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The International Significance of Human Rights

Thomas Pogge
The Journal of Ethics
Vol. 4, No. 1/2, Rights, Equality, and Liberty Universidad Torcuato Di Tella Law and Philosophy Lectures 1995-1997 (Jan. - Mar., 2000), pp. 45-69
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25115635
Page Count: 25
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The International Significance of Human Rights
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Abstract

A comparative examination of four alternative ways of understanding what human rights are supports an institutional understanding as suggested by Article 28 of the Universal Declaration: Human rights are weighty moral claims on any coercively imposed institutional order, national or international (as Article 28 confirms). Any such order must afford the persons on whom it is imposed secure access to the objects of their human rights. This understanding of human rights is broadly sharable across cultures and narrows the philosophical and practical differences between the friends of civil and political and the champions of social, economic, and cultural human rights. When applied to the global institutional order, it provides a new argument for conceiving human rights as universal - and a new basis for criticizing this order as too encouraging of oppression, corruption, and poverty in the developing countries: We have a negative duty not to cooperate in the imposition of this global order if feasible reforms of it would significantly improve the realization of human rights.

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