chapter  7
49 Pages

Human Rights and Legal Theory

Human Rights and Legal Theory 7 INTRODUCTION ‘Human Rights’ have become, in the early twenty-first century, a form of global secular religion. The spread of ‘human rights consciousness’ and effective protection for human rights in all countries of the world is seen as the ultimate goal of Western liberal ideology securing a safer and more just global community and guaranteeing basic rights for every person on earth. The promise of human rights ideology is that ultimately of a secular human ‘paradise’. Charles Taylor, the philosopher and author of A Secular Age (2007) in an interview with the journal ‘The Utopian’ in 2010 commented on the dominance in the Western democracies of the ‘human rights’ conception of politics and how other conceptions of politics such as ‘civic republicanism’ which seek to find in politics the common grounds for trust and co-operation have lost out to the dominance of ‘human rights’ discourse in politics. Charles Taylor comments:

‘there has been developed a very articulated human rights discourse, human rights law, and so on, concerned with individual rights, with equality and nondiscrimination, with the promotion of democracy, so that a lot of people now look at politics in this framework. Is the polity (the state) violating this or that nondiscrimination requirement, or this or that right? And this has come to eclipse the tradition of worrying about the collective creation of the common conditions of trust (the civic republican tradition) which alone make this kind of society possible.’