MIUC Student Debate – Universalism of human rights

On 5 April MIUC Students of International Relations and Business Faculties debated the universality of human rights. The discussion followed the Oxford model of debating, with one three-member team supporting the notion of the human rights’ universality and the other negating it.
The participants discussed such issues like cultural relativism, legal and functional universality of human right and cultural imperialism. The general recognition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was juxtaposed with their non-universal implementation and observance, and the lack of mechanism of human rights enforcement.

MIUC-Universalism-of-human-rights-Student-DebateThe supporters of human rights universality were pointing at its long history. They referred to the Persian King Cyrus the Great (600 – 530 BC) and the famous Cyrus Cylinder treating about people living in peace under the King’s rein, as one of the cornerstones of human rights concept. They also refused the argument of the negating team about the human rights values being Western-centric, saying that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was endorsed in 1948 by UN member states from all around the globe.

The team that was putting the universality of human rights in question emphasized strongly the relativism of their implementation. “The human rights are not in-born – argued one of the students – but depend very much on where you are born.” The team gave examples of non-universal observance of economic and social rights, spoke about on-going prevalence of death penalty, and pointed at the persisting underrepresentation of women in political life.

Debating, students expounded the very nature of human rights – universal as the concept they remain at the same time relative to history, politics and culture. Congratulations to all the participants! Next debate will be taking place soon. Stay tuned!

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