Is the Western Outlook on Human Rights the Universal Values? - PAPERS - Humanrights


Is the Western Outlook on Human Rights the Universal Values?
October 28,2014   By:CSHRS

XIONG Wanpeng


In recent years, the debate on human rights and universal value has become a hot topic in domestic academic circle. Some scholars earnestly explored the issue from philosophic and political angles. In the international relations, some politicians of Western countries also like to promote the universal values and criticize the human rights situations in developing countries. They believe that liberty, equality and human rights in developed capitalism countries such as the United States, the United Kingdoms and France are the universal values with congenital advantages which should be followed by other countries. This has led to our deep thinking on the essence of human rights and values. Is human right a universal value? Is the Western outlook on human rights a universal values? It is of great theoretical and practical significance to clarify this issue. This article tries to discuss this issue from the angle of human rights theory.

I. The Essences of the Western Universal Values

Before we discuss this topic, we should first distinguish two concepts.

(I) Value and Values
Value mentioned here refers to the relationship between a person in reality and the attribute of the object that can meet his or her certain needs. Value is related to people's needs, can meet people's certain needs, and is the target of interests and goals of people. Thus, the concept of value reveals the usefulness of something for people. In this sense, human rights can protect people's dignity and personality and can meet people's demands for liberty, security and development. Thus, human rights are the very important value.

Values refer to people's reaction to social presence, their general evaluations and outlooks on the significance and importance of the surrounding objective matters (including people, events and materials), and the criterion used by social members to evaluate actions and events and select their satisfactory goals among various possible goals. These general evaluations and outlooks, in the final analysis, reflect people's attitudes toward interests. That is to say, values are the interests people are aware of. Mr. Mei Ninghua believes that viewing from the essentially decisive roles of interests in the values, we can see that only two types of values in human values system that play dominant roles to other values and occupy the core position: one is individualism and the other is collectivism. By investigating the development history of human society and the evolution history of ideological concepts, we can see that the historical evolution process of values is fundamentally the process of conflicts, confrontation and even collision of individualism and collectivism. In addition, the two types of core values often penetrate into and compensate each other . From the angle of human rights, we can see that the Western human rights outlook embodies the values of individualism while Chinese human rights outlook reflects more about collectivism values, based on which, we stress on the protection of individual rights and interests and organically unify collective interests and individual interests.

(II) Universal Value and Universal Values
Universal value refers to the value contents universally recognized and pursued by human society, such as liberty, democracy, human rights, equality and justice, etc. Of course, these contents themselves are formed and realized historically. Liberty, democracy and human rights are also the common value orientation of the Chinese people. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, especially after China's reform and opening up, China carries forward socialism democracy, improves socialism lawful governance, maintains social equality and justice, respects and protects human rights and recognizes these values in laws, embodies them in policies and follows them in practices.

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