'Universal Human Rights are a fiction devised by the West in order to legitimise intervention in other areas of the World.' Discuss.

Essay by firestar_erosUniversity, Bachelor'sC-, April 2004

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In order for one to answer the above question it is critical of course to establish the meanings of the terminology involved and the stage around which these meanings operate. Our modern perception of human rights and humanitarian intervention are of course open to wide-ranging interpretation and as such it is important to understand from the outset that some individuals, groups and states will consider some meanings more appropriate in describing their own position than others. Firstly, the definition of Human Rights is commonly accepted to be the rights that all persons are entitled to, regardless of the state in which they reside or the situation they find themselves born in to, concepts clearly summed up in a legal format by the UN'sUniversal Declaration of Human Rights. The key concepts around which an acceptable consensus can probably be drawn are that all individuals are entitled to freedom and equality, that no prejudice should be borne against anyone regardless of race, gender, religion, culture etc and that everyone has the right to life and not be subject to torture or cruelty or wrongful detainment.

Although one could assume that these basic rights are inalienable to all members of humanity it is often the case that these very rights are regularly under threat, with the rights to life and the freedom from persecution and wrongful detainment probably arising as the most prevalent in the argument supporting humanitarian intervention. Therefore, to proceed further it is essential for one to also define Humanitarian Intervention itself, something I believe is best summed up by Sean Murphy's legal interpretation that it is the -

"Threat or use of force by a state, group of states, or international organization primarily for the purpose of protecting the nationals of the target state from widespread deprivations of...