Re: Human rights/children's rights values

Hello Everybody: My thoughts on the issue of culture and human rights is
that some "cultures" are constant or at least some groups choose to hold
on to what they have come to identify as their "culture". "Culture", even,
those which the rest of the world may view as "negative" culture usually
persists because its practice benefits some who are powerful.
Hence although "culture" is expected to be dynamic, these powerful people,
albeit, usually small in number, fight to keep certain cultural practices

I understand "culture" to be a practice that is started by an individual
and transfers to a group that accepts and continues it as ritual until it
becomes institutionalized as tradition. Traditional practices, over time,
become accepted as culture and vice-versa.

More importantly, to accept that the UDHR was based on the needs of people
everywhere leaves me with questions. This is because some "cultures" were
deemed to have been lesser at the time of the development of the UDHR and
were, therefore, absent from the table. While those powerfully dominant
groups may have thought they were formulating a document that contained
"universal" values, others may interpret the contents of this foundation
document as counter-culture. The word " hegemony" (of ideas) springs to
mind when the issue of universality of interpretation and application come
up for groups of people such as those students who reject the dictates of
the UDHR. Whether these values were discussed by Plato or not, whether
they are the basis of all religions and whether they have inspired
revolutions, the issue still remains for me: is the UDHR really universal
in its interpretation and application given today's socio-political and
economic realities?

I believe questioning the values espoused by the UDHR is proof that
education is a positive force and is reaching communities of people whose
issues were, perhaps not given the attention it deserved at the beginning.

Regina Thompson 
Ontario Human Rights Commission 
180 Dundas Street West, 7th Floor 
Toronto, ON M7A 2R9 
Tel: 416-314-3566 
Fax: 416-212-4072 
E-Mail: <       >

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