Now is the time for the world to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights. We have not been able to produce a special issue concentrating on that wonderful document, but we do offer two articles on particular aspects of human rights. Warren Allmand's article is his speech to the people's summit last year in vancouver, the site of the infamous pepper spraying incident where a cloud was cast over canada's own commitment to human rights. his concerns about the values being expressed through apec have more recently been echoed by other critics, who go so far as to suggest that canada stay home instead of participating in apec meetings where human rights cannot be assured. in various international forums one can hear an old "cultural relativism" being expressed along the following lines: humankind belongs to different cultures, and there can therefore be no "universal" human rights. rights must vary to be consonant with specific cultures. asians have asian values, so we should not have to promise to protect freedom of speech, say, rule of law, or equality for the two sexes. cultural relativism may have been invented by anthropologists for generous motives, but in this day and age it is used for self-serving reasons by people who want to retain their dominant position. the best way to advance human well-being is still the most direct and obvious way: promote all the human rights listed by the universal declaration. allmand thinks that apec has failed to do so and must be brought to account for its shortcomings. likewise, all countries, both rich and poor, need to be reminded that everyone has a right to work, and that governments have a duty to implement that principle.
Peace Magazine Nov-Dec 1998, page 4. Some rights reserved.
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