Confronting Myths and Misunderstandings
Chapter 7: Accentuating the positive
INTRODUCTION We have now reached the final chapter of this work. The previous chapters each addressed a particular myth or misunderstanding of human rights. While myths are characteristically more purposeful than misunderstandings, I have argued that the persistence of both is both potentially and actually harmful to the human rights cause. In contrast to those who have declared us to be living amidst a veritable age of human rights, I have argued that the status and possession of human rights are rather more tenuous and precarious than such pronouncements would suggest. In actual fact, human rights are abused everywhere. Some forms of abuse are long-standing and systematic, while others are more piecemeal and episodic. Human rights offer the vision of a world in which all human beings are free from the threat of systematic and significant suffering. Realising that vision remains a distant prospect for far too many and a constant reminder of how much human rights work remains to be done. My analysis and discussion in the previous chapters have been, admittedly, somewhat negative in character. I have sought to find fault and weaknesses in other people’s arguments and conceptions. Contrary to popular parlance (and having worked in both industries) the demolition of a structure actually is not any less difficult than the building of one. Each has its own particular set of specialised tasks and considerations. Each must be performed with care and attention. However, there is always something slightly disappointing about human endeavour which leaves nothing intact...
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