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Der „Westen“ und die Menschenrechte. Abschied vom Ursprungsmythos einer Idee

Eva Kalny

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Eva Kalny: The „West“ and Human Rights. Parting from the Myth of Origin of an Idea.

This article scrutinizes the idea that the concept of human rights has been developed exclusively in the West and then has been spread as a „gift of the West to the rest“. This perception includes the genealogical construction of a sequence of specific legal and philosophical documents, which are claimed to have directly led to the modern international human rights system. Contrary to this dominant conception of human rights history, human rights activists from different cultural backgrounds are motivated by local problems and refer to a diverse range of cultural values in order to argue for their activism. The author comes to the conclusion that the basis for the claim of the Western origin of human rights is indeed weak insofar as non-discrimination, which is at the core of human rights, has been repeatedly denied by Western philosophers, lawyers, and politicians. She concludes that it is not human rights in itself, which are Western, but that dominant forms of perceiving and historic remembrance are based on Western and especially Eurocentric prejudice.