Human Rights and Relativism

REAL WORLD JUSTICE: GROUNDS, PRINCIPLES, HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS AND INSTITUTIONS, pp. 265-283, A. Føllesdal and T. Pogge, eds., Springer

19 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2010

Date Written: 2005

Abstract

Few governments today admit that they violate central human rights such as freedom of speech, or prohibitions against slavery and torture. Violations of human rights are denied or excused, but seldom defended (Schachter 1982: 336). The Bangkok Declaration of 1993 changed this. In this declaration, representatives of Asian states dismissed civil and political rights as contrary to “Asian values.” Their statement has received much attention, particularly since it appeared immediately prior to the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights. Human rights are universal and critical norms constraining the allocation and exercise of state power, so it should come as no surprise that some governments object to human rights. The Bangkok Declaration insists that states have the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights, and the primary responsibility to remedy human rights violations. It falls to the government to determine trade-offs where appropriate, and to secure rights through such institutions as each government decides. Human rights must be considered in the context of a dynamic and evolving process of international norm-setting, bearing in mind the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds. The Declaration insisted, in short, that national sovereignty entails noninterference in the internal affairs of the State, including the “non-use of human rights as an instrument of political pressure.”

Keywords: human rights, relativism, The Bangkok Declaration of 1993

Suggested Citation

Follesdal, Andreas, Human Rights and Relativism (2005). REAL WORLD JUSTICE: GROUNDS, PRINCIPLES, HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS AND INSTITUTIONS, pp. 265-283, A. Føllesdal and T. Pogge, eds., Springer. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1682111

Andreas Follesdal (Contact Author)

Pluricourts ( email )

P.O. Box 6706
St. Olavs plass 5
0130 Oslo
Norway

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