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The International Bill of Rights and Human Nature

Ladley, Andrew
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) In Anthony J. W. Taylor, ed., Justice as a Basic Human Need. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc. Pp. 159-175.

“This chapter is exploratory and argumentative, because it asks what the striving to establish an International Bill of Human Rights tells us about ourselves and about human nature? In seeking the answer it argues around two related questions: 1) Why does humanity need an International Bill of Rights to achieve something so apparently unarguable as the statement that humans have the right to live in dignity? 2) Why is it that out of some of the greatest wrongs of the human story have come some of the noblest ideals? In the end it suggests a simple thesis — that the search for a common humanity, a common code, is the key to the avoidance of the personal and inter-group competition, so often accompanied by violence, is what I call ‘the human story’. In this sense, internationalized standards of human rights are not optional extras. Neither is the implementation of ‘universal human rights’ some sort of moral western neo-colonialism. Put simply, the argument is that some form of universality is the only way forward, in a Darwinian sense: it is either ‘common humanity’, or the endless repetition of group struggle, discrimination, and violence. Human beings, in other words, need universalism.” (excerpt)


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