Jack Donnelly’s Argument That Human Rights Are of Relative Universality

Jack Donnelly’s Argument That Human Rights Are of Relative Universality

Human rights, which are largely a global political project, are strongly linked to universality claims (Donnelly, 1984). The UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) is the elementary global legal instrument regarding human rights. Jack Donnelly contends that human rights are of relative, or comparative, universality. He holds that there are many senses in which human rights may be taken as being relative. He argues that the often proclaimed ontological, as well as anthropological, universality of the rights is politically, empirically, as well as philosophically, hard to defend according to Donnelly (2003). This essay examines what Donnelly means by his claim of the relative universality of human rights and the evidence he tenders in support of the claim.

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By presenting human rights as being of relative universality, Jack Donnelly means that the rights, correctly appreciated, leave significant space for cultural, regional, and national specificity as well as other types of relativity along with diversity. Jack Donnelly means that claims that human rights are universal are either theoretically vulnerable or politically injurious, or both. He means that there is no convincing case for the rights’ universality as there are no factors that could enable the universal application of the human rights conception. He presents various sets of evidence in support of his position that human rights are all of comparative universality according to Donnelly (2007).

First, Jack Donnelly demonstrates that although human rights can be possessed universally, they are not enforced universally. The international regime of human rights is dependent on the state enforcement of human rights that are recognized globally according to Donnelly (2003). Even though the creation of norms has been globalized, the enforcement of binding norms on global human rights is almost wholly the preserve of sovereign states according to Donnelly (2003).  Almost all the supranational agencies charged with ensuring the enforcement of the norms are by and large constrained to supervising how particular states meet own obligations regarding global human rights according to Donnelly (2007). That means that the enforcement, as well as implementation, of human rights, which are universally held, consequently is markedly relative.

Second, Jack Donnelly demonstrates that historically, the enforcement, as well as implementation, of human rights, which are universally held, is markedly relative since varied societies or civilizations have varied appreciations of the wellbeing of human beings. That means that varied societies or civilizations have diverse attitudes and opinions towards issues relating to human rights according to Donnelly (2007). There is no universally appreciated human rights concept advocated for or endorsed by all humanity according to Donnelly (2003).

Third, Jack Donnelly demonstrates that human rights lack global legal universality. Some states engage in systematic breaches of human rights that are recognized globally without losing own legitimacy in the light of international law according to Donnelly (2007). Save for isolated genocide cases, sovereignty continues violate, or trump, the rights even as their safeguarding is more and more taken as a prerequisite for complete political legitimacy according to Donnelly (2003).

Jack Donnelly demonstrates that ontologically, all leading detailed doctrines have for long denied the rights actively or ignored them. Jack Donnelly holds that even though it is conceivable that various doctrines, which are objectively factual, have been misunderstood widely, their being misunderstood widely is improbable. That means that it is markedly improbable that every human right, including the human rights listed in the UDHR, is ontologically universal. Jack Donnelly submits that at best, one may establish that a detailed doctrine, which is ontologically universal, has contingently, as well as recently, sanctioned human rights as an opinionated, or political, understanding of justice according to Donnelly (2007).

Notably, Jack Donnelley’s argument that welfare states, which are characteristic of the Global North’s Western societies, are the aim towards which varied human rights guide Indeed, the two contentions are reconcilable. Largely, the states are defined by liberal democracy according to Donnelly (2007). The two arguments are not in conflict since almost every Western philosophical, or religious doctrine has for long either ignored or plainly rejected human rights but presently, most supporters of most Western wide-ranging doctrines support the rights according to Donnelly (1984) as well as Donnelly (2003). If the early Christendom defined by a hereditary aristocracy, serfdom, and crusades could turn into the present day’s social, as well as liberal, democratic welfare states, it would not be impossible to envision circumstances in which a comparable transformation would be conceivable according to Donnelly (2007).

Clearly, some regional values such as Asian values are irreconcilable with human rights that are globally recognized. The regional values have for a long time been appreciated as irreconcilable with the observance of human rights. Even then, many regional values have, for a long time, been construed in ways that that allow for their employment in supporting human rights according to Donnelly (2003). For instance, many Japanese values have, for a long time, been construed in ways that that allow for their employment in supporting human rights. Many Taiwanese values have, for a long time, been construed in ways that that allow for their employment in supporting human rights. Many South Korean values have, for a long time, been construed in ways that that allow for their employment in supporting human rights according to Donnelly (2007). Much of the recent political advancements in South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan suggest that governments and people are more and more appreciating human rights as modern-day political presentations of own profound political, cultural, and ethical aspirations and values (Donnelly, 1984).

There is no wide-ranging doctrine or culture that is naturally or otherwise either irreconcilable or reconcilable with particular human rights. This position is rather clear when appreciated in the light of the erroneous position that human rights are of anthropological universality. Regardless of their previous practices, there are not factors in traditional American, Asian, or African cultures that stop them from supporting human rights presently according to Donnelly (2007). Clearly, every culture is markedly malleable. Every comprehensive doctrine’s political appearance, or expression, is considerably malleable as well according to Donnelly (1984) as well as Donnelly (2007). It is a mere empirical concern whether or not there are members of given cultures hold up human rights as if they were political justice conceptions according to Donnelly (2007). As well, it is a mere empirical concern whether or not any comprehensive doctrine’s exponents hold up human rights as if they were political justice conceptions.

As well, the two Jack Donnelley’s contentions are reconcilable since every considerable civilization has in its history treated particular human populations as outsiders. Every considerable civilization has in its history treated particular human populations as not justified to partake in the rights or privileges or benefits available to those deemed as being insiders. Almost all civilizations have at different times broadly justified or even practiced human slavery. Every literate civilization has in much of its history ascribed particular social roles, duties, as well as roles, elementarily in line with particular ascriptive attributes, including gender and age (Donnelly, 1984).

Presently, even then, the moral sameness of every person is markedly supported by the foremost comprehensive doctrines across the globe (Donnelly, 1984). That convergence between, as well as within, civilizations offers the basis for a clear convergence on the UDHR-listed rights. Theoretically, diverse societal practices, as opposed to human rights, may offer a foundation for the actualization of elementary egalitarian values. In reality, human rights are speedily turning into the favored option, which Jack Donnelly refers to as the rights’ OCU (Overlapping Consensus Universality) according to Donnelly (2007).

Human rights, which are in principle a global political project, are strappingly linked to universality claims. Jack Donnelly argues that the often proclaimed ontological, as well as anthropological, universality of the rights is politically, empirically, as well as philosophically, hard to defend. By presenting human rights as being of comparative universality, Jack Donnelly means that there is no compelling case for the rights’ universality as there are no factors that could enable the worldwide application of the human rights notion. Jack Donnelly demonstrates that human rights lack worldwide legal universality. Remarkably, Jack Donnelly position that welfare states, which are representative of the Global North’s Western societies, are the aim towards which varied human rights guide humanity is not in conflict with his position on the side of human rights’ universality.

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