Monday, September 21, 2009

Cultural Relativism, A Scholarly Journal Approach

Quoting the author of the Journal entitled Internazionale and Documentation Center "Since its foundation in 1965, I DOC has promoted and served movements and institutions committed to transforming structures that cause oppression and ecological destruction - especially where they affect exploited peoples and countries in the South."

"This final issue is on the theme of human rights and ethnic confrontation in Asia. Some articles are taken from the United Nations Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna in June 1993 because it gave voice to some important concepts on this issue. As Caroline Moonhead says: 'Most important, despite the fevered attempts of several governments to prevent it, the concept of the "universality' of human rights, with cultural provisos excluded, was reaffirmed. In simple language, reminiscent of earlier commitments to human rights, the universal nature of these rights and freedoms' was declared to be "beyond question".

This scholarly journals final publication was published in 1994. What I felt was important of course was the mention of and the significance of the relationship between the universality of human rights and the recognition of the notion of cultural relativism. Mind you that this is a scholarly journal and not a media generated article, thus the content should be considered with slightly more merit.


2. Developing Country Governments are also often a source of attack on the principle of universality. The familiar development/human rights' trade-off arguments are offered. A false antimony between providing bread and securing freedom is postulated. Such governments raise arguments of cultural relativism-while often cynically practicing cultural genocide. They raise issues of nonrecognition of economic, social and cultural rights-while often denying precisely these rights to their peoples. They talk about an unbalance between individual and collective rights at the international level-precisely while perpetuating such imbalance, at the national level, by their own actions.

In the end, such governments fail to secure for their peoples either bread or freedom."

This certainly does not dignify nor lend credence to the notion of cultural relativism. The developing country theory and cultural relativism is unacceptable according to the drafters of this published journal. I do wonder, though, however, how much expertise they do have in this field. The wording of the text does not seem as scholarly as I had anticipated it to be. Either way, I felt this was worthy of a post and the time frame is significant to mention being 1994. Many human rights failures were occurring internationally at this time period in our worlds history. The authors do feel strongly about there opinion!


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