Human Rights Universalism and its Critics

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Upon his reflections of American foreign policy towards the end of his life, George F. Kennan admitted that he found himself "wishing that there were a bit more of morality in our concepts of what is legal, and more attention to legality in our concepts of what is moral, than I see around me at this time" (Kennan, 1985, p.


What human rights are, in a general and sweeping definition, are to defend people from "severe political, legal and social abuses." This is done in order for people to secure the necessary conditions of leading a minimally good life (Nickel et. al.: 2006, p.1, Nickel 1992, 561). From the dawn of civilization and community, the powers and limits of such powers of the governing body, groups and individuals have developed throughout the course of human history from being relegated in domestic societies to become more broadened and expanded throughout the entire world in the modern age. This was done in part to restrain human passions and actions from harming one another and to defend basic preservation of life, in what Jean Jacques Rousseau categorised as the social contract. Throughout human evolution, these rights have become more expansive and perceived to be universal in their definition and application. These rights were derived from Western historic and contemporary norms, and faced criticism and defence to the universality of such rights. Critics debate that human rights definitions were Western creations and Western attempts at Westernising legal, social and moral faculties. ...
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