The Transformation of Africa: A Critique of the Rights Discourse
Makau W. Mutua
State University of New York at Buffalo Law School
HUMAN RIGHTS AND DIVERSITY: INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT, p. 899, Felipe Gomez Isa and Koen de Feyter, eds., University of Deusto , Bilbao, 2009
Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-002
This article explores the complexity of the African post-colonial state and interrogates the wisdom of deploying the human rights idiom as the panacea of the conceptual and structural challenges that haunt Africa. Although the piece does not jettison the utility of rights as a medium for social change, it is deeply skeptical about one-dimensional approaches to creating productive societies. The article questions the historical and ideological bases for the human rights project and wonders how an enterprise so steeped in one cultural milieu can be universalized without cross-fertilization and multi-culturalization. Besides, it expresses misgivings about the conceptual incompleteness of the human rights project. It asks how a distorted human rights enterprise can in turn recover distorted societies without acknowledging, understanding, and addressing those distortions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: Transformation, Africa, post-colonial state, human rights, universality, post-colonial thinkers, liberalism, democracy, ideology of human rights, legitimacyAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: December 23, 2009 ; Last revised: February 9, 2010
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