Human Rights Theory

Sarah Murray
Mind Map by Sarah Murray, updated more than 1 year ago
Sarah Murray
Created by Sarah Murray about 5 years ago
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Mind Map on Human Rights Theory, created by Sarah Murray on 09/15/2016.

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Human Rights Theory
  1. Jack Donnelly
    1. Donnelly explicates and defends the universality of HR. He does NOT argue that HR are timeless, unchanging, or absolute - rather he argues that the particularity of HR is compatible with a conception of HR as universal rights.
      1. HR are equal rights - either you are or are not a human being and therefor has the same rights as everyone else (or none)
        1. HR are inalienable rights - one cannot stop being human, no matter how they behave or how they are treated
          1. HR are universal rights - today we consider all members of the homo sapien species human beings, therefore they all hold rights
            1. Three major forms of social interaction re: rights can be distinguished: Assertive exercise - right is exercised (claimed), activating the obligations of the duty-bearer, who then respects the right or violates it -- Active respect - duty-bearer takes the right into account in determining how to behave, without the right-holder ever claiming the right -- • Objective enjoyment - rights apparently never enter the equation, neither right-holder or duty-bearer gives them any thought - the right has been enjoyed
            2. Mark Gibney
              1. Where HR has failed is in coming to terms with the fact that HR violations are perpetrated not only by governments but also through the actions/inactions of other states, institutions (TNCs), and even IOs • Due to this, HR addresses the "wrongs" done by a state to its own population but is incapable of addressing the "wrongs" committed by a state against a foreign population
                1. Gibney calls for a return to core universal principles - universality meaning that states are responsible for the HR violations they carry out within their own borders AND they are responsible for violating HR outside their own borders (I.e. USA in Guantanamo Bay)
                  1. Presents four steps to improve HR protection around the world: (1) responsibility (western world doesn't think HR are for them) -- (2) territory (we see rights as bound by borders) -- (3) accountability (hold states responsible esp. to positive rights) -- (4) remedy (international civil court)
                  2. Tony Evans
                    1. The current HR discourse favours the legal approach over all others (political, cultural, economic, structural, social).
                      1. Evans "places international HR law within the context of critique in an effort to explain the hegemony of law within the HR discourse"
                        1. The legal discourse enjoys the dominant role while the political discourse is marginalized, and the philosophical discourse has atrophied - this privileges the legal discourse as the sole source of truth-claims for the global HR regime
                          1. The habit of understand HR as a single discourse obscures ongoing disagreements and conflicts within HR - gives the illusion of concord that is at odds with social movements and social protests
                          2. David Forsythe
                            1. Four themes emerge in the book: (1) • International concern with HR is not going anywhere -- (2) • Need to appreciate HR as important and pervasive soft law (not just occasional hard law) -- • Private parties (as well as states) merit extensive attention -- • The notion of state sovereignty is undergoing fundamental changes - with the "final" form difficult to discern
                              1. proceeds on the central assumption that making the progress toward human rights is most viable through non-judicial action. That is to say, one can make advances on human rights apart from courts and hard law
                              2. Stephen Hopgood
                                1. HR attempt to be a universal global power but it emerged from a particular historical period, for a particular purpose, and with a particular (western, liberal) value system that are no longer necessary in a multipolar world. Intl. HR institutions have become bureaucracies that self-perpetuate themselves in an attempt to survive irrelevance. They are unsuited to their tasks BUT there is still hope for people concerned with humanity - look to activists working in their own locales and communities rather than the western-led HR organisations for hope.
                                  1. Universal HR served a specific historical purpose - to inspire a sense of secular religiosity/sacredness among the emerging middle class in modernizing Europe (1). It was an antidote to the troubling contradiction between progress and intensifying violence, social and economic inequalities, and fears of disenchantment. BUT the purpose has become defunct and the institutions created to perform it "now serve as self-perpetuating global structures of intermittent power that mask their lack of democratic authority and systematic ineffectiveness" (1)
                                    1. Human Rights (upper case) ‘is a global structure of laws, courts, norms, and organizations that raise money, write reports, run international campaigns, open local offices, lobby governments, and claim to speak with singular authority in the name of humanity as a whole' (ix) -- • human rights (lower case) is about local communities, grassroots people the world over, who seek to expose violence and abuse and bring accountability, healing, compassion, solidarity, equality and love
                                    2. Eric Posner
                                      1. Posner argues that HR has failed in its initial task ("moral obligation not to harm strangers, and possibly the moral obligation to help them if they are in need" 9) and that an international HR legal regime (treaty regime) is unable to improve the well-being of people around the world. In his concluding chapter Posner argues in favour of development economics as a means to improve the well-being in foreign countries (a method that is "empirical rather than ideological" 8)
                                        1. Posner's solution does not look to HR law but rather development economics: -- Wealthy countries can (and should) provide foreign aid to developing countries and use tools of coercion if necessary (based on a rough sense of whether the aid or coercion will enhance the well-being of the population) (148) -- This should be done irrespective of whether the government complies with HR treaties - HR treaties should be abandoned
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