Development best way to protect human rights
Editor's note: At the China-Europe Seminar on Human Rights in Rome on Sept 20, experts shared their views on the human rights development. Excerpts of some experts' essays follow:
Mutual respect essential
Each nation has evolved, often over centuries, with its own history, institutions, traditions, ways of living and philosophy. Such evolution has not taken place in a vacuum but through a process of exchange and learning from other parts of the world. Yet each nation has developed its own characteristics.
Mutual learning has over the centuries enabled societies to develop and flourish. Despite that, the receiving societies retained their own characteristics, with innovation and integration often creating new achievements but without one society being dominated by the other.
The outcomes have been harsh in cases where societies lacked or didn't have mutual respect. The enslavement of the African peoples, the Holocaust, the Opium Wars all display one commonality: an aggressive lack of respect based on an assumption of a superiority of one set of people over others. In contrast, exchanges and learning based on the recognition of the worth of the other has produced enduring benefits.
In discussions on human rights and different societies adopting different approaches, there are no discernible benefits from confrontation. Turning a discussion into an argument to prove one approach is superior to the others goes against the whole idea of human rights.
A discussion based on mutual respect allows all parties to understand why different societies adopted different approaches to human rights. The difference in the governance of human affairs across countries suggests one society's policy is unlikely to apply to another, especially if the latter has different priorities, traditions, history and culture. The purpose of discussion should be to learn from one another, to share experiences and to understand one another, not to promote division between peoples.
Neil Davidson, Lord Davidson of Glen Clova KC