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Chapter 9

POL114H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Human Rights Commission, International Humanitarian Law, Equal Protection Clause

Political Science
Course Code
E D Schatz

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1. Individual vs. Collective Conceptions of Human Rights:
The West: insisted that the individual is the most important component of any
political system, and that right must be protected from encroachment by the state. ->
Realists, Liberals (allow the right to private property).
Soviet Union: argued that collective right (those of entire populations) is the most
important.-> Communists, Marxists
2. Relativism vs. Universalism in Human Rights
Cultural Relativism: ethical values vary from place to place and over time.
Universalism: Share transnational cultural understandings
Ex: activists campaigned for MNCs to adopt ethical guidelines when operating in low-
income regions.
3. “Constructive Engagement” Strategy:
Trade, investment, interdependence will generate social change in countries with
human rights problems and that interdependence will create leverage that can later
be used to promote human rights.
4. Human Rights and UN:
international cooperation on economic, social, cultural and humanitarian matters
the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
5. UN has declared International Days and Weeks Related to Human Rights:
International Day of Commemoration in Memory of Victims of the Holocaust, World
Day against Child Labour, World Refugee Day, etc
6. Human Rights and Regional IGOs:
Council of Europe: maintains European Court, human rights provision
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Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE): protection of human
rights by all signatory governments across Europe and North America
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): Human rights commission in Asia
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC): possesses Human Resources
Development Working Group
Contemporary Human Rights Issues
7. Ethics and Constraints on War:
Inter arma silent leges : “In times of war the law is silent”
Wars must still be fought in accordance with certain ethical principles
Absolutist ethics: foundation of the beliefs of pacifist; maintain that international
violence and war are never justified, no matter the circumstances. Refusal to use
violence or go to war may permit the most horrible acts to take place.
“Just War” doctrine: attempt to constrain warfare by establishing the conditions under
which it is just to enter into war and by establishing the level of violence is
considered acceptable. Wars should be limited and conduct of war should be
governed by rules.
Jus ad bellum (justice of a war) Jus in bello (the justness of the manner
in which a war is fought)
War of last resort Consistent with principle of
Authorised by a legitimate
authority (state or IGO)
Any risk to civilians must be
proportionate to the military value of the
Waged for just cause (not for
Discriminate ( combatants and
civilians are treated differently )
Good chance of successfully
achieving desirable out come, wars for
good outcome
Civilians are not intentional targets and
civilians casualties must be minimised.
Must end in peace, to the
situation before the war
Outcome must create a more
stable and peaceful environment
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