Discuss on Human Dignity and Human Rights Protection from the Perspective of Peacekeeping
October 27,2014   By:CSHRS



Safeguarding the rights of others is the most noble and beautiful end of a human being~Khalil Gibran

I. Introduction

Culture is a defining feature of an individual's identity. It embraces everything from traditions, beliefs and values of an individual's family and community. It is also the language one speaks, and place of worship. Culture is all of these elements and the way they connect to make up one's way of life. It is often the source for self-definition, expression, and sense of group belonging.

The debate on cultural relativism and universal human rights has been as old as the efforts to promote, secure and protect universal human rights.  This discussion has attained ever growing importance in the wake of a rapidly globalizing world.  Market forces and rapid movements of people pose a new set of challenges to both their cultural identities as well as their basic human rights.  Both need to be protected and nurtured.

Everyone has a fundamental human right to practice their distinctive way of life, their traditions, and to share in the joys of the cultural life of their community. This is the meaning of Article 27 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as other articles that affirm everyone's right to freedom of expression and opinion, association, and choice of education for one's children.

Yet, cultural distinction itself is sometimes used as grounds for denying human rights of all kinds and cultural diversity for challenging the very concept of universal human rights. This should not be presented as an either/or choice. It is a dynamic and evolving concept.

The reality is that universal human rights do not impose one cultural standard, rather one legal standard of minimum protection necessary for human dignity. This paper attempts to address four aspects of this dynamic relationship between universal human rights and cultural relativism or diversity.  First, universality and indivisibility of human rights as legally established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Second, Are these universal human rights sensitive to cultural traditions?  Third, how the treaty bodies promote reconciliation between cultural diversity and universality of human rights?  Fourth, a special focus on the right to development 
and how these aspirations are shared across all cultures.  More specifically, the tenets of sustainable development that are shared among all are preserving natural resource base and yet let people live prosperous and healthy lives.

Ⅱ.Universality and indivisibility

Largely through the ongoing work of the United Nations, the universality of human rights has been clearly established and recognized in international law. Human rights are emphasized among the purposes of the United Nations as proclaimed in its Charter, which states that human rights are "for all without distinction".

The non-discrimination principle is a fundamental rule of international law. This means that human rights are for all human beings, regardless of "race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status".  Human rights are for every human being, in every culture. They are not privileges.