The Ideology of Human Rights

70 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2009

Date Written: 1996


This piece argues that although human rights is an ideology although it presents itself as non-ideological, non-partisan, and universal. It contends that the human rights corpus, taken as a whole, as a document of ideals and values, particularly the positive law of human rights, requires the construction of states to reflect the structures and values of governance that derive from Western liberalism, especially the contemporary variations of liberal democracy practiced in Western democracies. Viewed from this perspective, the human rights regime has serious and dramatic implications for questions of cultural diversity, the sovereignty of states, and the universality of human rights.

Keywords: Liberalism, democracy, human rights, conceptualizers, political participation, ideology, culture, autonomy, doctrine, NGOs, instrumentalism

Suggested Citation

Mutua, Makau, The Ideology of Human Rights (1996). Virginia Journal of International Law, Vol. 36, 1996, Available at SSRN:

Makau Mutua (Contact Author)

SUNY Buffalo Law School ( email )

626 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States
716 645-2311 (Phone)

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