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[afro-nets] Food for no-nonsense straight thoughts
- From: Claudio Schuftan <email@example.com>
- Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2007 20:43:42 +0700
Food for no-nonsense straight thoughts
Human Rights Reader 152
JONSSON'S CREDO* (part 1 of 2)
[A compilation of bare-bones Human Rights truisms]
Some general truisms:
1. A human right is both a right to something and a right
2. Human rights (HR) dignify rather than victimize or patronize
people... plus they make people more powerful as claimants.
3. But in spite of the fact that HR constitute the very
foundation of the UN, the organization did not take a lead in
promoting HR during its first 40 years of existence (!).
4. According to the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of
HR, all basic needs should be recognized as HR. But not all
needs are rights --all HR merely reflect basic human needs.
5. Basic needs are about having while HR are about being.
Ethics and Human Rights:
6. The strongest argument for the universality of HR has been
the idea of non-ethnocentric global ethics, including a set of
7. One way to safeguard HR as moral standards has been to codify
them into HR instruments or covenants.
8. But moral standards change over time; they are made by people
for people. They reflect shared values in a given era.
(Historically, though, these moral standards have been imposed
by the ruling elites or the church).
9. HR being human constructs means that new rights will be
constructed and gradually codified.
10. Ergo, introducing HR means sharing moral indignation about
the injustices in the world.
Democracy, Human Rights and Development:
11. Human rights, democracy and development have one thing in
common: they all represent un-achievable aspirations. Most
countries purport to strive towards these goals. Of the three,
development is the least threatening concept for existing power
structures; HR can be realized progressively, but democracy is
threatening to many.
12. HR and democracy are independent, true, but are bound by a
pursuit of a common agenda.
13. Interestingly, democracy is never mentioned in the UN
14. Development is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for
the realization of HR.
15. The realization of HR is a necessary, but not sufficient
condition for human development.
16. If all HR are realized, we have democracy. HR can only be
realized in a democracy. The MDGs require both!
17. The Right to Development is a right to a particular process
of development in which all HR can be progressively realized.
18. The Right to Development is a right to a process, but it is
also a right to the outcome of the process. It is not either/or,
it is both.
19. Sustainable human development calls for pursuing both
democracy and HR.
20. Compared to democracy, HR hold a very powerful institutional
position in the international stage. HR have recognition,
international legitimacy and are ruled by binding agreements
monitored by UN bodies.
21. HR standards can be met in a non-democratic country.
Benevolent authoritarianism is undesirable, but is better than
non-benevolent forms of government.
Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City
* Adapted from Urban Jonsson, "A human rights-based approach to
programming (HRBAP)", final draft, UNICEF, N.Y., 25 June 2004.