Are Human Rights Universal?

Whether human rights are universal or culturally relative has been highly debated for decades. Increasingly, there are have been a large number of individuals and societies who oppose the notion that all human rights are universal. To protect the universe and those living among it from tragedies such as genocide, war, and domestic violence, it is critical that all nations abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration of Human Rights was drafted in 1948 to recognize the dignity and unalienable rights of all members.

This document was created to serve as a foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. In order to promote the development of friendly relations between nations, it is essential that all nations cooperate with the declaration. To say that all countries abide by the Declaration would not only be naïve, but simply false. But to declare that Human Rights are not universal would prevent further growth to a peaceful universe. Slavery was legal for over 2,000 years before it was outlawed.

The Declaration of Human Rights was only written roughly 50 years ago. Change for the better is a process, not an instant solution. Those who disagree that human rights are universal believe that human rights are relative based on your culture. This idea says that different cultures have different moral codes. What is thought right within one group may be utterly abhorrent to the members of another group, and vice versa. (Rachels, 1) Although this is a valid statement, it is irrelevant that conditions are different.

The intention of Universal Human Rights is still the same. If it was truly necessary that we, as people, accept cultural relativism than why was the Declaration of Human Rights created in the first place? If we simply ignored abuse in other cultures just because it was not our own, slavery would still exist. There would still be a Holocaust. According to Pannikar in the article, Is_ The Notion of Human Rights a Western Concept?_ “Either the notion of Universal Human Rights is a western notion or it is not.”

Many believe that it is a Western, or American concept. But of all 200-sum countries, how could that be? Most notably, countries in Africa and the Middle East are the main violators of Human Rights. As a personal example, if I did not have Human Rights, I would not have the right to my opinion in this essay. I would not have the right to education, or to choose my spouse. Or I may be a victim of rape, or genital mutilation. Women living in countries who are deeply violated may not experience these rights in this present day, but it is still their right.

The world is constantly evolving, progressing, and creating awareness. Just because these rights are not enforced among some countries, does not mean they do not exist. Consider domestic abuse. Domestic abuse happens everywhere, no matter where you go. That doesn’t mean it’s not illegal. In America, burning your wife with acid, or beating her as punishment for everyday occurrences like they do in Pakistan, may not be as common. However, to say that women’s rights aren’t abused everywhere is not true. Most countries have strict policies against subjects such as these, and require harsh circumstances for those who violate them.

However, some countries do not require consequences for these actions. That is the difference. Therefore, it is essential that we as humans differentiate human rights as a universal concept from the enforcement of those rights in certain parts of the world. The Universal Declaration of Independence is still developing and improving and has made a tremendous amount of improvement since it was created. As humans, although we can expect to see further progression of the articles listed in the Declaration of Human Rights we can agree that human rights are universal.