Who Defines Human Rights? The Complex Realities Across Cultures

What are "human rights"? They refer to basic rights and freedoms that all people deserve just for being human

What are “human rights”? They refer to basic rights and freedoms that all people deserve just for being human

What are “human rights”? They refer to basic rights and freedoms that all people deserve just for being human. For example – the right to food, housing, free speech, fair treatment, etc. The goal is to protect human dignity.  

In 1948, the United Nations wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to define these rights that everyone should have. However, countries still don’t agree on what counts as a “right” or an “abuse” of rights.

Different Cultures, Different Values

Human rights clashes often happen between Western countries like the USA and European nations versus Asian or Middle Eastern ones. Western societies tend to prioritize civil rights like free speech over economic rights like housing. Some Asian cultures view rights differently – for them, rights to food, jobs, and healthcare are more important. 

So who gets to determine if a country like China or Saudi Arabia violates rights? Can America tell Saudi Arabia that restricting speech goes against human rights? Or can China tell America that not providing healthcare to all citizens goes against their rights?

The Problem of Judging from Afar 

Often, Western countries are quick to accuse non-Western cultures of violating rights without much proof. They point to stories of restrictions in China or women’s inequality in the Middle East. However, these judgments frequently lack nuance or deeper understanding.

Moreover, the West disregards its own human rights problems – minority mistreatment, police brutality, homelessness, unaffordable healthcare, etc. They use “human rights violations” as a tool to paint rival countries as evil while ignoring similar issues at home.

Before making accusations about other societies, Western nations must reflect inwardly with the same rigour. Judge not lest ye be judged.

Building Mutual Understanding

Since different cultures define rights differently, no nation can impose its values system onto others. Societies must have space to uphold their traditional ways of living informed by centuries of wisdom. 

Therefore, instead of finger-pointing from a distance, world leaders should promote open discussion between cultures. Through dialogue, countries can share their unique perspectives on human rights and dignity. From there, they can find shared ground rather than just criticizing.

Over time, mutual understanding can blossom into a shared global vision for protecting humanity’s Nobel essence. One where all voices are heard, not just the political bullies judging from their figurative balconies.

About Freelance writer

As a passionate freelance writer, I delve into the intricacies of human rights, work-life balance, and labour rights to illuminate the often overlooked aspects of our societal fabric. With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to social justice, I navigate the complexities of these crucial topics, aiming to foster awareness and inspire change.

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