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Human rights

By B. de Gaay Fortman


Human rights reflect a determined effort to protect the dignity of each and every human being against abuse of power. This endeavour is as old as human history. What is relatively new is the international venture for the protection of human dignity through internationally accepted legal standards and generally accessible mechanisms for implementation. That mission got a major impetus with the founding of the United Nations in 1945. \ud While the primary focus of the international project for the realisation of human rights used to be on ways and means of limiting and governing political power, other institutions than the state are coming within its range of attention, too, including those of the corporate world. Recently, a ‘human rights approach’ to poverty has gained a prominent place on the development agenda. When human rights are seen as not just legal resources but also political instruments, this means that power is to be regarded as legitimate only if international human rights standards are followed. Legitimacy, in other words, becomes the core concept, referring to the right institutions and principles, the right procedures and also normatively acceptable outcomes. Hence, rights-based approaches to overcome poverty imply efforts to address economic injustices as well, in the first place at the level of the global economy as such

Topics: Sociale Wetenschappen, human rights, development
Year: 2006
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