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Ideas of Universalism and Cultural Relativism in Human Rights

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Global law, which really has begun creating with the main states, has been a subject of critical changes, particularly amid the period between the Westphalian harmony arrangement (1648) and World War I. Conventional global law is a law of intensity, that is war is viewed as an imperative trait of state sway. One of the basic subjective contrasts between customary universal law and contemporary worldwide law is the preclusion of forceful wars and the possibility of global assurance of human rights. As it were, contemporary worldwide law takes the privileges of man under its support. The universal security of human rights is a progressive thought and conventional controls of worldwide law have nothing to do with it by any stretch of the imagination. It has been an acknowledged tenet that worldwide law is to control the relations between country states, yet not people. In this manner, Oppenheim, the main specialist on global law in the United Kingdom composed, that 'the purported privileges of man not exclusively don't, however, can't appreciate any security under universal law, since that law is concerned exclusively with the relations among states and can't give rights on people.' [1]

Soon after the barbarities of World War II, the initial step was taken to set up and perceive the all-inclusiveness of human rights in worldwide law. It was broadcasted in the Purposes of UN Charter that human rights and crucial opportunities are 'for all without refinement as to race, sex, dialect, or religion.' [2] The selection and announcement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was another real advancement in the method of universalizing human rights. The UDHR Preamble was unmistakably characterizing that 'The General Assembly announces This Universal Declaration Of Human Rights as a typical standard of accomplishment for all people groups and all countries… ' [3] Later the standards of UN Charter and UDHR were created and certified in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights both received by General Assembly goals 2200 (XXI) of 16 December 1966, and in the number of other worldwide arrangements and assertions. Subsequently, an all-inclusive arrangement of guidelines was built up for the assurance of human rights.

The problem of worldwide insurance of human rights is the ideological clash of Universalism and Cultural Relativism. Basically, the idea of Universalism holds that every person has certain unavoidable rights just in light of the fact that the individual is a human, in any case the national foundation, religious or political perspectives, gander or age. The advocates of this idea guarantee that 'the global human rights like rights to measure up to insurance, physical security, free discourse, the opportunity of religion and free affiliation are and should be the equivalent all over.' [4] The idea of Universalism bases on three key jurisprudential hypotheses the characteristic law hypothesis, the hypothesis of realism, and the hypothesis of positivism. The underlying foundations of regular law hypothesis return to antiquated occasions. The primary concern of this hypothesis is that common law is remaining above synthetic positive law and characterizes the eliminable human rights, which are important for all the country states. Realism, a firmly related idea, 'is a hypothesis of widespread laws dependent on a confidence in the general human ability to reason and think judiciously.' [5] Rationalism overrides divine inception of common law with the hypothesis that every individual is invested with specific rights because of the all-inclusive limit of all people to think sanely. Both the common law hypothesis and hypothesis of logic consider general human rights not to rely upon cultural assorted varieties and strengths. The hypothesis of positivism exhibits the presence of general human rights noticing the acknowledgment and approval of human rights instruments by lion's share of states in any case their cultural foundation. It gives the idea that the idea of Universalism with its supporting speculations of characteristic law, logic and positivism finds the wellspring of human rights in global law, as opposed to in individual societies. Human Rights are extra cultural.

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Cultural relativism is the declaration that human qualities, a long way from being all-inclusive, fluctuate a lot as indicated by various cultural points of view. [6] From my perspective, one of the real downsides of the hypothesis of Cultural relativism is the view of 'culture' as something constant and stable. Truth be told, a wide range of Cultural relativism, be it Strong or Weak [7] Cultural relativism, depends on the stable origination of culture, which neglects to perceive the adaptability of culture for social changes and ideological developments. Though, I emphatically bolster the possibility that culture is a progressing procedure of authentic improvement, adjustment and development. Adversaries of this hypothesis contend that Cultural relativism can be perilous for the adequacy of universal insurance of human rights since the idea of the hypothesis in a general sense legitimizes human rights manhandles connecting to the traditions and conventions of the general public. Indian custom of sati [8] is a brilliant case of human rights infringement with cultural bases. An eighteen-year-old Rajput young lady submitted sati in 1987 amid her significant other's burial service fire. She was a college understudy and her marriage was demanded by her folks. There is no proof whether she submitted sati deliberately or under strain, anyway this case found a vast reaction among Rajput society. As an indication of the challenge numerous human rights activists, the two people, sorted out walks against the convention of sati, in the interim numerous others turned out for the custom, asserting that sati is a noteworthy piece of their ethnic culture. They are not just made the young lady as an image of the committed spouse, yet additionally raised a holy place to pay tribute to her. The human rights protectors and activists were marked as Western settlers who were overriding old Indian conventions with Western ones. Clearly, the hypothesis of Cultural relativism prompts the thought, that the principle social unit is a network, not a person. An inquiry rises, does the network have rights to force its will on an individual, or does it have rights to restrict any eliminable right of a person?

As one of the antiquated countries, Armenians have their own one-of-a-kind cultural customs and extent of morals, however, our conventions are increasingly adaptable to address the difficulties of the time. I don't delay to underline that Armenian conventions are very humanistic since they are to a great extent enlivened with the belief system of the Armenian Apostolic Church. One of the best supernatural occurrences of the Armenian Apostolic Church is that there isn't separate church and separate individuals, our congregation and individuals together is one entire solidarity, similar to a tremendous 'basilica'. Furthermore, this 'house of prayer carries inside it all the human qualities, similar to heart, graciousness, and so forth.

Examining the ideas of Universalism and Cultural Relativism, I reached the resolution that in numerous social orders or it is smarter to state in numerous networks social relations are controlled through local conventional standards. Without a doubt, the dismissal of global human rights may prompt orderly maltreatment of human rights inside the social orders or networks, still, in some cases, worldwide insurance of human rights can be utilized for political purposes. Human rights infringement now and again are the purpose behind the mediation of one nation's military into another nation's domain. Starting here, cultural relativism isn't supported. I legitimize the presence of Cultural Relativism. As I would like to think Cultural Relativism is an aftereffect of normal chronicled improvement, it is an issue that couldn't be evaded.


  1. BBC News, War on terror ‘curbing human rights’, 22nd March 2010,
  2. Brown, Chris, (1999), “Universal Human Rights: A Critique”, in Dunne, Tim and J. Wheeler, Nicholas, Human Rights in Global Politics, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge
  3. Huntington, Samuel P. (1996) The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon and Schuster International Crises Group, The ICC Indictment of Bashir: A turning point for Sudan?, 22nd March 2010,
  4. Mutua, Makau (2002), Human Rights, A Political & Cultural Critique, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press Reuters, U.S. “war on terror” eroded rights worldwide: experts, 22nd March 2010,
  5. Risse-Kappen, Thomas, (2002), The power of human rights: International Norms and Domestic Change, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
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Ideas of Universalism and Cultural Relativism in Human Rights. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 9, 2023, from
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