Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Understanding Human Rights

Today's lecture on Human Rights was interesting. More than the professor talking, he invited us to share our views on the paper we had read and the topic of discussion for this week: foundation of human rights.  The paper was on by James Donnelly which proposed different opposing views of human dignity as the foundation of human rights.  From the sharing of my fellow students it was clear where we stand with regard to this topic.

Most of those from the West, had differing views and questions on the notion of dignity and the theoretical and linguistic nuances of the word or formulations.  One frankly compared the 'binding' dimension of these rights to slavery: being a human one is bound to these rights - even though no one would want to forgo these rights - but one is not free to reject them.  Those from the middle-east were concerned with the various interpretations of the words and formulations.  Some from Asia were rather clear that all of this search for foundations was a waste of time.  Rather, they said, we should straight away get to the implementation of the rights. One from the African continent, rightly and very honestly shared his confusion.  He said he was not sure of anything at all, because the same word 'dignity' meant different things for different people, of different religions, tribes, locations, ethnic groups ... all of the same place!  So which meaning and which interpretation was the one to be agreed upon was all too much for him.

On my part, I realize that the word 'human rights' invokes different thoughts and feelings for different people.  Based on our experience and background it takes different dimensions.  I felt that coming from a background wherein the acknowledgement of these rights is passionately sought after, it is this that flavours my readings...

However, the more one studies this notion, the more intriguing it gets.  

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