Global Journal of Politics and Law Research (GJPLR)

EA Journals


The Dark Side of Human Rights in a World of Pluralism, Diversity and Interdependence (Published)

This paper is of the view that human rights are now a settled part of international law and politics. By 2000 the main human rights treaties had been ratified by a large majority of the world’s countries. The idea that there are only negative human rights is partly supported by the contribution of this paper. It argues that rights must be correlated with duties. And it argues that negative rights are correlated with negative duties that are easily assignable to all human beings. So, each person can make a claim against every other person in the world that that person not interfere or harm them. But this paper argues the situation of positive rights, such as a right to education, is not so easy to understand. Who must provide the education to the person in Malawi? Do we (citizens of Nigeria) have a duty to do this? This paper appears to think that this is implausible. Perhaps the state of Malawi has this duty. But in this case, the thought is, we are assigning a duty to an entity that is a contingent product of institutional arrangements. In the case of negative rights, we have them against all persons and no institutional setting is required for determining what duties people have, but it appears that in the case of positive rights, the duties must be assigned by institutions and this will depend on a myriad contingencies making them special rights and not human rights. Hence it is not clear how there can be positive human rights.

Keywords: Human Rights, covenants, negative rights, positive rights, states, treaties

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