Human Rights Ethical Debates Relating to Human Rights Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Human Rights Ethical Debates Relating to Human Rights Deck (8)
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Economic, Developmental and Cultural Challenges to the Universality of Human Rights


Human Rights abuses occur globally and attempts to rationalise these are frequently based on economic, developmental and cultural justifications.

  1. Economic
    Human Rights abuses often occur when economic conditions determinate or in states seeking economic advancement. For example, the Chinese Government has allowed human rights abuses to occur so that its central task of economic development is not interrupted.
  2. Developmental
    Some developing states argue that human rights are rolled out sequentially and this “economic and social rights come before political and civil liberties”. As a result, they say, states less economically developed should not be expected to provide the same political rights as those in the developed West.
  3. Religion and Culture
    Another argument is that the notion of universal human rights is a western concept with little place in some societies and cultures. This debate argues that Western notions of human rights are excessively individualistic as opposed to the stress of the family of Asian societies and insufficiently supportive of religion. Thus Asian and other societies should not be subject to the same standards of human rights as those in the West. But is this cultural relativism or an excuse for repression.

The Principle of Universality Verses Religion


The notion that human rights are universal has been challenged by many religious practices. This is true of the Muslim world, which has continually been used by the Western Media to highlight the denigration of human rights.
Freedom House’s annual comparative survey stated that only two Muslim-majority states were ‘free’, 17 partly free and 60% not free.
There is a historical basis to these results: Saudi Arabia was one of eight states which abstained from adopting the UN 1948 UDHR. Riyadh abstained on the basis that it gave freedom to change and practice the religion of one’s choice, which contravenes tenants of Islam, which generally does not permit apostasy (atheism) and a number of Saudi laws forbid the practice of other religions.
Some Muslims also contend that they are the victims of a cultural bias and that traditional Muslim customs towards women encourage modesty and family stability.
Blanket criticisms of the treatment of women within Islamic states are also misplaced since women are treated differently in different Muslim societies.

It is also important to note that Muslim women cannot necessarily be cast as global victims, many Muslim women accept Muslim customs as a way of asserting their identity.


Justifications for Humanitarian and Armed Intervention

Humanitarian intervention definition?


Humanitarian intervention refers to action by one state or group of states in the territory of another state, normally without the consent of the latter, undertaken on humanitarian grounds or in order to restore constitutional governance.


Justifications for Humanitarian and Armed Intervention

Debate Overview?


A- The question is: should military Intervention be permissible when governments on a mass scale violate the human rights of their citizens, when governments are unable to prevent such violations, or if states have collapsed into civil war and anarchy?

Integral to the idea of humanitarian intervention is that of human society. This focuses on the political and moral risks or protecting disaffected and abused peoples.

Humanitarian intervention was well supported in the 1990’s, the ‘golden era of humanitarian activism”, where interventions occurred in Iraq, Somalia, and Kosovo.

  1. Given that international law does not allow states the use of force except in instances of self-defence, should humanitarian intervention be exempt from this ban? The very notion of intervention works against the basic principles of international society, state sovereignty, non-intervention and non-use of force.
  2. If it can be decided that intervention is necessary, who should be the appropriate agent to engage in such intervention.
  3. Ultimately, do states have a responsibility to intervene in domestic affairs of others in order to remedy human rights abuses?
  4. How bad does the situation need to be to allow force to be used?

Justifications for Humanitarian and Armed Intervention

The arguments for Intervention?


i) Humanitarian intervention does not breach Article 2(4) of the UN charter because it only prohibits the use of force against the “political independence” and “territorial integrity” of states, which humanitarian intervention does not do. This is because the claim to sovereignty falls where R2P is invoked.

ii) The International community has a moral responsibility to intervene to protect civilians from genocide and mass killings.
>When states fail in their duties to protect citizens then they lose their sovereign rights; “the state that claims sovereignty deserves respect only as long as it protects the basic rights of its subjects…when it violates them the state’s claim to full sovereignty falls”(Scott Hoffman).

iii) A globalised world means that instability and human rights violations in one part of the world can spread to every other, an idea championed by Tony Blair.
>The UN Security Council has built on this notion by continually expanding the list of what counts as a threat to peace to include human suffering, the overthrow of democratic government, state failure, refugee movement and ethnic cleansing.


Justifications for Humanitarian and Armed Intervention

The arguments against intervention?


The case against intervention is based on the following arguments:

i) The UN Charter only makes exception for the use of force in the right of individual and collective self-defence.
ii) The greater common good is preserved by maintaining the ban on the use of force. Allowing Humanitarian intervention will only encourage the use of force and thus threatens global peace and security.
iii) Intervention is rarely driven purely by humanitarian factors and thus leads to selectivity in responses by states. Compare that of NATO in Kosovo and lack of response in Darfur.
iv) What constitutes extreme human rights violations? There is no defined or specific benchmark to be used
v) A state’s citizens should not be harmed to protect foreigners. An example of this argument can be seen in the reluctance to commit troops and money to protect Rwandans in 1994, ultimately allowing over 800,000 people to be killed in 100 days.


The Responsibility to protect Doctrine

At the 2005 world Summit the General Assembly stated:


“Each individual state has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This ‘Responsibility to protect’ entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means”

“The International Community, through the UN, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and the Charter to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”


The Responsibility to protect Doctrine

  1. In essence, if a state fails to protect its citizens from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity, the international community (the UN and all the states of the world and multilateral organisations) has an obligation to intervene and protect said peoples.
  2. According to the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, military intervention based on the Just Cause Threshold “is an exceptional and extraordinary measure. To be warranted, there must be (the following types) of serious and irreparable harm occurring to human beings, or imminently likely to occur…
    a) Large Scale loss of life, actual or apprehended, with genocide intent or not, which is the product either of deliberate state action, or state neglect or inability to act, or a failed state situation:
    b) Large scale ethnic cleansing, actual or apprehended, whether carried out by killing, forced expulsion, acts of terror or rape”.