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The Universality of the Concept of Human Rights
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 506, Human Rights around the World (Nov., 1989), pp. 10-16
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. in association with the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1046650
Page Count: 7
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Debate about the universality of human rights requires definition of "human rights" and even of "universality." The idea of human rights is related but not equivalent to justice, the good, democracy. Strictly, the conception is that every individual has legitimate claims upon his or her society for defined freedoms and benefits; an authoritative catalog of rights is set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The rights of the Universal Declaration are politically and legally universal, having been accepted by virtually all states, incorporated into their own laws, and translated into international legal obligations. Assuring respect for rights in fact, however, will require the continued development of stable political societies and of the commitment to constitutionalism. Virtually all societies are also culturally receptive to those basic rights and human needs included in the Universal Declaration that reflect common contemporary moral intuitions. Other rights, however - notably, freedom of expression, religious and ethnic equality, and the equality of women - continue to meet deep resistance.
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science © 1989 American Academy of Political and Social Science