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Human Rights Master - Essay Example

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Human Rights Master

As these principles aim to universalise the concept of 'human rights' under Western-centred traditions, many contend that these ideals do not bestow rights to cultural minorities at all to practice their own customs and traditions especially when some aspects of their culture 'violate' the principles of the 'universality of rights.' The supposed 'maltreatment' of women in some Islamic cultures for instance, especially those that practice 'fundamentalism' and view women as 'unequal' with men, becomes a predicament for the proponents of liberalism and its underlying dogma as this violates its egalitarian principles with regards gender. Other liberalists contend that human rights are universal and its ideals are evident in the cultures of the minority. Still, cultural relativists have criticised the UN Declaration as too ethnocentric - one which only strives to perpetuate Western democratic ideas of human rights and equality, focusing mainly on individuality. In addition, various cultural norms and practices violate the principles of international human rights while the UN Declaration equally conflicts with some religious and cultural practices of several cultural groups. Hence, a reassertion of these liberal principles is significant in order to clarify if, indeed, under the liberalists thought, cultures are afforded and can be endowed rights and if these rights conflict with the universal ideals of human rights.
The most notable assertion with regards this issue was introduced by Will Kymlicka who contends that the fundamental principles of liberalism obliges for the recognition of the rights of a group to protect cultural minorities.1 Kymlicka asserts that these principles do not violate the doctrines of liberalism; rather, he believes that liberals have to come to the defence of the minority cultures within the multicultural state. This does not project a nationalist belief but rather a reassertion of the minority rights within the larger context of the society; yet, Kymlicka also shares the view that cultures must be afforded rights to public expression. This view partly constitutes a liberal view as he argues that that cultural minority groups require protection from decisions of the prevailing majority culture and adds that the minority has to make decisions on certain issues that affect or threaten some aspect of their culture. For the author, it is not discrimination when governments afford special rights to individuals and groups base on their ethnicity as these show consistency in the practices and ideals of liberalism.2 Kymlicka goes on to assert that we have to equalise the rights and the specific compensation for the disadvantages suffered by the cultural minority. In one instance, the author uses the Aborigines minority in Australia to illustrate his point affirming that the rights the government bestow to the majority of the Australians should not be similar to the rights afforded to the aborigines minority as 'they suffer different kinds of disadvantage' and thus, different 'kinds' of rights are needed in order to achieve equality.3 Kymlicka strongly argues that any contention, which fails to accord ...Show more


The concept of human rights, equality and the respect for the rights of the cultural minority stands as one of the most pervasive liberal ideal. Liberalists have not only proliferated these ideals during the previous century, proponents of the discipline have also witnessed the flourishing of liberal principles enshrined in various UN conventions especially in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, setting forth the principles which call for the respect for the rights and the preservation of cultures of minority groups…
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Human Rights Master Essay essay example
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