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RLG100Y1 Chapter Notes -World Politics, Islamic Fundamentalism, Asian Values

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Eleanor Pontoriero

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RLG309 Reading #1- Religion and Human Rights in the Post Cold
War Era-Notes
Human Rights and Religion Post 9/11
- Sept. 10/2001: United Nations conference, many nations disagreeing over form of discrimination,
however all agree that discrimination based on sex, race, etc. Is an infringement of moral
universal right.
o Ethical principles now commonly categorized as “human rights”
- Article discusses global tension s which exist between human rights and religion
- Religion has become ever increasingly more globally significant since the fall of the Soviet
- Angle: the rift between universal value and cultural difference. Found evidently in the human
rights discourse of the United Nations.
Global Prospects
- Cultural difference cannot be an excuse for overriding universal human rights.
o Fundamentalist interpretations of religion can be a threat to human rights
o There is a historical relationship between religious persecution and genocide.
- United Nations 1948 Universal Declaration: arose from a quest to definer basic human dignities
at a time when two major global conflicts of unprecedented scale were happening (genocide,
ethnic cleansing).
o Stephen Ryan: decades after the declaration did nothing to improve the genocide
problem, but instead saw a pattern of repetition.
o 9/11 saw a continuation of this into the 21st century, a “religious” battle (however
misguided this term is).
o Religion as a cultural phenomenon continues to manifest itself as a source of conflict,
regardless of the fact that religion promotes harmonious living and human rights.
o Major world religions acceptance of rejection of secular human rights codes will be
central to their future realization in political actuality.
o Contemporary conflicts of worldviews are best seen in the fuller context of religious
belief which survive in the world of contemporary politics.
Introduction to Part 1
- Post Cold War: fall of Soviet Communism gave rise to awareness of religious factors in world
- Potential religious and cultural threats to the new universals such as human rights.
- Two main challenges to “the West”: 1) cultural and political systems deriving from “Asian
values” and 2) the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism.
o Haynes: Universal human rights represent only Western values.
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