Everyone has the right to human rights

When first approaching this question, it is important to understand what a human right is. Defined by Google, it is “a right which is believed to belong to every person” and when by Amnesty International they are “the fundamental rights and freedoms that belong to every single one of us”. At first glance, one would not be wrong in assuming that the answer to this question is that they are, of course, universal by definition. However, this essay will address key issues surrounding the impacts of politics, economics and other barriers that stop them being truly universal.

Some key aspects of human rights is that they must be inalienable, indivisible and interdependent, according to Amnesty International, meaning no government can chose what rights to respect nor can they take them away. In the west, where democracy has had years to mature and develop, human rights violations are few and far between in recent years, however one only has to look as far as Myanmar for an example of governments persecuting minorities.

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Myanmar shows how human rights can be stripped from those subject to prejudice from higher powers and without economic empowerment in a way that is unheard of in the West, consequently suggesting that despite everyone being entitled to human rights, it is only the economically and politically privileged that can benefit from them. However, this leads to the question ‘is law equally powerful in all countries?’. For instance, it could be suggested that in the west where freedom of speech is tolerated and the governments are that of which were elected by the people they represent that the law is powerful as all must abide by it.

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On the other hand, North Korea (an extreme example) has no freedom of speech and is ran by a dictatorship. Both peoples are equally entitled to human rights, however the political system that they are controlled by dictates the power of these rights – those in North Korea are much less likely to have their rights respected than those in the West. It is in this aspect that the power of law can be questioned and it is this that makes the question so difficult to find a definitive answer as there is no law that all people are subject to. This is also interesting as the same concept can be applied to the West. Not all citizens of Britain experience the same respect of rights – such as minorities – in recent times. The difference being that in some, but not all, cases the government is unaware of these violations. An example of this is during the Thalidomide disaster where the high court stopped The Sunday Times from publishing articles supporting victims, prompting the Human Rights Court to rule that the court had violated The Sunday Times’ freedom of expression. Consequently, it is clear that even some human rights are not respected by the west either which demonstrates how influential inconsistencies between governments are globally and suggests that perhaps human rights are not even a practise conducted by the west consistently.

Economics is another factor that can affect the impact of law in protecting human rights, regardless of boarders and political circumstances. For instance, a member of society who is wealthy is likely to have much greater social power than someone with relatively low wealth. This would be due to the fact that one who is wealthy has the ability to be listened to and to fight a legal case against any injustice committed against them, subsequently making their legal position much higher than a person who lacks legal knowledge or sufficient wealth to defend their stance, allowing the rich man to prevail. It is in societies where income inequality is at its highest that the economic factor has the most impact due to the social dominance of the rich. Perhaps surprisingly, Western countries such as the United States have relatively similar rates of income inequality to those of the far East like the rising super power China and neighbouring Russia. It is this subjectively ironic situation where the land of the free sees its self at the centre of many racial controversies which violate Article 9 (freedom from arbitrary arrest) with many cases of prejudice in black communities.

This can be supported by the fact that black families have a median net family wealth 1/10th that of white families, demonstrating the severity of the effects of economic equality on the degree in which human rights are respected. The same effect can be seen around the world, especially in places where income inequality is at its highest such as South Africa and South America, highlighting the ruthlessness of social and economic inequalities with regards to oppression of rights. The significance of this affecting the extent of compliance with human rights can not be understated due to the fact that income inequality is something that occurs around the world and affects people from every country in every way, leading to legal injustices globally. It is due to this that it is fair to say that income inequality is something that truly does affect how universal human rights are and how this may be the key in making them more so. In the West (Europe in particular), economic inequalities tend to be less significant than in developing countries and as a result, less human rights violations occur in these places. Therefore, in this case, human rights are a matter of western conduct and until these inequalities are addressed it is likely that it will remain this way.

Psychology may be a reason not considered by many to have an effect on this subject, however it may in fact be one of the most influential factors stopping human rights becoming universal. For many in the West, the idea of political freedom, economic potential and physical and social security are engrained in our beliefs and all aspects of life. These fundamental freedoms and securities are what make up the basis of our idea of human rights, perhaps most importantly they are what we simply expect in our lives. As a result, it is nearly impossible for human rights to not be constantly maintained and developed as a Western life would not exist without these. Human rights and the western ideology are too intertwined to be separated, one can not be considered without aspects of the other. The consequences of this are far reaching throughout history; how ideological freedom ‘triumphed’ during the cold war to defeat communism – an ideology with little respect for human rights in many ways - how economic freedom allowed the USA to become an international super power along with many of its allies. It’s this entrenchment of beliefs that has become synonymous with prosperity in our modern-day lives and perhaps what encourages us to demand human rights. In contrast, the lack of experience in much of the world’s population could well be a reason for the lack of focus on human rights in the developing world. Whether caught in conflict or debate, for much of the world their governments are unstable and prospects low, leaving little room for thought about what some may consider privileges like the freedom of speech, therefore leaving human rights as a Western conduct once again.

In conclusion, there is no clear answer to this question. This is not only due to the fact that human rights are not universal in all regards but are also inconsistently maintained by the West themselves. Human rights are unquestionably a necessity that should in theory belong to everyone, however in practise this is far from true. Violations are not uncommon and unfortunately it is the most under represented and vulnerable people who are subject to these failures. Reasons for these failures are often due to negligence or prejudice from the governments that are meant to protect the people they are harming, economic factors from within society and the psychology of the West, each being significant in their own way. Overall, it could it be said that there are two answers to this question – they are morally and theoretically universal but in reality, this is far from it and in fact are a Western conduct.

Updated: Dec 14, 2021
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Everyone has the right to human rights. (2021, Dec 14). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/everyone-has-the-right-to-human-rights-essay

Everyone has the right to human rights essay
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