Dr Tim Crocker-Buqué

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights"

On the Universality of Human Rights












There has long been controversy about whether the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are universally applicable to all of humanity, or whether they should be applied dependent on local custom, culture or belief.

It is invariably the case that those people who are fortunate enough to realize more of their rights than others, exercise the power that this confers upon them to oppress others. This may be men over women, white over black, adults over children, heterosexuals over homosexuals, rich over the poor or the healthy over the sick.

People using human rights violations as a source of power and repression are those who claim that human rights are not universal. But who are these people to decide? I have never heard a story of an individual either giving up a right they previously have had, or refusing to accept a right when realized, in the name of specificity without outside pressure.

Faith and belief is often used as justification for the view that rights are not universal, especially if they contradict religious doctrine. Faith is a choice. A choice which I respect, but it is not something someone is born with. You choose to believe. You do not choose the location of your birth, your race, your gender or your sexuality – these characteristics are innate. It is not acceptable for one person’s faith, even if enforced by a state, to remove the rights of an individual whether they are part of the same faith or not.

Ask a hungry person if they would refuse food, or a sick person healthcare, the oppressed the right to vote, or any individual equal protection under law. In the face of humanity’s history, human rights can only be considered universal.

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This entry was posted on 01/05/2012 by in Human Rights.
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