In conceptual terms, human rights laws are universal in nature but whether they are really universal in practice is a question of research. A small portion of this paper covers the historical debates on the understanding and implementation of universalism in western philosophical order and the fundamental problems associated with Asian discursive practices. In the case of the latter, due to regional relativism, the western version of universalism cannot be put to practice, as evident in the critique from several Asian countries of what they regarded as western values expressed in the Universal Declaration of human rights, 1948. When it comes to India, it is a known fact that it is a country rich with diversity, deep cultural values and multitudinous ethnicities. Against this diversity, the concept of universalism loses firm ground and other factors overpower. All these cultural differences, historical developments and evolving conceptualisations of human rights gradually lead to an Indian interpretation and understanding in the expanse of human rights. An overview of the shaping of human rights as a concept and praxis would reveal how momentous changes have been taking place through judicial intervention and global world watch. This paper captures the trajectory of expansion in the field of human rights and implementation mechanisms through judicial intervention and activism to attain the values of universalism in the national and International legal framework
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Dec. 10, 1948, GA Res 217A (III).
Id. Article 2.
Jack Donnelly, Cultural Relativism and Universal Human Rights, 6(4) HUM. RTS. Q. 400, at 414-415 (1984).
István Lakatos, Thoughts on Universalism versus Cultural Relativism, with Special Attention to Women’s Rights, 1 PÉCS J. INT. EUR. LAW 6, 16 (2018).
Navanethem Pillay, Are Human Rights Universal?, 45(3) UN CHRONICLE 4, 5 (2009).
Dianne Otto, Rethinking the ‘Universality’ of Human Rights Law, 29 COLUM. HUM. RTS. L. REV. 1, 8 (1997).
Karen Musalo, When Rights and Cultures Collide, SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY (Nov. 12, 2015), https://www.scu.edu/ethics/ethics-resources/ethical-decision-making/when-rights-and-cultures-collide/
MICHAEL FREEMAN, HUMAN RIGHTS 126 (Polity Press 2010).
Dembour, M. B. (2006). Who believes in human rights? Reflections on the European Convention. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
REIN MÜLLERSON, HUMAN RIGHTS DIPLOMACY 84-85 (Routledge 1997).
Fred Halliday, Relativism and Universalism in Human Rights: The Case of the Islamic Middle East, 43(1) POL. STUD. 152, 162 (1995).
United Nations Human Rights Commission, 1989, Consideration of Report Submitted by State Parties under Article 40 of the Covenant. Second Periodic Report 1985. U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/37/Add. 13.
Martha C. Nussbaum, Human Functioning and Social Justice, In Defense of Aristotelian Essentialism, 20(2) POL. THEORY 202, 224 (1992); Michael J. Perry, Are Human Rights Universal? The Relativist Challenge and Related Matters, 19(3) HUM. RTS. Q. 461, 471–75 (1997); ELVIN HATCH, CULTURE AND MORALITY: THE RELATIVITY OF VALUES IN ANTHROPOLOGY chap. 7 (Columbia University Press 1983); and KWASI WIREDU, CULTURAL UNIVERSALS AND PARTICULARS chaps. 3, 6 (Indiana University Press 1996).
General Assembly Third Committee Seventy-Third Session, 29th and 30th Meetings (AM & PM) Relativist Claims on Culture Do Not Absolve States from Human Rights Obligations, Third Committee Expert Says as Delegates Denounce Country-Specific Mandates.
Elizabeth M. Zechenter, In the Name of Culture: Cultural Relativism and the Abuse of the Individual, 53(3) J. ANTHROPOL. RES. 319, 322 (1997).
Andreas Kronenberg, Where are the Barbarians? Ethnocentrism Versus the Illusion of Cultural Universalism: The Answer of an Anthropologist to a Philosopher, 7(3) ULTIMATE REAL MEAN 233, 233 (1984).
Fernand de Varennes, The Fallacies in the "Universalism Versus Cultural Relativism" Debate in Human Rights Law, 7(1) ASIA PAC. J. HUM. RTS. & L. 67, 70 (2006).
Roger Lloret Blackburn, Cultural Relativism in the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council, UPR INFO (Sep. 2011), https://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/general-document/pdf/-blackburn_upr_cultural_relativism.09.2011.pdf
Exec. Comm., Am. Anthropological Ass'n, Statement on Human Rights, 49 AM. ANTHROPOLOGIST 539, 543 (1947).
Vaibhav Goel et al., Some Cultural Aspects Behind the Legacy of Homosexuality: A Human Rights Study, 73(1) INDIAN J. POL. SCI. 29, 37 (2012).
HENRY J. STEINER, ET AL., INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS IN CONTEXT: LAW, POLITICS AND MORALS, 517-518 (Oxford University Press 2008).
Shveta Dhaliwal, Cultural Relativism: Relevance to Universal and Regional Human Rights Monitoring, 72(3) INDIAN J. POL. SCI. 635, 635 (2011).
Chung-Shu Lo, Human Rights in the Chinese Tradition, in Human Rights: Comments and Interpretations, at 187.
Gandhi's Letter Addressed to the Director-General of UNESCO, the Committee's report, the questionnaire, and the responses are collected in UNESCO, Human Rights: Comments and Interpretations, Appendix I, Appendix II, U.N. Doc. UNESCO/PHS/3(rev.) (1984).
WORLD CONFERENCE ON HUMAN RIGHTS, VIENNA, (1993) - THE REAL WORLD OF HUMAN RIGHTS, Singapore government press release, 20/jun/09/01/93, Media division, ministry of Information and Arts Statement by Mr. Wong Kan Sang, Foreign affair minister, Singapore, https://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/data/pdfdoc/19930616-MFA.pdf
Rhoda Howard, Human Rights and Personal Law: Women in Sub-Saharan Africa, 12(1/2) AFR. REFUG. HUM. RTS. 45, 45 (1982).
Paul Healy, Human rights and intercultural relations: a hermeneutico-dialogical approach, 32(4) PHIL. & SOC. CRIT. 513, 514, 518 (2006).
Adewale Rotimi, Violence in the family: A Preliminary Investigation and Overview of Wife Battering in Africa, 9(1) J. INT’L WOMEN’S STUD. 234, 234 (2007).
Francesca Rivelli, South Sudan/Gender-Based Violence Research on Sexual Assault: Maban County, South Sudan. DANISH REFUGEE COUNCIL (August 2015), https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/GBV%20Report%20Maban%2C%20August%202015.pdf
Lisa Baldez, Why Not Amend CEDAW?, THE GENDER POLICY REPORT (Nov. 28, 2018), https://genderpolicyreport.umn.edu/why-not-amend-cedaw/
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Copyright (c) 2023 Lex Humana (ISSN 2175-0947)