[Marxism] HUMAN RIGHTS and the international class struggle.

Chris Brady cdbrady at sbcglobal.net
Thu Apr 15 14:32:02 MDT 2004


     Ian Brownlie introduced his collection of BASIC DOCUMENTS ON HUMAN
RIGHTS, Part One, "Standard-Setting by the United Nations Organization,"
with the tribute:
     A Major achievement of the draftsmen of the Charter of the United
Nations was the emphasis of the provisions on the importance of social
justice and human rights as the foundation for a stable international
order  (Brownlie, 1).

The Charter established an internationally recognized consensus.  But
when critical distinctions were made concerning "social justice and
human rights" in the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS (UDHR, signed
on December 10, 1948), disagreement arose between capitalist and
socialist states. Communist states of the time abstained from but did
not vote against the UDHR.  They were in accord with the concept of
human rights, and categorically opposed to racism and sexism, but the
document as a whole had a distinct "Western bias" in favor of civil
liberties over social and economic rights (Brownlie, 21; Renteln, 30). 
Certain Articles of the Declaration, particularly Article 17 pertaining
to the individual right to property, contradict notions of social
justice as interpreted by historical materialists.  Filipino social
scientist Renato Constantino pointed out that some human rights concern
"Northern" liberals more than others.  Northerners focus on civil
liberties and political freedoms over "social and economic rights." 

     The separation of social justice and human rights took on greater
significance as time went along and especially as regards Latin
America.  Brownlie advised:  "...social conditions in nearly all of
Latin America entail inequalities and deprivation on such a scale that
recourse to the classical Western political and civil rights is
manifestly inadequate."  Brownlie briefly focused of Latin America's
"special features."  He left little doubt about the cause for the clash
of opinions outlined above:
     "The whole question of human rights is bound up with the status of
aliens and their property: powerful foreign corporations will wish to
rely on human rights standards to preserve an economic status quo
favourable to their interests. More significant is the relation of human
rights to the regional security system represented by the Organization
of American States. There is abundant evidence that the concept of human
rights in Latin America has been employed as a weapon against
revolutionary regimes, particularly Cuba (Brownlie, 487)."

---

References:

 . Ian Brownlie, BASIC DOCUMENTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS, 3d ed., (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1992).

 . Alison Dundes Renteln, INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS: UNIVERSALISM
VERSUS RELATIVISM, (Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1990).

 . Renato Constantino, "A Southern View of Human Rights," e-mail
transcription from Third World Network Features (Penang, Malaysia: Third
World Network <twn at igc.apc.org>) via PNEWS-L at SJUVM.STJOHNS.EDU 
(Accessed 22 June, 1995). 

From: 
Abuse Excuse: Human Rights in Cuba and the U.S. Embargo (Chris Brady,
1995).




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