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Universality of Human Rights: Its Challenges

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Chapter Summary

This chapter highlights the arguments of the feminists and cultural relativists with the aim of explaining that human rights norms are neither sacrosanct nor a monolithic whole. There can be different notions of human rights. Genuine voices and concerns from different regions of the world must be accommodated, otherwise the universalism and universal application of human rights system would remain a farce. The chapter analyses main arguments of feminists and relativists. The cultural relativists have also challenged the argument of the Universalists. All principles of human rights law, in its current formulation, are not universal. The arguments of the natural law theorists and universalists are valid to the extent that some human rights, such as the rights to life and not to be tortured are universal and have acquired the status of jus cogensand customary international law. The cultural relativist argument is approached with care from all sides.

Keywords: cultural relativists; customary international law; feminists; human rights system; natural law theorists



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