Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 July 2002
The language of human rights, along with much else in international relations, presently exhibits the features of globalisation and fragmentation. Globalisation in that human rights is used throughout the world at many levels to discuss moral approval and condemnation. Fragmentation in that human rights means different things to different people, and may well be used in contradictory ways by agents of social change. Yet most advocates of human rights wish to retain the adjective ‘universal’ along with a sense of the moral objectivity of human rights. This article suggests that a better way to ensure human rights universalism is to think of the concept as a tool, not an objectively existing moral standard or entity.
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