In defense of traditional human rights
Southern New Hampshire University
In considering the human rights policies of a sovereign, a functional definition of human rights is necessary. Unfortunately, the Uniform Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) expansively defines human rights by employing a positive rights standard advocated by Jack Donnelly. This expansive definition allows for the infusion of philosophical and political principles relating to justice not shared by all countries and societies. The lack of consensus results in a decreased ability to react swiftly and appropriately to per se human right violations, including genocide and ethnic cleansing. Traditional human rights, or negative rights, are most essential to the definition of human rights in limiting future atrocities assuming a pluralistic society. By defining human rights within the context of traditional negative rights, greater consensus is possible among and between sovereigns allowing prompt action and greater protections. This standard may not serve as a perfect normative theory of global justice. However, the functionality of a traditional human rights approach far outweighs - in human life - the philosophical and political jousting of the global justice questions. This quasi-statist position will be defended employing supporting philosophies of Thomas Hobbes, Maurice Cranston, John Rawls, Thomas Nagel, and Joshua Cohen.