April 13, 2015

Determining the Origins of Human Rights

Sandra Fredman, University of Oxford Faculty of Law, has published Are Human Rights Culturally Determined? A Riposte to Lord Hoffmann in The Jurisprudence of Lord Hoffmann (P. S. Davies and J. Pila, eds.; Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2015). Here is the abstract.

The relationship between issues which go to our ‘common humanity’ and those which are ‘culturally determined’ is a vexed one. Between a commitment to a thoroughgoing relativity and pure universalism lie many stopping points. Lord Hoffmann’s primary target is the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The aim of this chapter, however, is to examine his arguments in the light of the increasingly lively transnational judicial conversation about the resolution of similar human rights questions in different jurisdictions. I argue that it is a mistake to address the question as if there were only two options: a universal right answer to human rights disputes or an answer which is culturally determined, precluding any further common ground. Instead, the interpretation of both the substance and limitations of human rights should be a deliberative process. There can be no aspiration to achieve absolute answers which apply in all contexts over all time but to engage in constant reasoned attempts to develop the understanding of human rights. It is through the process of deliberation, consensus building, and accountability that human rights take on a dynamic role in society.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

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