Toward a New Human Rights Paradigm: Integrating Hitherto Neglected Traditional Values into the Corpus of Human Rights and the Legitimacy Question
62 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2014 Last revised: 16 Feb 2015
Date Written: February 2, 2014
The vitriolic nature of the attack unleashed at the on-going debate at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on integrating theretofore neglected traditional values into the corpus of human rights hardly elicits surprise. The attack reflects quite strongly the age-long divide regarding the appropriate conceptualization of human rights – as universal or culture-specific. Deniers of universality have long maintained that because certain worldviews were not taken into account in formulating and framing foundational human rights instruments, to ascribe universality to norms resulting from such process is wrong on several fronts. Although this position raises a number of important concerns for which unraveling, exploration, and resolution are necessary for legitimizing the universality of human rights, they have largely been ignored, particularly at the international policy- and law-making fora. That is, until now. This latest development (extant UNHRC debate) raises a number of questions with significant implications for the future of global human rights protection. The most critical of these questions – and also the subject of this paper – centers on whether the integration of hitherto neglected traditional values would add legitimacy to the claim of universality of human rights.
JEL Classification: K10, K33, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation