Human Rights and Human Norms

A prevailing debate between the Universality of Human Rights and Cultural Relativism

Essay, 2009

7 Pages


Human Rights and Human Norms:

A prevailing debate between the Universality of Human Rights and Cultural Relativism

After the Second World War, a Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) evolved as an act for freedom and equality. The UDHR was held by many politicians and representatives from many countries, with different cultures and religions, including the “United States, United Kingdom, Iran, China, Egypt, and France”, to intersect one main matter. This cosmo-political act is to insure that Human and civil Rights are applicable to all nations and regions all over the globe. However in 1981, Iranian representative in the United Nations Said Rajaie-Khorassani claimed that the declaration of human rights was based on Jewish-Christian beliefs and cultures, and could not be tolerated by the Islamic people, and their traditions (Littman, 2003). Countries like Iran claim that human rights are established fundamentally on a Western moral. Iran makes a very perfect example on human rights violation in the Middle East, all the way from freedom of thought, speech, and religion, to sexual discrimination. Moreover, in the Far East, former prime minister of Singapore and former prime minister of Malaysia, Lee Kuan Yew and Mahathir bin Mohamad, stated that it is much more important to achieve social stability in the state than to maintain democracy, and having an authoritarian government is more significant than achieving individual freedom. Certainly every nation has its own laws and regulations. Besides every region has its own traditions and values. But when it comes to human rights, it is a universal privilege that humanity has to possess. The universality of human rights is to hunt down all the inhumane and barbaric actions made and done by state leaders and mainly dictators. Cultural relativists claim that this universality is considered cultural imperialism, dominating the world culture and ruining all kinds of ethnic norms and traditions.

The universal declaration of human rights is often rejected by some ethnic tyrannies and cultural relativists such as Iran, China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. The main issue here is not to uphold a system with its own ethnic mores, traditions, but first to understand that human and civil rights are a universal principal that should be on the top of the priority list. It is not just a privilege that relies on region, religion, or political standing. Human and civil rights are benefits and freedoms that are applied universally to all, without any kind of barriers. That is the keynote terminology of the UDRH, a “universal” organization. Some of the most basic rights posted by the Universal Declaration of human rights are the freedom of expression and speech, equality, political and civil freedom, and the freedom of clean food and water. Opponents against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights claim that it is westernized and its origin is based on a narrow foundation.

Middle Eastern opponents in 1990 founded the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam (CDHRI). It was established as a counter-act to the UDHR. It is based on the Islamic Shariah. Creating an exceptional organization oppose the main theme of the human rights act. The CDHRI is established on discrimination; it is only based on Islamic shariah. The universal declaration cannot discriminate people according to their religion. On the other hand, the far eastern region did not provide themselves with their own declaration. Their viewpoint is the elimination of freedom to maintain social civilian stability The assumption of cultural relativism, and the evil cause of the universality of human rights, as it is really a “cultural imperialist” act, is totally irrelevant. These false accusations stated by rulers are made just to alienate the people from the main cause and benefit of human rights, as these human rights protocols could reduce a rulers power, and their suppression on the state. And by facts, it is obvious that the people, mainly in the Middle East are not very pleased with the oppressiveness and tyrannical system.


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Human Rights and Human Norms
A prevailing debate between the Universality of Human Rights and Cultural Relativism
American University of Sharjah
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Hijab, Sexism, Human Rights, Women Rights, UDHR, Cultural Imerpialism, Cultural relativism, democracy, Freedom, discrimination, Iran, Homa Darabi, Freedom of speech, Minority Rights, United Nations
Quote paper
Mohamed El Nazer (Author), 2009, Human Rights and Human Norms, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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