Human rights in the globalization era

11:28 20.04.2017 • Andrey Kadomtsev , political scientist, foreign policy adviser to the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Russian Federation
Human rights phenomenon is one of the “eternal” questions of the human being which means it has to always be in the center of the general dispute. To date, the provisions of human rights protection and adherence have become integral part of the international law’s general sphere (1). But the process of the global civilization transforming into a interrelated global system has once again sparkled a discussion of the human rights definition, the universal views of human rights, their spreading and cultural relativism. These problems have long become one of the key parts on the global agenda.
Thus, representatives of a number of eastern countries (China, Indonesia, Syria, Pakistan etc.) are promoting a human rights concept of their own, different from the West. Its essence is as follows: a) regional specifics must be considered in human rights interpreting and application; b) social and economical rights are of a higher priority, compared to the civil and political ones, while collective are of a higher priority compared to the individual ones; c) only the state has the exclusive right to define the status of a person.
A number of expert specialists, including the western ones, also believe that the objective differences in the legal status of a person of the eastern countries are a main reason for a refusal to accept them as the Western values and formats, due to the fact that they are expressed in different values. The West creates a motivation or the personal and leadership traits of an individual, while the eastern cultures always concentrate around a whole group that acts as a subject (this group bears the real rights while the person is only entitled to the rights the group has). Dependency on the social group is even stronger among the Muslim peoples.
Here, we have to admit that the idea of humanity as a united community having uniform rules is also a uniform message for the world’s religions. However, the status of the personality in different religions also differs. There are human rights in the Sharia law, but the dominating role is given to the obligations that God gives to the individual. The personality status definition is what differentiates the western Christian and Confucian cultures. In China, for example, an individual does not have a status that entitles them to stand out against the family and social relations that they are linked to since their birth. And, just the opposite, modern liberal thought replaces the Christian notion of the eternal God with a notion of basic individual human nature as a universal substantiation for justice. Thus, the liberal rights in the west are extended to individuals in general.
Another important reason of the skeptical mood growing in relation to the universal understanding of the human rights is the selective approach to it on behalf of the countries aspiring to become tutors of the world community and initiators of the “topmost humanitarian standards”. A typical example of such selective approach is the refusal of the USA to cancel death penalty existing in a number of its states.
For the last 2-3 years the world, as Russian President Vladimir Putin said, saw “double standards in assessment of crimes against the civilians” (in the south-east of Urkraine, Syria, Iraq), “violation of fundamental human rights for life and personal intactability”.
At the same time, covered by the “war on terrorism” up for the recent 10 years, even the countries of “mature democracy” implement measures of mass surveillance, imprisonment without court, tortures in relation to those suspected of terrorism – all these facts have become routine practice. Out-of-court death penalties, mass application of drones in relation to those suspected of terrorism are becoming still more popular. There is a frightening trend of the freedom of speech and information access threats, unwanted media and journalists pressure, control and censorship in the digital media segment.
Globalization makes up for a harsh competition between the countries. In these conditions, when the ill practice of the Cold war come back to life, the difference between constructive cooperation in the human rights sphere and the attempts to use the rights activists to play makeweights in the political games becomes despairingly small. Today we see many cases when the social movements autonomy or the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) independence on the governments turns into an illusion and the relations between the officials and the NGOs become even closer than we could have imagined.
In general, the inconsistency of the globalization influence on the human rights sphere is mostly based on its sporadic character, as well as its certain monopolization by the western countries. That is why the western concept of the human rights, being one of the sources and key elements of the globalization’s essence, on the other side, causes strong antagonism by the opponents of the world’s social and economic processes transformation through the externally imposed patterns.
As a result, globalization stops to be a one-way process. We experience reciprocal efforts, meant for undermining of and blurring the line of the traditional values that were created for thousands of years of the human civilization’s existence in different countries and communities, showing up in politics, ideology and culture. The situation in question requires a compromise of all the participants in this process.
The Russian Federation consistently follows a line that reads that the abstract rhetoric of “human rights protection” should turn into a systematic work of the international community in the spheres of education, culture, illegal migration, human trafficking and terrorism. In the current situation, we have to regret that the international relations crisis had their negative effect on the international rights institutions that were often unable to adequately and efficiently react to massive violation of the human rights in different hot spots of the world. Overcoming of such negative trends is one of the Russia’s priorities in the external politics.
The human rights challenges of our time are thus threats to the peace and international security, while massive violation of the human rights and the issues of the international economical, ecological and food security make it necessary to build new approaches and unite the efforts of national and international political and human rights institutions at a totally different level.
1. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966 followed by protocols thereto, taken thereafter.
This concept was also fixed (to a certain extent) in the constitutions of most modern countries, including the current Constitution of the Russian Federation of 1993.


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