- Seyed Mohammd Mirzmani
Human Rights were manifested in line with various human civilizations and as an objective outcome of justice seeking movements. At various historical era intellectuals ,scholars prophets and rulers had extremely effective role in institutionalization of human rights concepts. Historically, there seemed to be the defense of rights of human from three thousand years ago on, based on the exalted teachings of Justice-seeking movements. The Analects of Confucius in the Eastern Asia, and the epigraph (inscription) of Great Cyrus in Iran and western Asia during the conquest of Babel, and the Asian values at various eras in the Indian subcontinent, could be considered as the memorials of human rights history. From a historic perspective, what was found in these writings is considered as the precious heir of human society which is linked and depended to other parts.
Undoubtedly, these huge thoughtful and historic achievements belong to all human being and their use could help to a better understanding of human rights concepts.
In other words, this precious heritage has international values for two reasons:
First and with regard to human rights concepts, the values posed in this viewpoint have very deep, wide reliable dimensions. Second, these ideas at their special time and place setting have been geographically dominant in various parts of the world. In fact, these concepts were not only considered as a theory, but also have been practiced in societies. Therefore through a new approach, it could be concluded that intellectuals, rulers and prophets had the seeking of justice and protecting of the rights and dignity of human beings on the top of their activities. Confucius states: "Whenever the highest reality triumphs the life of human society, the Earth belongs to the fabric of society. The people choose among themselves the most knowledgeable diligent men to establish peace, unity, welfare and solidarity in the society. Then all individuals treat each other honestly and amicably like family members and give a helping hand to each other. This is the real human society."
These were stated several centuries ago (B.C.) but we find the fundamentals of human rights in those words of Confucius. On the other part, many of the historians and intellectuals believe that the first world declaration on Human Rights was issued by Cyrus the Great. He toppled down the Mad's dynasty and established a government based on the human principles. According to Aristotle, "Cyrus has released his country from servitude".
It is interesting to know that according to the documents and evidences, Holy Koran refers to Cyrus as zulgharnein. He was a man of monotheism and a king of justice who was kind to inferiors. His manner was based on kindness, benevolence, and tolerance while he was a man of politics towards the tyrants and enemies. Cyrus has always defeated enemy tribes, and forgiven the offenders. He has always paid tribute to the high figures of every tribe and treated their inferiors with compassion and has politically taken measures for the disloyal and corrupt persons. In 538 B.C, when the news of the tyranny of Babel king became worldwide, Cyrus commanded a military group to Babel. When he conquered Babel, he issued an order by which forty thousands people were released from servitude and were returned to their homelands. With regard to the exalted rights of human, the epigraph of Cyrus is of paramount importance and is considered as the first charter of freedom and human rights in the legal forums. In a part of his historical epigraph, Cyrus states: "Every day I pray the Almighty Allah. My numerous army moved in Babel city without any nuisance. I did not let any one to make Babel land frightened. I considered their needs and their chapels and made efforts to improve their lives. I took away the undesirable yoke of Babel civilians. I renovated their destructed homes and put an end to their grieves...." These were two examples of the great history of human civilization based on the sense of justice and protection of human rights that were referred to. Meanwhile, these fundamentals have been influential at their special time and place and should be pondered about with respect to geographical expansion.
A critic on cultural relativity and international human rights
A western intellectual in the field of cultural relativity and international human rights, Jack Donnly, has dealt with a kind of understanding of these two subjects and considered the classification of weak and strong, cultural relativity, extremist and non extremist globalization as an approach to get rid of the challenge.
However, there is a primary discussion: First, the elements of time and place have significant effects on enculturing and globalizing human rights. For example globalization of human rights is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the relevant covenants, however a question has not yet been posed that the issuance of the Declaration, was principally established on the disputes of the West camp and the disputes were prompted by the main problems that hindered the establishment of peace and security in the West.
As a final point, Donnly believes that human rights in our age is worldly in essence and should only be adjusted to some relatively common levels, based on the cultural diversity.
In the book, based on the effectiveness of time factor, another point is stated that we should comply with in our classification: "Development as freedom", under the title of Islamic tolerance: "Among the strong commentators and defenders of pluralism negligence in India, King Akbar should be mentioned; the great Emperor of Mogul, (whose reign was between 1556-1605). We face a powerful king who certified various forms of social religious behavior and human rights, including the freedom of worship and religious practice that was impossible in many parts of Europe at his concurrent era. For example, an interesting event happened in 1591in divergent Delhi which resembles what has happened in early third millennium. King Akbar issued quite a few different Orders at that historical era which were based on religious negligence.
The description of negligence is as follows: No one shall interfere in others' religion and every body is authorized to convert into another religion as he/she wishes. Of course this negligence was not strong in other social fields, but at one level negligence and equality were combined with non negligence and inequality at other level. However the area of public negligence on issues such as faith, belief, and religious practice is utterly remarkable. It should be borne in mind that these viewpoints were proposed by King Akbar at a time that faith inspection was being fully blossomed in Europe. Therefore could be realized how the theory of relativity and cultural diversity, which is based on the principles of time and place, is steering in its developmental path.
Justice as the highest tool of applying human rights
The concept of justice is specially respected by all human tribes. In a way, globalization of justice concept is acceptable by all people, although the concept may be misinterpreted. Justice shall be applied at various grounds, at any rate. However in the western culture more attention is paid to justice in terms of politics rather than other factors. One of the most famous intellectuals of the West, John Rawls, has introduced new interpretations of this concept which is, to a great extent, near to reality. The motive behind his interpretations lies in the fact that he considers de-povertization as the utmost result of justice., With regard to class distinction of the public, he even justifies it as acceptable if the wealth distinction is at the disposal of the poorest layers of society. Consequently, today a large gap exists between the profit-oriented theories and the social and commercial arrangements. Furthermore, in many large countries of the world, the most significant concern over human rights is to fight against poverty and prevent its development in various social, natural, and cultural fields. The topic of trade and human rights shows the consideration of human rights principles in these arrangements.
One thing should be noted: what is more important than the very concept of justice, is its management in society, especially in political and economical fields as well as judicial issues, to hinder the development of corruption, injustice and oppression.
Having in mind the justice and equality criteria, we should consider that different countries and various nations have diverse cultures, religions and traditions. Without considering the priorities and norms, diversity and relativity of these concepts would make the application a problematic one.
In many insistences, these sacred concepts would turn into pressure and an invasion tool. This shows the importance of the concept of diversity and relativity. Meanwhile, what prompts us in the current world to be sensitive towards the human rights issues and human dignity, is the real degree of protecting these rights by those countries that consider themselves as the defenders and protectors of these rights. It is of vital importance to mention that the formulation of the universal Declaration of Human Rights and the relevant covenants happened after break-out of the World War II and the destructive fighting of the western countries. In fact, the new legacy of human rights was born through the battle of western countries and was a plaster on the old wounds of human beings, while these concepts could draw the attentions of other nations and states due to its prevalence, we should be convinced that these achievements are not the last ones and more than any other time the human society, that is thirsty for justice, peace, and security, needs the human rights concepts to institutionalize the intrinsic dignity of human and justice and to progress remarkably in fighting against poverty.
We reach to a conclusion that in the existing turbulent world the root of resolving all problems is not war and occupation. We may consider that during the past fifty years, after the second World War, the signs and effects of previous world wars provocations are evident in all regional wars and clashes. Unfortunately, many of these struggles, wars and bleedings have occurred in the name of human rights, democracy and freedom. The violation of human rights and deprivation of Middle Eastern people, in particular the Iraqis and the Palestinians, from their primary rights, and the development of poverty and insecurity with the slogan of human rights, democracy and freedom is a catastrophic overshadowing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The unconditional defense of western power for these disasters and development of insecurity and pandemonium has paved the way for upgrading the viewpoint of cultural diversity and rights based on the real needs and desire of people.
At the International Arrangements
The important points of the draft of establishing resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council demonstrate the significance and general sensitivity to the issue of human rights. Some points of the draft that would serve to a better understanding of the subject are as follows:
The significance of the concept of cultural diversity and comprehensiveness of the human rights
The third paragraph of the introduction on human rights concept refers to "all human rights". This refers to the comprehensiveness of human rights as a consistent, indivisible and worldly concept. "All human rights" means human rights in all economic, political, civil, social and cultural aspects that should be complied with on the basis of justice and fairness.
In paragraph four of the introduction, even the significance and acceptance of national, regional, historical, cultural and religious characteristics of tribes and nations are emphasized and the states are, obliged to protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms of human beings, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems.
The concepts of development, peace, and human rights are considered as inseparable elements.
Paragraph 8 of introduction refers to an important point that is the interrelationship of the concepts of peace, security, development and human rights that are considered as the infrastructure of the system of the United Nations and collective security.
In paragraph 12 of the introduction, the right of development is considered as a new human rights concept in the third millennium among others factors.
Preventing the application of dual standards and the politicization of the concept of human rights
Paragraph 9 is about the elimination of double standard in human rights and prevention of the politicization of human rights concepts.
There are two more differences between the new Human Rights Council and the previous Commission:
- § The Human Rights Council has suspended the rights derived from membership due to its wide remarkable violation.
- § The creation of supervision system is one of the very important factors of the Human Rights Council.
According to this mechanism (Universal Periodic Review), the Council shall be obliged to submit the report of the human rights situation in all Member States of the United Nations. The new mechanisms shows the quest of Asian and Islamic civilization views more than before to upgrade the concepts of human rights is through dialog and cooperation rather than division of values to western and nonwestern.
Non Aligned movement, Cultural Diversity and Development of Human Rights
Last year the NAM in Tehran, had an important meeting about human rights and cultural diversity. This session succeeded in some fields. The first one was the level of participants and the second one was issuing a strong declaration, completed by an action plan which follows:
Cultural Diversity and human rights declaration:
This concept was based upon reality and the purposes of United Nations charter, inter alia the right of the people for their self determination. Logical tolerance is also a fundamental value in the international affairs which should promote the culture of peace and dialogue. The resolution of general assembly emphasizes on cultural diversity as a source of mutual enrichment for cultural human life:
Mutual interactions in different cultures should be considered as a human life heritage. This interaction should be based upon antiracism and be used as a way for development and prosperity of all nations.
Fundamental elements in cultural diversity should be used as protector and promoter of social justice and tolerance in the society and all appropriate measures should be taken against the racism and apartheid.
In the concept of cultural diversity, the whole human rights is considered as a live organism, which interacts with international society, based upon justice and equality, and the regional and national specifications. Consequently it is a governmental duty to achieve these purposes on the basis of impartiality.
Explanation of the topics of adopted program of action
- 1. International commitment to respect cultural diversity
- 2. Dialogue for essential cooperation for enrichment of the universality of human rights
- 3. Upgrading and understanding the results of cultural diversity
- 4. Role of cultural institutes, medias and academics
- 5. Role of United Nations and other international organizations
All effective elements on the international scene to contribute for building an international order, based upon principle of Justice, equality, equity, human dignity and mutual understanding, promote and protect the development of cultural diversity.
Universal Human Rights may consider regional and national interest through a constructive cooperation which is based upon considering cultural, religious and historic backgrounds.
With respect for the cultural values of other nations, the concept of cultural diversity extends the participation of people and enhances a wider exchange of knowledge. In this way, the international community should avoid discrimination or preferential treatment towards other nations and cultures. Development of their concepts are coming through respecting the other nations. On the otherwise the domination of values, lifestyle, believes from industrial countries to the south and developing countries, with the purpose of destroying their basic values and core principles of their societies to the detriment and even loss of cultural identities this situation creating a new kind of colonialization and unilateralism.
Some industrial countries in regional conflict, considering in human measures like, restrictions of the people activities, borders problems , immigrant, destruction of home and vital infrastructure including destroy their cultural heritage, this is the situation in the Meddle East especially in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.
If for developing human rights, international communities should take appropriate measures to bring an end to this tragic and intolerable situation cooperation and dialogue among and between cultures and civilization, could facilitate the protection of tolerance in different cultures.
The best way to foster respect of cultural diversity is education, awareness of different civilization specially the concept of human rights, we should preparing and encouraging the incorporation of from work to study various cultures and civilizations in educational institutes, exchange of knowledge including leaving different languages, history and sociopolitical and economic thought of the countries.
United Nation, International communities Human Rights Council should take appropriate measures for protecting and promotion the concept of cultural diversity and developing human rights.
The enhancement of solidarity between the nations with exact obligation and framework of how to administer Justice and equalities upgrading the values of human rights through the nations.
There is a special tendency in the international community by which human rights in contemporary world is associated with the concepts of peace, security and development. Fundamental freedoms maintain political stimulant for economic security and create special priorities and values.
We may not enrich the main value of cultural diversity in Asia without considering all components of these concepts.
1- We should authentically correct the present view that "Human Rights" is a totally western idea and cultural diversity and Asian values are based upon central authority and dominance. On the contrary, the western liberal values got the opposite position. Otherwise, in contemporary world the acceptance of diversity and relativity within the civilization and different cultures are extremely considerable. We should really hesitate an inclination to absolutes and general ideas about the culture and civilization of Africa, Asia and even Western values. Simplistic and superficial reading of culture and civilizations creates difference, division, corruption and atrocity in society.
The fact is that people encourage new talks, negotiation and education about other cultures that are based upon mutual understanding and respect. If we believe in existence and settlement in a harmonious planet, we can not ignore moral principles and other values.
 . the original analects: saying of Confucius and his successors, Colombia university press 1998
- Simon Leys the Analects of Confucius
 . Politics Aristotle
 . Great. Scholar. Tabatabaie Almizan, Volume 26 (Persian version Translation of Koran)
 . this is belong to Great Cyrus historical epigraph which is know, the original one, keeping in British Museum also in Islamic thought, the Great Cyrus is a man who in the Holy Koran notice as a just, truthfulness, reformer person
- Abulkalam Azad: Great Cyrus
 . Jack Donnly: Universal Human Rights in Theory and practice
 . Akbar, the Great Mogul (oxford, claredon press) translation from vincent. A. Smith
 . John Rawls, Justice as fairness.
- John Rawls, Theory of Justice.
 . United Nation's Human Rights Council Declaration
 . NAM Declaration "Human Rights and cultural Diversity", Tehran summit.
 . Chris Patten East and West (London Macmillan, 1998)
 . Stephan Shate Susan Harfy eds "on Human Rights: the Oxford Amnesty Lectures 1993)