Human Rights and Civilisations

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:15 AM
Room: Booth 46
Oral Presentation
Vittorio COTESTA , Education, UniversitÓ degli Studi Roma Tre, Roma, Italy
In the last 30 years the Theory of Human Rights received many criticisms. The most important is the critique proposed from a civilizational point of view. This critique is advanced by many theorists from China, India and, generally, Asian countries. They said that a universalistic Theory of Human Rights is impossible without Asian Values and demand or propose a Confucian or Neo- Confucian Theory of Human Rights.

The same critique is advanced from an Islamic point of view. The critique of a Western vision of Human Rights here is not only a theoretical question but a practical one. The Islamic world had emanated the “Islamic” and the “Arab” Declaration of Human Rights.

Another criticism is proposed from the so called African Renaissance. In African culture (f. e. in Ubuntu culture) and civilisation there is a conception of Human Rights alternative at those of the Western world.

All this critiques says that: 1) the Human Rights conception is a western ideology; 2) in every culture there are the Human Rights. The consequence is the construction of a philosophical context dominated by relativism.

In this context we can appreciate the debate about Human Rights between J. Rawls (Law of the People), J. Habermas, S. Benhabib and many others. The central problem here is the question of Democracy. Is Democracy a “Western” or a “universal” value?

I would like to present the approach elaborated in my book Global society and Human Rights. This approach is  based on two points: 1) every single culture and civilisation can find in a theory of Huma Rights the valorisation of his particularity and 2) a construction of a universal perspective which can justify/legitimise the cultural differences. The formula is: Unity and Diversity as a basis for a new and inclusive Theory of Human Rights.