Friday, December 30, 2005

Human Rights and International Law

Today's New York Times has an interesting piece on the promotion of human/women's rights in Africa and the tension between such rights and local custom. This is an excellent illustration of the central problem with international law (at least from a political science perspective). As I have discussed in several other posts here, the critical tension is between sovereign equality of states and the creation of strong, enforceable law. As the Times article makes clear, international legal standards, especially in an area like human rights, often runs counter to local practice, tradition, and custom in the developing worlds. For example, the rights of women to hold property or the practice of female genital cutting (both mentioned in the article) seem to be clear violations of internationally accepted norms.

In order for international law to be successful, it will have to challenge and likely make illegal many such practices. This is a problem for those believers in cultural relativism, or opponents of western "cultural imperialism." In my experience, many supporters of broadening the breadth and scope of international law into domestic jursidictions like women's rights are hesitant to acknowledge that doing so requires judging other cultures and declaring their traditions barbaric and illegal. This problem is compounded when international law seems to coincide with western standards for human rights or the treatment of women.

So, I'll pose a question to all of you international lawyers out there: How can this problem be resolved? And this is not a rhetorical question. If law is to flourish, it must make judgments about right and wrong. On the other hand, if we are to protect the diversity of other cultures and prevent or slow the spread of western values, then the international community must promote sovereignty instead of law. Are you willing to promote the law at the expense of cultural diversity? Personally, I would be, although I can see few international mechanisms by which such decisions could be made. How can the international community agree on standards that violate the sovereign right of nations and peoples to govern themselves?


Blogger kiwilawblawg said...

I disagree with you. I think cultural diversity can be maintained through outlawing certain, clearly barbaric, traditions. All cultures have to develop and evolve. Many traditions and practices that took place in Western societies are now outlawed and many other practices that were once outlawed are now being permitted (gay marriages being a recent example that is taking over the western world).

It is a bit forceful to push these societies into the new millenium by telling them female genital cutting is no longer legal, but it is necessary in order to integrate these societies into the rest of the world. It is, I agree, a very delicate process, but these cultures will find their roots in the developed and modern culture they are pushed into (and that distinction should be encouraged).

A final comment is that, by permitting countries and societies around the world to practice their own traditions, however inhumane, we open the door for many evils: rapists, child molestors etc from western countries could move to countries where culture permits it and have their fill of their otherwise highly illegal and criminal behaviour.

12/30/2005 8:51 PM  
Blogger Seth Weinberger said...


I don't disagree that societies can transform themselves, and old barbaric customs can give way to more modern "enlightened" practices. I'm just skeptical of the ability of the international community to foster such a move.

12/31/2005 1:18 AM  
Blogger stefan moluf said...

I would think that the progress of globalization will be the most powerful driver of change. Given that most of the world has no stake in the pooerest places in the world right now - and, therefore has little to do with them - it's not surprising that nothing is done.

I suspect that once factories open up and the West gets more involved with these countries, their increased proximity to many of these "customs" will be the driving force of change.

12/31/2005 4:30 AM  
Blogger anonymous said...

I don't know why it's our job or burden to "protect the diversity of other cultures and prevent or slow the spread of western values." I'm all for the best Western values diffusing world-wide with alacrity and I have no problem holding such values up as "superior" to many practices now off-limits to criticism under the ersatz protective banner of cultural diversity.

1/03/2006 6:53 PM  
Blogger poston said...

There are ed hardy shirts
,pretty ed hardy shirt for men,

ed hardy womens in the ed hardy online store

designed by ed hardy ,
many cheap ed hardy shirt ,glasses,caps,trouers ed hardy shirts on sale ,

You can go to to have a look ,you may find one of ed hardy clothing fit for you
Top qualitymen's jacket,
These cheap jacket are on sale now,you can find
north face jackets inmage on our web
Ralph Lauren Polo Shirtsbuberry polo shirts

Authentic chaussure puma
chaussure sport
And chaussure nike shoes
Come here to have a look of our Wholesale Jeans
Many fashionMens Jeans ,eye-catching
Womens Jeans ,and special out standing
Blue Jeans ,you can spend less money on our
Discount Jeans but gain really fine jeans, absolutely a great bargain.


7/08/2009 5:43 AM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

ninest123 08.08
michael kors outlet, coach outlet, louboutin, tiffany jewelry, burberry outlet online, nike air max, chanel handbags, michael kors outlet, oakley sunglasses, gucci outlet, longchamp outlet, longchamp, prada handbags, ray ban sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, coach purses, replica watches, burberry, jordan shoes, kate spade outlet, ray ban sunglasses, michael kors outlet, nike outlet, louboutin outlet, kate spade handbags, coach factory outlet, coach outlet, tory burch outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, nike free, michael kors outlet, christian louboutin outlet, tiffany and co, prada outlet, true religion jeans, michael kors outlet, longchamp outlet, louboutin shoes, oakley sunglasses, polo ralph lauren outlet, nike air max, michael kors

8/08/2015 2:17 AM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

louboutin pas cher, michael kors, sac guess, michael kors, nike air max, air jordan pas cher, ray ban uk, hollister pas cher, vans pas cher, converse pas cher, true religion jeans, michael kors, oakley pas cher, true religion outlet, nike blazer, nike air max, timberland, lacoste pas cher, north face, nike free, vanessa bruno, hollister, nike air max, burberry, true religion jeans, lululemon, longchamp pas cher, nike free run uk, tn pas cher, nike roshe run, air max, ralph lauren uk, mulberry, hogan, abercrombie and fitch, north face, air force, new balance pas cher, hermes, sac longchamp, ralph lauren pas cher, ray ban pas cher

8/08/2015 2:19 AM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

herve leger, ferragamo shoes, new balance, giuseppe zanotti, nfl jerseys, mac cosmetics, nike roshe, asics running shoes, oakley, vans shoes, north face outlet, baseball bats, reebok shoes, insanity workout, birkin bag, babyliss, valentino shoes, mcm handbags, beats by dre, nike trainers, mont blanc, p90x workout, nike huarache, ghd, instyler, timberland boots, celine handbags, jimmy choo shoes, abercrombie and fitch, hollister, iphone 6 cases, nike roshe, soccer shoes, nike air max, longchamp, chi flat iron, hollister, soccer jerseys, north face outlet, bottega veneta, lululemon, wedding dresses

8/08/2015 2:22 AM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

thomas sabo, karen millen, gucci, toms shoes, links of london, ugg boots uk, ralph lauren, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, pandora charms, swarovski, montre pas cher, uggs on sale, ugg boots, hollister, juicy couture outlet, pandora charms, ray ban, bottes ugg, ugg boots, lancel, supra shoes, ugg boots, ugg pas cher, wedding dresses, coach outlet, marc jacobs, juicy couture outlet, louboutin, vans, converse outlet, converse, swarovski crystal, ugg boots, pandora jewelry, replica watches, hollister, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, nike air max
ninest123 08.08

8/08/2015 2:24 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home