Towards a New Universalism; Reconstruction and Dialogue

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The main focus of this paper is to propose a research agenda for human rights scholars which may lead to a genuine universal notion of human rights. A brief survey of three dichotomies that characterise the human rights field is followed by a probing of the presuppositions, in particular communalism, embedded in the Western notion of individual civil and political rights and the sphere of personal autonomy in communal cultures. Such an investigation, in conjunction with a cross-cultural dialogue and massive socioeconomic changes, can lead to a reconstructed formulation of human rights which integrates elements from the diverse notions extant today. This in turn can facilitate accountability of all States to an agreed upon doctrine of human rights.

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