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Universalism vs. Relativism

by: gricksecker

Universalism vs. Relativism POL2089

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2/4 Notes
International Human Rights
Dr. Rebecca Sanders
Class Notes
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by gricksecker on Sunday March 6, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POL2089 at University of Cincinnati taught by Dr. Rebecca Sanders in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 12 views. For similar materials see International Human Rights in Political Science at University of Cincinnati.

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Date Created: 03/06/16
2/4/16 Human Rights Day 5: Universality vs. Relativism I. Usually the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been tasked to enforce UN Security Council interventions o In other cases, NATO has acted independently  E.g. Kosovo (1999) o Effectiveness vs legitimacy II. Sovereignty vs Enforcement o Should international organizations be allowed to intervene in domestic affairs? III. International Criminal Law o Focused on prosecuting individuals for human rights abuses  Nuremberg Tribunals (1945-46) o Signing of the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court (1998)  ICC becomes operational in 2002 o Universal Jurisdiction  Certain crimes like torture or genocide are accountable on the international level  Augusto Pinochet – Dictator of Chile 1. Tortured and exiled dissidents, stepped down as senator to gain immunity IV. Civil Suits o Alien Tort Statue  Tort law – Who you can sue  Private citizens have the right to sue for human rights violations 1. Filartiga v. Pena-Irala V. Critiques of Human Rights o Intellectual critiques  Bentham – rights fantastical, ephemeral  Arendt – rights become abstractions detached from political communities, need citizenship for agency, disempowered human rights bearer becomes subject of charity  Schmitt – rights covers for power politics, imperialism o Despite technological human rights narrative, states not individuals granted international legal personality by post WWII o Post Cold War, tension between sovereignty and human rights VI. Ignatief o Challenges to universalism from multiple sources  Islamic world 1. Rejection of liberal individualism 2. Considerable variation – Egypt vs. Afghanistan  Western Critics 1. Marxist, post-modernist, feminist, anti-imperialist positions  East Asia 1. Asian economic development model – authoritarian growth o Human rights demands are usually bottom-up, not imposed o Human rights are negative demands for individual autonomy, not positive visions of the good Relativism vs. Universalism VII. Relativism o There cannot be a single standard for human rights o Different cultures and political communities have different visions of appropriate social order o Interpret the meanings of life differently o Assign different values to rights vs. other priorities VIII. Universalism o All people are entitled to same standard of human rights o While there are differences, there is a minimum level of rights that are universal IX. Asian Values Debate o Relativism  Kausikan – Consensus seeking 1. Economy vs. human rights 2. Poverty o Universalism  Neier – Consensus imposing 1. Tank Man 2. HR lawyers o 400 million people lifted out of poverty in china despite a non- democratic system  When there is a middle class they will want rights  Democracy took 200 years to develop in America, can’t expect it in China overnight X.


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