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Panel discussion report 75: Can we truly say that human rights are universal?


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been passed a half of century ago, but critics are wondering whether something in our multicultural, diverse world can truly be considered universal. Some doubt aren’t human rights essentially Western concept. Can the values of the consumer society be applied to societies that have nothing to consume? Isn’t talking about universal rights is rather to say that rich and poor both have the same right to fly first-class and to sleep under bridges? That sounds pretty frivolous. Our panel discussion mainly focused on the fact is that there are serious objections to the concept of Universal Human Rights which its defenders need to be acknowledged, and its refuters need to be objective.

Overview of the points discussed

The panel was stratified as a debate platform where we had two panel speakers for the topic and two against.  The first speaker put forth incontrovertible fact which specifically states that all human being are created in a same manner and share commonalities. For instance every human regardless of gender, nationality, ethnicity and race needs food, healthy life, education and freedom. Thus, the speaker asserts that Universal Human Rights are applicable to all humans. The second speaker opined that the concept of Universal Human Rights founded on an individualistic view of people, whose greatest concern was to influence the rest of the world or to dominate other perspectives. She incisively stated that rights and values are limited to cultural perspectives, which means if there is no universal culture; therefore there are no universal human rights, which sounded quite plausible considering the global cultural diversity.

It was the third speaker’s contention that universal human aids are not distributed fairly across the globe, so how can somebody say that there are Universal Human Right if the founding people are not adhering to what they have postulated. He mainly argued that it is far-fetched to say human rights are universal. The last speaker claimed that Human Rights can conceptually be considered universal with respect to the notion of globalization. Though there are cultural differences, yet globalization made the world as a global village that has more or less the same life style.


According to our discussion, we spent some time to choose the moderator. Everybody found difficult to be the moderator, we appointed fingers to each other, and then finally I volunteered to be the moderator. We did not have any issues with the selection of the topic, we noted quite number of topics then we picked up one by vote, then everybody agreed.


I thought my group were not collaborative enough, even when I called them for meeting no one attended. Some of them were so reluctant in participating the group discussion, so I decided to prepare the proposal and assign everybody question. Finally everybody prepared based the specific question which I gave to them. The best thing I liked about my group was no body rejected my question, since they did not cooperate with me they just accepted the challenge to prepare on what it was given to them. Yet they did well.

Reflection of the Panel Discussion

As a moderator, I thought the follow of the panel was really fantastic. It was delivered in a debate form, where we had two speakers on the topic and two against. Both sides where right according to their stand. For example when we say we are all human and we share common needs and desires that is true. Yet on the other hand we can say that some values are limited to cultural diversity. For instance, we cannot and talk about women empowerment in Saudi Arabia they would definitely case you out. Because according to their culture women are supposed to stay home. So I learnt the prominence of Universal Human Rights and the immediate need for it to be universal.


I personally agree with the utterances that Universal Human Rights can truly be considered as a universal. Cultural differences can be adjusted to an extent that Universal Human Rights would be applicable. I do not believe that the concept was found on an individualistic view of people, because in United Nations every country in the world has a seat on it so we cannot simply say that it is western Ideology, rather we should say that it is unanimous consensus.


Franck, T. M. (2001). THE RISE OF CULTURAL EXCEPTIONALISM. Forein Affairs , 2. Retrieved from.

Human Rights Awareness. (1999). ARE HUMAN RIGHTS TRULY UNIVERSAL. Human Rights Awareness, 5.Retrieved from.

Khan, R. (2009). Are Human Rights Truly Universal . Aljazeera, 4. Retrieved from.

Tharoor, S. (1999/2000). Are Human Rights Universal? – World Policy Journal – World Policy Institute. WORLD POLICY JOURNAL, 4. Retrieved from.

Date: Week 7&8

Lecturer: Mr John Britto

Name: Muktar Abdillahi Qowdan

ID: 111100122

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