The preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) proclaims that the rights discussed in the document are "a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations." This document, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), are meant to be global agreements that span all cultures and traditions. These documents however do not live up to their intent. In fact, the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights prove this unrealized and unrealistic expectation of the earlier 'universal' and 'international' treaties.
Theoretically perhaps, there does exist a set of universal human rights, but in this diverse world any set of human rights that is to be recognized internationally must be more of a universally accepted set of human rights. This 'Declaration of Universally Accepted Human Rights' would be a document focused on overlapping consensus of many cultures.
In order to accomplish this, first, an all inclusive document must be drawn up that deals with those rights that fall under an overlapping consensus of the many different cultures of the world. Specifically, more input from African, Asian, and Middle Eastern cultures must be included in this consensus. Second, the legacy of imperialism and slavery must be acknowledged and addressed. Many African and island cultures have suffered and continue to suffer because of these practices. The novels Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, and A Small Place, by Jamaica Kincaid, deal with many of these issues.
The purpose of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was to establish a standard of human rights that is universal. Unfortunately, shortly after the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December...