The Dichotomy between Cultural Relativism and Universalism: A Case for Universalism in the Application of International Human Rights Standards in Post-colonial Africa
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This thesis critically examines the rift between cultural relativism and universalism in international human rights discourse with specific reference to human rights violations in Africa. It specifically makes the case for universalism, holding that certain core human rights values are generally cross-cultural and must apply to all contemporary societies, notwithstanding the popular contention in the Global South that human rights are alien to no-Western societies, considering that they principally originated from the Judeo-Christian tradition which is allegedly incompatible with non-Western culture. Furthermore, the fact that human rights have emerged as effective mechanisms for the ultimate protection of human dignity, in addition to the emerging evidence of an engulfing cosmopolitan culture, makes them appropriate for cross-cultural application. Finally, this thesis argues that the archaic conceptualization of culture— which infuses our understanding of the rights concept—as a static set of homogeneous patterns and beliefs is increasingly obsolete and, thus, largely immaterial.
- Dichotomy, cultural relativism, universalism, post-colonial Africa, human dignity, human rights violations, legal positivism, human rights standards, natural law, natural rights, human rights theory, pre-modern and modern conceptions of rights, human rights movements, internationalization of human rights, human rights concept and practice, universality, League of Nations, freedom from fear, freedom from wants, freedom of religion, Age of Enlightenment, Medieval Europe, tripartite division of human rights, evolution of human rights, the dominant African perspective on human rights, female genital mutilation, genocide, carnage in Darfur, dictatorship, rule of law, International Criminal Court, universal moral convergence, state sovereignty, responsibility to protect, international humanitarian intervention, regionalization of human rights standards, universalism as a necessity, roots of cultural relativism and universalism debate
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