The Transformation of Africa: A Critique of the Rights Discourse

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

27 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2009 Last revised: 9 Feb 2010

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Transformation, Africa, post-colonial state, human rights, universality, post-colonial thinkers, liberalism, democracy, ideology of human rights, legitimacy

Suggested Citation

Mutua, Makau, The Transformation of Africa: A Critique of the Rights Discourse (2009). 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, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1526734

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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