Universal Ethical Principles as Foundations of Human Rights

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1. Universal Ethical Principles asFoundations of Human Rights 2. US Declaration of Independence:“endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights”…
  • 1. Universal Ethical Principles asFoundations of Human Rights
  • 2. US Declaration of Independence:“endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights” Declarations of rights in both the United States and France, which are bases of modern political thought, begin with a reference to God as the source of rights: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE - July 4, 1776)
  • 3. French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen: “under the auspices of the Supreme Being” “… the National Assembly recognizes and declares, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of man and of the citizen” recognizing them as “natural, inalienable and sacred.” (Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, Paris, August 26, 1789) If the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a synthesis of previous thinking about human rights, why is there no mention of God?
  • 4. Early Draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “endowed by their nature with reason and conscience”In the draft written by principal author John Humphrey, of Canada, the first article statedthat “human beings are endowed by their nature with reason and conscience.” Thiswording was debated between September 21 and December 8, 1948. Dr. Malik Dr. Malik R. Cassin Dr. Chang The delegation from Brazil suggested that the first article of the Declaration read as follows: “Created in the image and likeness of God, they are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Austregésilo de Athayde
  • 5. Debates in the Commission on Human Rights over a Reference to God “With the goal of defending the rights proclaimed by the declaration, it is important that they not be expressed in terms that are too general. In the Preamble, there should be a reference to God as the absolute origin of human rights, as of all rights. This would recognize the importance of the great spiritual currents for maintaining and developing international cooperation…. The work of the Commission would be much more profoundly tied to the will and hopes of the masses of Austregésilo de Athayde people if, instead of being only a dry expression of Representative of Brazil agnostic philosophy, it would also reflect the in the Commission religious faith of the greater part of humanity.”
  • 6. Debates in the Commission on Human Rights over a Reference to God Charles H. Malik of Lebanon wanted an explicit reference to God in the first article, to establish that people are endowed with “some inalienable rights given by their Creator.” René Cassin of France, among others, did not agree, Charles H. Malik because this could have reduced the universality of the document. Priority was placed on gaining universal support for a proclamation of human rights in a complex world divided by traditions, religions, and ideologies with different view of life . (René Cassin asked that the Declaration be defined as “universal” instead of “international.”) René Cassin
  • 7. Debates in the Commission on Human Rights over a Reference to God Dr. Peng-Chun Chang of China wanted the Declaration to accommodate the Confucian perspective, which acknowledges “heaven” but does not have a concept of God. Han had “God” and “by nature” eliminated from the text of Article 1, which in its final form reads: Dr. Chang Peng-chun “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
  • 8. Consider Adding a Reference to God in Human Rights Documents. More than 60 years later, it is time to consider how to add references to God and absolute values without danger of losing universal acceptance. One way of maintaining universality and respecting all positions is to use the elegant text of the Preamble to the Constitution of Poland, which recognizes "those who believe that God is the origin of justice, beauty and goodness [the bases of human rights] Eleanor Roosevelt holding up the Universal and many other values, and those who Declaration of Human Rights in Spanish. may not believe in God but still appreciate these values.“
  • 9. Human Rights: Granted by Law and Endowed by NatureAdherents of natural law hold that human rights do not reside in legaldocuments but are inherent in our very nature as human beings, a naturethat is superior to and precedes all legal decrees. Religious traditions holdthat such natural rights are God-given characteristics.Adherents of positivism hold that the only rights are those accorded bylegal documents. “Rights are not something pre-existing by nature whichwe may discovered, such as chromosomes or continents. Rights aresomething that we create through our conventions. Thus, the question isnot what rights do creatures have but rather what rights do we want tohave?” - Jesús Mosterín. “Creating Rights.” El País, August 29, 1999
  • 10. Human Rights: Granted by Law and Endowed by Nature "Only if they are grounded in the objective requirements of the nature bestowed on man by the Creator, can the rights attributed to him be affirmed without fear of contradiction.... Consequently it is important for international agencies not to lose sight of the natural foundation of human rights. This would enable them to avoid the risk, unfortunately ever- present, of sliding towards a merely positivistic interpretation of those rights.”Benedict XVI. Message on the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2007
  • 11. Human Rights: Granted by Law and Endowed by Nature The protection of love and life, freedom of conscience and responsibility as well as property and many other inalienable rights do not exist merely because some people have discovered or recognized them or because laws have been decreed about them. On the contrary, love, life, freedom of conscience, and responsibility as well as property in fact existed before hand. This gave people the need to make laws for their protection.The existence of a written constitution which expresses the sovereign will ofthe people and their families in terms of principles of justice and natural lawis the most effective protection against the abuse of power, destruction ofliberty, and human weaknesses of those who govern us.
  • 12. Human Rights Are Conferred by God. Each and every human being, without distinction of gender, race, ethnicity, class or social condition possesses the same special dignity, by nature or because it was conferred by God, which distinguishes them from the rest of the creatures, and they bear the same sacred, cosmic, unique, and eternal value which is innate and intrinsic to their human condition, and therefore they all merit the same exquisite consideration and greatest respect. (Dr. Miguel Angel Cano – Ethics and Peace)
  • 13. Each Person Has Sacred Value.Judaism: “Then the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground,and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a livingbeing.” Genesis 2.7Christianity: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’sspirit dwells in you?” I Corinthians 3:16Islam: “He shaped him, and breathed His spirit in him.” Qur’an 32.8-9Sikhism: “All from one clay are made; in all one Light shines. One breathpervades all.” Adi Granth, Gauri, M.5 p. 188Hinduism: “That which is the finest essence—this whole world has that asits soul. That is Reality. That is the Self. That art thou.” Changogya Upanishad6.8.7Confucianism: “Fire blazing from the earth. The superior man reflects inhis person the glory of [Heaven’s] virtue.” I Ching 35: Progress
  • 14. Each Person Has Cosmic Value.Judaism: “All that the Holy One created in the world He created in man.”Talmud. Abot de Rabbi Nathan 31Christianity: “For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world andforfeits his life?” Matthew 16:26Islam: “We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in themselves,till it is clear to them that it is the truth.” Qur’an. 41.53Hinduism: “Man is the product of the attributes of Heaven and Earth, by theinteraction of the dual forces of nature, the union of the animal andintelligent souls, and the finest subtle matter o the five elements.” AitareyaUpanishad 1.1Buddhism: “The Essence of Mind is great because it embraces all things,since all things are within our nature.” Sutra of Hui Neng 2
  • 15. Each Person Has Unique Value.Judaism: “If a man strikes many coins from one mold, they all resembleone another, but the King of Kings, the Holy One, made each man in theimage of Adam, and yet not one of them resembles his fellow.” MishnahSanhedrin 4.5Christianity: “It is not the will of your father who is in heaven that onethese little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:14Islam: “We prescribe for the Children of Israel that whoever kills a humanbeing, except to retaliate for manslaughter or for corruption done in the land,it shall be as if he had killed all of humanity; and whoso saves the life of one,it shall be as if he had saved the lives of all humankind.” Qur’an 5:32Buddhism: “In heaven and on earth, I alone am the Honored One.” Ch’angA-han Ching
  • 16. Transcendent Value Endowed by God Each person has sacred, cosmic, and unique value and is endowed withirrevocable dignity; therefore, people are not means but ends in themselves. Sacred value. We have intrinsic and inalienable dignity as visible manifestations of the invisible Creator. Cosmic value. We are microcosms of the macrocosm. Unique Value - Never will there be another person exactly like each one of us. We are unique, unrepeatable and irreplaceable. The fact that each person has these transcendent values is the basis of universal human rights and an ethical society.
  • 17. Religion Gives Both Vertical and Horizontal Orientation. Spiritual and religions traditions have a vertical role, which calls us to a relationship with the Creator, and a horizontal dimension, which calls us to accept, respect, and love others. GOD HUMANITYJudaism: “You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, and with all yoursoul, and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:5Christianity: “Our Father, who art in heaven.” Matthew 6:9Islam: “In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful.” Qur’an 1:1Confucianism: “The superior man, taking his stance as righteousness requires,adheres firmly to Heaven’s decrees.” I Ching 50: Sacrificial vesselHinduism: “From the unreal lead me to the Real! From darkness lead me to thelight!” Brihaaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28
  • 18. Universal Principle of Reciprocal Relations Human beings—just as all creatures and all things—are not made to exist or live alone, Principle of Interaction isolated or completely independent. Instead, they are configured by nature or by God to maintain multiple physiological interactionsAction of Giving and Receiving within themselves and with their environment. Therefore, we establish—in voluntary, Subject Object responsible and creative forms—a series of role role fluid, harmonious, and stable relationships in which we reciprocally exchange love, affection, care, ideas, knowledge, goods, and services with other human beings and other creatures. This is vital for the preservation of our existence, multiplication, the development of Existence our character, the cultivation of our talents, and Action our ability to experience the highest degree of Reproduction joy and shared happiness. (Dr. Miguel Angel Cano – Ethics and Peace)
  • 19. Natural Law of Karma - Cosmic JusticeJudaism: “I the Lord search the mind and try the heart, to give to every manaccording to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:10Christianity: “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7Islam: “Whatever affliction may visit you is for what your own hands haveearned.” Qur’an 42:30Hinduism: “Unrighteousness, practiced in this world, does not at onceproduce its fruit; but, like a cow, advancing slowly, it cuts off the roots ofhim who committed it.” Laws of Manu 4:172Buddhism: “An ignorant man committing evil deeds does not realize theconsequences. The imprudent man is consumed by his own deeds, like oneburnt by a fire.” Dhammapada 136Taoism: “In heaven and earth there are spirits that take account of men’stransgressions, and, according to the lightness or gravity of their offenses,take away from the term of their life.” Treatise on Response and Retribution 1-2African Traditional Religions: “Ashes fly back in the face of him who throwsthem.” Yoruba proverb (Nigeria)
  • 20. Moral Law Expressed in Religious Codes • Don’t rob. • Don’t lie.Basic prohibitions: • Don’t kill. • Don’t have illicit sexual relations. People People These prevent bad interactions. Judaism and Christianity: 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) Islam: Sacred duties (Qur’an 6:151-53) Hinduism: Universally applicable dharma (Laws of Manu) Buddhism: Five Precepts (Nagarjuna, Precious Garland 809)
  • 21. Justice and Reciprocity in Both Natural Law and Moral Law Justice Judaism: “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.” Micah 6:8 Islam: “Stand out firmly for justice.” Qur’an 4:135 Confucianism: “Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness.” Analects 14:36 Reciprocity Hinduism: “According as one conducts himself, so does he become.” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.5 Buddhism: “According to what deeds are done, do their resulting consequences come to be.” Garland Sutra 10 People People Families Families Communities Communities Nations Nations
  • 22. Golden Rule: Treat Others as You Wish Them to Treat You.Christianity: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." ( Matthew 7:12)Islam: “No one is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” (Sunnah)African Traditional Religions: “What you give - or do - to others, they will give - or do - to you." (Rwandan proverb)Silver Rule: Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you.Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you." (Mahabharata 5:15, 17).Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." (Udana-varga 5:18)Confucianism: “Surely it is the maxim of loving kindness: Do not unto others what you would not have them do to you." (Analects 15:23)Judaism: ”What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary." (Talmud, Shabbat 31a) God is the source of love, life and peace… Those who promote conflict, hatred, violence and terrorism have to be informed that to the extent to which they do that, to that extent they are not good members of any religion. (Cardinal Francis Arinze - Assisi, January 24, 2002)
  • 23. Benefits of Living by the Moral Law Judaism: “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” Psalm 19:7 Christianity: “He who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being not a hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.” James 1:25 Islam: “Let there arise out of you a group of people, inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong.” Qur’an 3:104 Hinduism: “Those who live in accordance with the divine laws without complaining, firmly established in faith, are released from karma.” Bhagavad Gita 3.31 Buddhism: “He who loves Dhamma progresses, he who hates it declines.” (Sutta Nipata 92) Confucianism: “The moral man’s life is an exemplification of the universal order, because he is a moral person who unceasingly cultivates his true self or moral being.” Doctrine of the Mean 2 Native American Religions: “The power of the universe will come to your assistance if your heart and mind are in unity.” Lakota
  • 24. Principle of Development Through Cooperation Centered on a Common PurposeThe progress or development of humanity—whether economic, scientific, technical,artistic, or social—produces principally, by means of communication, understanding,dialogue, or consensus, a harmonious cooperation and mutual interdependence amongindividuals, families, communities, nations and civilizations, centered on commonpurposes and shared goals, and not by means of fighting, conflict, or mutualdestruction. Common purpose - shared goals High purpose, mutual benefit People People Families Families Communities Communities Nations Nations Progress is based on ethical interaction.
  • 25. CooperationJudaism: “All Gods creatures borrow from the other, yet make peace withone another without lawsuits.” Midrash, Exodus Rabbah 31.154Christianity: “We are members one of another.” Ephesians 4.255Islam: “Abu Musa narrated that the Prophet said, ‘A believer to anotherbeliever is like a building whose different parts enforce each other.’” Hadith ofBukhari 8:55Buddhism: “It is not difficult to see that my body is also that of others inthe same way as the hands and so forth are regarded as limbs of the body.”Shantideva, Guide to the Bodhisattvas Way of Life 8.112-167.Taoism: “Everything has its ‘that’; everything has its ‘this’. From the pointof view of ‘that’ you cannot see it, but through understanding you can knowit. So I say, ‘that’ comes out of ‘this’ and ‘this’ depends on ‘that’--which is tosay that ‘this’ and ‘that’ give birth to each other. A state in which ‘this’ and‘that’ no longer find their opposites is called the Hinge of the Way. When thehinge is fitted into the socket, it can respond endlessly.” Chuang Tzu 2
  • 26. Serving the Common Good Living for Others Highest value God Divine children World Saints Your nation Patriots Living for… Your community Leaders Your family Parents People Only for yourself Self-centered Little value“…he who wishes to be great among let him be a servant… the Son of man came not tobe served but to serve…” (Matthew 20: 26-28)
  • 27. Serving the Common GoodIslam: “There is not one of us but has his appointed position, and we areverily ranged in ranks [for service].” Qur’an 37:164-65Hinduism: “Strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world; by devotion toselfless work one attains the supreme goal in life.” Bhagavad Gita 3:23Confucianism: “When the Great Tao prevailed, the world was acommonwealth; men of talent and virtue were selected, mutual confidencewas emphasized, and brotherhood was cultivated. Therefore, men did notregard as parents only their own parents, nor did they treat as sons only theirown sons. Old people were able to enjoy their old age; young men were able toemploy their talents….They hated not to use their energies, and they usedtheir energies not for their own benefit.” Book of Ritual 7:1.2Judaism: “I am God’s creature and my peasant neighbor is God’s creature. Mywork is in the town and his work is in the country. I rise early for my work andhe rises early for his work.” Talmud. Berakot 17aChristianity: “Let no one seek his own good but the good of his neighbor.”1 Corinthians 10:24African Traditional Religions: “Guardianship is not to give an order but to giveone’s self.” Nyika Proverb (Kenya and Tanzania)
  • 28. The Family as the School of Love and Seedbed of PeaceBasic ethical imperatives: filial piety fraternity fidelity in marriage loyalty Parents Children Husband Wife These promote good interactions Siblings People Siblings People Filial PietyJudaism & Christianity: “Honor your father and your mother.” Exodus 20.12Islam: “The Lord has decreed … that you be kind to your parents.” Qur’an 17.23Hinduism: “Let your mother be to you like unto a god! Let your father be to you like unto agod!” Taittiriyaka Upanishad 1:11.2Buddhism: “Those who wish to b
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