By Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im
Human rights violations are perpetrated in all components of the realm, and the common response to such atrocities is overwhelmingly one in every of horror and disappointment. but, as Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im and his members attest, our perspective is clouded and biased via the expectancies local to our personal tradition. How do different cultures view human rights concerns? Can an research of those concerns via a number of viewpoints, either cross-cultural and indigenous, support us reinterpret and reconstruct triumphing theories of human rights?
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im is Charles Howard Candler Professor of legislation at Emory college and the editor of Human Rights below African Constitutions, additionally to be had from the collage of Pennsylvania Press.
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Extra resources for Human Rights in Cross-Cultural Perspectives: A Quest for Consensus
If one reflects on the interpretation she or he would like to make the norm, it will probably be the one set by the person's culture. Further reflection on how one would feel about the interpretation set by another culture should illustrate the untcnability of this position. For example, a North American may think that a short term of imprisonment is the appropriate punishment for theft, and wish that to be the universal punishment for this offense. A Muslim, on the other hand, may feel that the amputation of the hand is appropriate under certain conditions and after satisfying strict safeguards.
The object of internal discourse and cross-cultural dialogue is to agree on a body of beliefs to guide action in support of human rights in spite of disagreement on the justification of those beliefs. Jacques Maritain, a French philosopher, explained this idea more than forty years ago: To understand this, it is only necessary to make the appropriate distinction between rhe rational justifications involved in the spiritual dynamism of philosophic doctrine or religious faith [that is to say, in culture], and the practical conclusions which, although justified in different ways by different persons, are principles of action with a common ground of similarity for everyone.
Some delegates supported the addition of the word "unusual" because it might apply to certain actual practices that, although not intentionally cruel, inhuman, or degrading, nevertheless affected the physical or moral integrity of the human person. Others opposed the term "unusual" as being vague: what was "unusual" in one country, it was said, might not be so in other countries. " Surely, what may be seen as "cruel, inhuman or degrading" in one culture may not be seen in the same light in another culture.