Universal human rights: a key piece for the future
A long time has passed since, in the framework of the French Revolution of 1789, the French National Constituent Assembly approved the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, document that will serve as the basis for the contemporary idea of fundamental, inalienable and inalienable rights that are granted to every human being at birth. And yet, in the XXI century, there are many regimes and situations in which disrespect and violation of these basic rights clearly occur and remain unpunished.
In the West we often boast of having “invented” modern human rights, ignoring its long line of antecedents in antiquity. We also often invoke them to criticize the most ruthless governments in Africa and the Middle East.
We assume our moral superiority and regard them as barbarians, we accuse them of being backward and even thus justify the decision to intervene militarily in their countries. And is it true that in our countries we fully guarantee the right to life? Isn’t there discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation? Do not the crimes of powerful rulers go unpunished?
Of course, comparing the situation of extreme vulnerability of an inhabitant of North Korea, Eritrea or Afghanistan with that of a citizen of Europe or the United States can be unfair, and can even be interpreted as a way to make invisible the advances that in legal matters and social have been achieved after centuries of struggle in the West.
The latter should push us towards the construction of a more ethical society, with less hypocrisy, that judges the murder of a white citizen equally as one of color, or that punishes with equal harshness the crimes committed in war by the losing and the victorious sides. . How easy it is to remember the horrors of Nazism during WWII, while dropping atomic bombs on the civilian population of two Japanese cities is justified as an extreme and necessary measure!
Human rights, a moral compass
Respect for human rights, then, should lead us to question our western societies, as well as those of others. It is unethical to negotiate commercially with regimes that persecute, torture and murder their citizens, and that should apply so much to everyone without distinction.
Thus, for example, it makes no sense for the United States to justify its military actions in the Middle East on human rights, but at the same time allying itself commercially and militarily with the bloody monarchy of Saudi Arabia, a country where homosexuality is punishable by death.
Similarly, China is targeted for its mistreatment of Muslim minorities, while in the United States the police treat African-American civilians as second-class citizens, whose killings by law enforcement often go unpunished. Either human rights are, as they are supposed to be, universal, fundamental and sacred, or then we are not making any progress on the matter.
In this sense, the cultural relativism that accuses human rights of being a Western invention that we want to impose by force on other cultures is not very helpful to us. Are we supposed to turn a blind eye to despotic, cruel and bloody governments? Respect for the culture of others cannot be a refuge for genocidaires, just as neither is the right to self-determination or political autonomy. In addition, this perspective forgets that universal human rights had important antecedents in ancient cultures of the East, such as the declaration of the Persian king Cyrus in the 6th century BC. C., contained in the so-called “Cyrus Cylinder”.
A more humane future
Finally, it is not possible to think about the future of our species without taking into account human rights. Especially when we face in the 21st century a crucial point in the history of our species, in which the climate catastrophe and the global economic crisis threaten to lead us to complex, unequal, challenging scenarios. What will happen to human rights if the world’s food supply begins to run low? What place will respect for life and non-discrimination have if the rise of the seas continues and the portion of habitable land is reduced?
To design a more humane future, one that we are proud to pass on to generations to come, we must lay its foundations in the present. It is not a simple task, and the enormous cultural, social, political and religious differences that are characteristic of our species make everything even more difficult. But precisely the universality of human rights can provide us with a solution to the conflict, insofar as they can become a common floor on which to negotiate with those who think differently, look different or speak differently.
In conclusion: either we treat each other as unique and valuable human beings, or barbarism will always continue to be there, crouched, waiting for the ideal moment to take us back centuries.
- “Human rights” in Wikipedia.
- “Argumentative text” in Wikipedia.
- “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” in the United Nations (UN).
- “What are human rights?” at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
- “What are human rights?” at Unicef.
What is an argumentative text?
A argumentative text It is one that offers the reader a point of view, supported by arguments, opinions, examples, justifications, reasoning and other resources (many of them expository) that have the purpose of convincing them. It is a type of text that seeks to form a specific opinion in the reader, to push him to think in a way about a topic.
Typical examples of argumentative texts are: literary essays, journalistic opinion texts (such as editorials), some advertising messages or electoral campaign texts. And in these texts two types of arguments can be used: the logical ones (which appeal to reason and critical judgment) and the emotional ones (which appeal to passion and feelings).