The cultural argument (merry) o Questioned the idea of essentializing culture of cultural identity, i.e generalize or reduce or have a reductionist view on culture, and to define culture as static or permanent and homogeneous as if everyone who identifies to a culture is exactly the same o There are differences in the people within the culture and some cultures come into contact with other cultures and adopt or question certain ideas about their own cultures that they previously held o She deals with the fact that the nation state is changing as well, the European states have been changing with more immigration from other parts of the world, it used to be easy to define the nation as homogeneous but now it is difficult The paradox of human rights (parekh) - Define what the paradox is - And what it means to be rightless - what is the right to have rights (what does it refer to) o analysis of the state becomes crucial it is the only entity that can guarantee rights but is also the one that will violate rights, who will guarantee rights for stateless or rightless people? Citizenship and human rights (Vincent) - a different way of grouping rights - the centrality of citizenship - we tend to make a mistake in thinking of human rights as citizenship rights but they are not, however human rights should be supported by citizenship rights - the state should provide you with some protection, economic rights and civil rights are second generation rights and they are mostly positive rights as they are things that someone will have to give you and not prevent you from having - for many civil rights has to do with life liberty and property as basic rights, liberal or libertarian, the state should not interfere in the private sphere at all so anything beyond the basic would be a violation - social citizenship articulated as a human right is not really logical, it takes of in the west after the second world war - the state needs to tax citizens to be able to provide security and guarantee political rights and no more than that however with social citizenship, the state needs more resources to provide things like health care and welfare - cultural citizenship, different people in the state have different cultures and so there must be freedom for people within the state to practice their own culture - there is a question of patriotism and nationalist sentiments if we are truly committed to universal human rights because what ends up happening is that there is a challenge, how do you reconcile the notion of being patriotic with universal human rights, you have to be loyally disloyal if the state crosses a line then loyalty stops but other than that you should be loyal full marks for paradox? And changing cultures why so low? Essay why low? Equity through equality - equality is about how we describe all human beings, not saying what we will do or not do just saying that we are all equal - equity is of a normative nature Should equity be a social objective? Justice and human rights - amartya sen’s analysis of john rawls’s theory of justice - theory of justice: a search for the right type of institutions o corrective justice has to do often with punishment o in cases of the violations of certain principles what are the negative consequences that people will have to pay for their past violations o you need to engage in a public debate on what justice really is - justice as fairness o How can we in the west, with ever more multiculturalism define what justice truly is? - a strong demand for impartiality o rawls demands that we put forth an effort to be as impartial as possible - the original position under the veil of ignorance A THEORY OF JUSTICE First stage: constitutional - the moment in which the society comes up with its own definition of justice and institutions and a basic set of rules or understanding (life, liberty/freedom and property) Second: legislatives - you come up with another set of rules that move beyond being basic and take on the pertinent issues in the society and how you should deal with them (not everything is defined but most things can be derived from this) Based on the two principles of justice outlined by rawls Principles are as follows: - Each person is to have an equal right to the most basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others - Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both o Reasonably expected to be to everyone’s advantage o Attached to positions and offices open to all In order to create any institutions in any given society we need to agree on what the core values are that we will build the institutions on Sen’s Critique - There needs to be a comparative analysis of justice, such that we listen to what others from outside of our cultures and institutions have to say about justice and maybe apply the relevant ideas to our own theory of justice to make it more complete - Incentive problems - Impartiality conditioned by ideology - Almost impossible to come to a consensus in practice All societies have a constitutional moment and with modern day mix
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