FOUNDATION: Unit I. Why Do We Need Human Rights? 2 of 6

Human Rights as a Means to Human Dignity

UN mosaic based on Norman Rockwell painting,
“The Golden Rule”

Recognizing human rights is one of the most important ways to protect the dignity inherent in every human being. Human rights are protected by establishing a common standard of how a human being should be treated.

The world is politically, economically, and culturally diverse. Internationally recognized human rights provide an agreed-upon way to evaluate the treatment of individuals in all societies or states.

Human rights standards provide a benchmark to use in every state or society. If human beings exist in conditions that fall below these standards, it offends the whole of humanity. Without human rights standards, states could easily argue that outsiders have no business interfering with the way their government treats their citizens.

Those who believe in international human rights can be compared to cultural relativists who reject global standards in favor of local standards that vary from place to place. Under the idea of cultural relativism, a lot of controversial behavior has taken place, such as killing girl children, cutting female genitalia, forcing widows to marry male relatives, etc.

Are there really inherent human rights?
Does everyone believe that?

Human Rights in Action