Democracy & Human Rights:
The Contemporaneous Globality of Human Rights
By Dr. Milos Dokulil, Professor of Philosophy
The notion of human rights seems either too awkward to be discussed, or -- where such rights are not observed -- too remote to be useful. As a political concept it is a rather recent desideratum of our early modern European -- and Euro-American -- society. (, , .) There for the first time “rights” were articulated from the viewpoint of those not privileged and that first as an expression of religious liberties (or freedom of conscience). Therefore human rights need not be conceived as an ideal pattern to be followed or accepted in other cultures/civilizations. Notwithstanding, a 50-year jubilee of their solemn proclamation by the United Nations (Dec 10, 1948) should be mentioned here ().
Owing to the economical-political (but partly also cultural-informational) globalization process in our contemporary world, the field of human rights can develop -- if it has not already developed -- into a sensitive place of worldwide integration. Simultaneously, after September 11th and owing to various measures taken to prevent other possible criminal attacks, some limitations of human rights came into power in the same USA which has normally served as a model of democracy and civic rights since its Constitution (if not since the legendary voyage of the Mayflower in 1620).
If it were not so, there would not be heaping articles in newspapers and journals -- and already even books -- to express a certain concern over those limitations of human (and civic) rights (, ). Even if certain measures have been doomed necessary, the question remains whether a still uncertain gain in security surely is commensurate with less freedom. This feature should be earnestly taken into account not only in the US, but also expressly in those countries which have been recently counted as “culturally opposite”. Such criticisms are a self-imposed complex proof of the freedom of expression/speech as illustrated on one’s proper skin (with no further comment here). At the same time such lamentations show the strange necessity to continually redefine the sequence of the priorities taken as “human/civic rights” and their value. The British journal The Economist (Aug. 31st, 2002) significantly entitled its special report on civil liberties “For whom the Liberty Bell tolls“ and enumerated 13 fundamental violations of human rights for its survey. On the annexed map we can find 38 countries where there are now certain restrictions on human rights. One can say that not only the US but also the whole world is less free now. It surely is the price of how to gain more security. We may ask if such a price is commensurate; whether the eroded freedoms are not another triumph of terrorism. Probably not. But risky it may be if there is not enough public control over such exceptional measures. And if so much is at stake, one can never be wholly sure that excesses of military power or violations of human rights are excluded.
And it can be shown that to keep a watchful eye on either side of the contemporary front fighting terrorism is not an easy affair. Hundreds of prisoners of the Afghan war from Mazar-e Sharif suffocated in containers during their transport to Dasht-e Leili. No one has actually and expressly shown whose the responsibility irrevocably is. (Read the horrible report The Death Convoy of Afghanistan in Newsweek, Aug. 26, 2002, as a bloody example of how difficult it may be to fight terrorism and not be able to assume undivided responsibility for the rules of war on the battlefield and behind.)
Owing to the actual, rather problematic economic, cultural and informational globalization the complex of human rights can become a sensitive point of worldwide integration.
I think that the now very popular Huntington conception of the “clash of civilizations” () does not reflect -- the less so predict -- the real state of affairs. There are qualities in mankind which are common to all of us. First, it is the gift of -- under the normal conditions -- trying to act and react reasonably. To cultivate reason is a noble undertaking not overlooked in any culture/civilization aspiring to build up a rather durable stability and tradition. (For the Oriental tradition it also holds. Not everything has been given/influenced only by the Muslim tradition there, to say nothing of the very important intellectual inspiration of the West after 8th century through the multiform contacts with the Arabs). The values which, at last, historically evolved at the beginning of modernity and which have been called “civic/human rights”, have, of course, evolved in the West, but can be read as “Western” only geographically and historically, not to be qualified as “Western” in their substance and all-human mission.
After September 11th the polemics flared up about the real background meaning of the attack on the US. One thing is the possible vulnerability of the US in similar cases, another one this indicated insecurity about some cultural values. Being proud of being American was one important and positive reaction. Trying to interpret the terrorist attack as a “clash of civilizations” seems to me to be somewhat exaggerated and not to the point. Those indoctrinated young terrorists who committed such a crime on the basis of an unusual suicide flight cannot be judged to be bearers of some “Eastern values”. For their own followers and sympathizers they are martyrs. They also are symbols of a group protest. That protest has been -- verbally -- oriented against the American way of life. I am afraid that the attack -- materially -- could not show any positive cultural values in any way whatever. From the viewpoint of human values/rights those rights/values were deeply humiliated by the terrorists. This has also shown that the common “human rights” can often be seen as not too safe a rule to guide different people. On the other hand, if that shock could create some associated second thoughts on the real priorities in life in both opposite camps of opinion, then that cruel sacrifice was not wholly in vain. (Some of those priorities are to be discussed below.) With a certain receptivity we could also come to see the “invisible“ hand of hunger, illness and premature death in the “Third World” where the road to a decent life is not yet earnestly understood and its orientation is the less so effectively solved. To say nothing of the selfishness of many large companies when they do not spare adequately our natural environment. This also is a violation of humankind’s rights.
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The concept of “human rights” has a theoretical background where legal and moral priorities have to be considered, together with a bit of political phraseology which mostly covers certain social-economic interests from both sides of the rising conflict trying to make a trade-off (if it seems necessary). On the other hand, we may find ourselves confronted by a contemporary coincidence between a declaration of such “common rights” and a flagrant violation of those declared “rights” which are “pragmatically” overlooked (, , ).
In the following text, both the aspects just mentioned have been, at least partially, put under scrutiny.
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Each human being simultaneously lives in various mutually graded -- and at the same time mixed -- worlds. In the abstract, and generally, there are 5 levels in which each person’s life and human dreams and sorrows interact. All of us find ourselves to be 1) under the spell of the “Cartesian” theater in which one’s psyche resides, individually reflects the outside/inner reality and experiences her/his individuality; i.e., experiences her/himself as such, and internally -- relatively -- “free”. Each human being simultaneously exists as a -- in Aristotle’s famous saying -- “zōon politikon”, i.e., “civic creature” which makes several other relationships possible/actual profiled below as under 2) till 5).
The following relations are to be distinguished here: 2) of individuals between themselves as individuals (interpersonally), 3) between an individual and her/his somehow structured institution/community (including families, places of work, corporations, church, sport clubs, the state; “intrasocially”), then 4) internationally (supra-nationally, globally, “cosmopolitically”). And there is yet another relationship, going across, and being reflected in, levels 2), 3), and 4); relationship 5): “between generations”.
On all five levels (with understandable passages and overlappings) a necessity/requirement to project certain “rights” can be ascertained. Within an individual one should find all the necessary conditions for the experience of freedom of conscience. In interpersonal relations, mutual rights and duties of life partners (sexual aspects to be included) should be well understood and observed. For the intrasocial climate we should not overlook the subjects of introducing/prohibiting euthanasia or the death penalty. Internationally, among the most delicate questions counts the “right” to use atomic arms or to operate an atomic plant. Between the generations (and at the same time interpersonally and intrasocially, if not globally) we find reflected/articulated the “right" of a revenue/pension or (un)conditionally legalized abortion.
In general, “rights” are defined as “natural” or “moral” (not always conceptually distinguished), often hinting at their rational background; their result may sometimes be some -- not necessarily written -- law (e.g., Grotius’ legal idealism).
a) In general, a “right“ (as a value) has been intuitively connected with some "good“ as a result of its implementation and fulfillment (, ). Such a good signals its moral anchoring. Thus it always pays to strive for such a “right” (being also simultaneously “good”!). But there emerge at least three problems: some positive possibility of realizing this presupposed “good”, the necessity of harmonizing it with the binding “right/law” and, moreover, the need to put through the given and authorized “right” with its -- intrasocial -- claimability.
b) “Rights” are often characterized as “natural”; and if “natural” then not necessarily positive (enacted as law). (.) Immediately and directly one neither disposes of the measure of their generality, nor of the concrete conclusions following from them. Many a time they have been formulated as “inalienable”. Such a formulation seems seducing. But if the conditions for the enactment of such “rights” have not been effectively secured, such noble reference cannot serve for more than a preliminary (and probably suggestive) articulation of an up-and-coming political pressure later on to make the requirement a written and binding law.
“Human rights” as “rights” share their genesis with the concept of “social contract”; both the terms/concepts are a fiction of political theory. In a real situation some consent to restrictions among the participants to the “rights” or ”contract” is always given with hesitation, as an uneasy compromise and as an emergency way out (). From the articulation of any “rights” to the legislation of actual law (to say nothing of their implementation) there is a rather long and often uneasy (not to say bloody) way.
A classical formulation of “human rights” can be found in John Locke’s Two Treatises on Government (). This heritage has been taken over by Bentham’s utilitarianism or Adam Smith’s liberalism. A “materialized” form of these rights represent two documents of the last quarter of the -- enlightened -- 18th century, the Constitution of the United States and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man. They thus also represent the probably not always easily realized passage from “what is to be” to “what must be” (, ). We have always to register the opposite interests of both sides having a hand in the rights/contract. And, from the viewpoint of ideology, we should not forget the felt dichotomy in expressing the result as either “liberal” or “socially just”.
b1) Negatively articulated (that such “rights” would not be prevented from being effective) such-to-be-rights are often cost-free. The powerful from above (or still privileged) are not forced, from their own side, to actively fulfill anything.
b2) Positively, such rights require not only some legally binding declaration, but also -- if not above all -- some direct and concrete fulfillments/realizations. They may -- and often they do -- represent not small expenditures. Then they are not to be considered to be simply some verbal regulation, but moreover a duty, especially if there are explicit conditions specified for their implementation, together with sanctions when it is not the case.
An awareness of those “rights” implies -- and somewhat, and preliminarily, articulates -- their practical (probably partially felt) necessity. Such “rights” are to be realized in life for those not yet possessing them. Those “rights” immediately draw a line: between those potentially authorized and others who are bound by the proposed “rights” either to some respect, or to some positive fulfillment; and then such proclaimed “rights” cease to be “rights” for them, but are mostly viewed as -- mostly uncomfortable if not troublesome -- “duties”.
To judge the degree of realization of some “liberty” or “right” we have to be familiarized with subjective feelings of individuals who reach the enjoyment of such a “liberty” or “right”. It never can be an abstract “standard”; it is an experienced life value (). One of the important authors of legal theory, H.L.A. Hart, was -- half a century ago -- sure that “right” cannot be adequately defined (). One of the classics of law, Hochfeld, outlined four concepts of “right”, mutually in their relations different ().
And what holds of “right” in general, holds more urgently of the so-called “human rights” if they are to be conceived -- if not also “lived” -- on a concrete basis. In her recent contribution F. Butegwa has missed serious attempts at defining “human rights” which, 50 years after their declaration in/through UNO, she finds rather strange. She outlined a broad spectrum of positions, from abstract to the pragmatic ones ().
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Everything which has been covered by the term “human rights” is quite varied (if not diversified) materially and, in a relevant situation, difficult to judge objectively and efficiently. Many a time some “pragmatic” reasons prevent those responsible/powerful from intervening in cases where such -- sometimes generally accepted -- rights have been violated. Diplomatic/verbal mediations are lengthy and not always effective enough; military actions are still considered an exception not easily to be incontestably -- if not non-contentiously -- vindicated.
In three examples let us now compare the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (valid for more than half a century, ) with the practice.
1) In accord with sub-article 16.3 “[t]he family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society…”, but the text does not in any way say why it is the case, and through what means the family can fulfill such a function. The less the text defines under what conditions the term “fundamental group unit” rightly and legally specifies the intended situation. Motherhood and childhood are cited separately (in art. 25.2). Such too general formulations do not serve anybody, do not bind those responsible for such a union, and especially they do not protect children in their natural environment.
We very well know that families live in another atmosphere within, e.g., the Roman-Catholic principles, in dissimilar conditions in fundamentalist Muslim background, and in a totally other way in partnerships (bi-sexual, and, partly already institutionalized, homosexual) where no religion has been considered. At this level of presentation one hardly can start some effective initiative to finally reach the end of practicing all the three forms of circumcision in girls (example from Sub-Saharan Africa in ). In this case the first three articles of the cited Declaration could/should be helpful; and, of course, art. 16.1 expressly quoting “equal rights as to marriage” and “during marriage” which means equal right to sexual pleasure for both partners ().
2) Or let us have a look at articles 13 and 14. We can read in article 13.2 that “everyone has the right to leave any country” and, in article 14.2, “to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution”. As “persecution” (motivating exile) we can understand many limitations or forms of pressure, not only the political ones, which have not been here specified in any way (see 14.1). But, at the same time, let us not ignore that “everyone has the right to leave any country” unconditionally (13.2). In North America and in Western Europe we can find countries not very happy with illegal immigration and many states, including the US and EU, trying to stop uncontrolled entry. But is there anything “illegal” in that problematic and so sensitive pressure resulting in migration to richer countries? The Universal Declaration formulates the right to leave “any country” without immediately and expressly saying that such a right does not mean to observe that right as a duty in the land of the immigrant’s choice. Discussions in which immigration has been taken as a possible partial solution of the now unfavorable demographic development in most richer countries ignore the fact that the illegal-immigration samples do not mostly bring in highly qualified candidates of new statehood. And if it were so, it would not be good for the fair globalization strategy in poor countries. (, , .)
3) Article 17.1 declares “the right to own property” and article 17.2 moreover says that no one “shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property”. What is meant by the adverb “arbitrarily”? It is not only a terminological or semantic, or specifically legal problem. When interpreted, pragmatically political aspects have always been considered. And then we can again ask what the reasons are when a property has been confiscated “in good faith” (or “for social reasons”) by the state. Is such a procedure “legal”? Or only conceded by the public/the outside world? What is article 17 for? Who is it for, really?
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In this way we could go on for a long time presenting shocking cases of ignoring or not observing human rights and, moreover, acting both contrary to their letter and spirit. If anything is a “right”, it should not be very ennobling (and human) to have to strive for it, not to say be grateful to somebody for its accessibility. The reality of human life is not so idyllic.
“Human rights” start, in a prosaic way (as in John Locke’s writings), with the right of life. If so much has already been told and written concerning the “wealth of nations”, their basic wealth should be humans (not only as subjects creating that -- material -- wealth; , ). To take part in the division of labor, get a proportionate reward for it, live in an ecologically decent and socially safe place, have access to good water and healthy foods should be a -- real and accessible -- “right” for everyone. In this respect the reality of the so-called “Third World” does not testify for it. What is “to be done” (and not only there!) is often very difficult to reach directly and efficiently even if it is relevant and obvious.
In this connection it has been too often told (and also solemnly declared) that the contemporary globalization means the saving solution to nearly all social problems of our world. Globalization should be taken as a recipe for hunger, mortality, dangerous diseases, environmental conservation and personal security (, , , , ). And we know that the treatment of poverty is not so easy. One thing is a somewhat easier mutual communication and access of goods, quite another situation arises out of a constantly greater economic and social gap between the rich and poor countries. The legendary “scissors” modeling this relationship go on opening up.
The US State Department keeps an eye on the efficiency of human rights in 194 countries in the world. The US through its measures in this respect influences other states and presents its priorities. When the “Enron-gate” affair and other similar accounting bubbles were disclosed, it not only lowered the trust in the American stock market but, at the same time, serves as a bad example of practical business ethics (, ). Moreover, such a brisk fall of shares is not only a sign of mismanagement, but also a violation of an important human right, the right of fair business. Insecurity in financial markets also very sensitively lowers the so-called “international aid” to poor countries. (Only four small West-European countries reach the -- by UNO consented -- limit of 0.7% GDP; in this respect the US, giving the not small amount of $9.1 billion, fulfills only 0.1%.) These days a controversy between two important economists -- J. Stiglitz representing the concepts of the World Bank and K. Rogoff of the International Monetary Fund -- has dramatically revealed some sensitive effects of financial aid to foreign governments on their citizens (, ; or also :80; and compare with  and ). We can easily see that such problems have to do with the realization of several “human rights” in the developing countries, too.
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Let us now have a try and enumerate some major “human rights” (cited below as “HR”) and, as an illustration, hint at several hindrances preventing their realization. Some of those rights mutually overlap.
HR of living a sustainable life. We are not yet sure enough what this really means. Is it the -- so difficult -- preservation of our environment? Or also the option of “substitutable” raw materials (animals and plants)? Or, first and foremost, a reasonable balance of production and consumption all over the planet? Or can, by any means, something efficiently be done in nurturing the poor and protecting their health? The UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (1992) instilled much confidence in this respect. Before the following summit in Johannesburg (2002) we could read that “the relentless push for profit” stopped those plans dead (F. Pearce in New Scientist, August 17th, 2002). And B. Bueno de Mesquita and H.L. Root were sure that the roots of poverty were “political” (in The National Interest, No. 68/2002). Let us remark that similar, not very positive, commentaries also followed the Johannesburg summit. The Economist (September 7th, 2002) wrote of “too much effort and… slight results” under the heading of “The bubble-and-squeak-summit” (pp. 81-2).
HR of a hopeful childbirth and childhood. Children should not die due to insufficient care after birth, infection, or bloody clashes. A recent article titled “How to save 1m children a year” (The Economist, July 6th 2002, p. 83), offered a shockingly simple solution of just adding soap and water! Additionally, a very bitter fact is that children have been used/seduced to kill other people, to be sold into serfdom, or -- exceptionally and too early in life -- to commit suicide. It also should not be overlooked that the number of children born out of marriage continuously rises. (In 2002: Iceland an increase of 65%, Sweden 55%; and in relative Christian Austria and Germany already 31% and 23%, respectively) I am not speaking of the family as a necessary institution now. I am not comparing the traditional model with new forms of adult partnership. I bear in mind those children mostly robbed of the possibility to share love and protection from a responsibly bound couple.
HR of having a share in decent social order, including a home. This means, of course, personal freedom and security, the possibility of getting a job and, in case of need, effective access to welfare, the right of free speech and expression of views, etc. Such rights are connected with certain duties of cooperation (civic self-control, aspiration to qualify for a good job, positive activity in the neighborhood of one’s home, etc.).
HR of an efficient and satisfying share in democracy. Such a requirement is not easy to fulfill even in the so-called “established democracies”. If direct democracy, also in exceptional cases, seems to be difficult to realize, this hesitation is understandable from the viewpoint of efficiency and professionalism in complex issues of public administration.
Simultaneously, if we accept the idea that “right-wing” or “left-wing” policies are historically emerged terms more than two centuries old (and without reasonable contemporary connotations), we cannot, notwithstanding, formulate an unquestionable -- not “right- or left-wing", but forward oriented-program. And then the citizens have, anyway, to be grateful to political programs of strong political parties for some regulated choice during the elections. After an election pragmatic reasons, natural catastrophe, financial difficulties, etc., can somehow prevent to realize the program. And the voter’s choice periodically serves only as a means of power to his/her representatives who do not cogently need the voters’ support between electoral terms. And we also know there are “republics” in our contemporary world where either one party or one family for years decides the future (or the succession at the top). There is rarely a spontaneous or natural/legal mechanism/climate to reform it. The right of private appeal against a state has not been generally assured.
HR of a decent economic milieu (and without corruption). This seems to be a “right” imported from a land of fairy-tales. It is a problem of lowered standards in accounting, deregulation debacles, illusions connected with the concept of the “invisible hand of the market”, taxation leakage, or not prevented conflict of interests. It also means a well-controlled public spending policy together with well-balanced public budget.
HR of evading the threat of war (or “civil war”). This is one of those “would-be rights” where it can be shown that every individual has traditionally (if not always) been exposed to many external forces. Thus every individual should have the “right” to avoid participation in, and avoid being a victim of, risky and bloody activities (uprising, guerilla warfare, racial/national oppression/"cleansing", et cetera).
HR of upheld law, and justified and efficient legal practices. This, of course, means to create fairness in the civic, economic, political activities in each country without little or no intervention (or selfish “lobbying” as a steady basis for corruption and social insecurity). It also means to find within the society a favorable seedbed for the creation of civic institutions supporting and criticizing the governmental institutions.
HR of not being threatened by organized crime (including, of course, its bloody terror). Especially alarming is the fact that such crimes are mostly committed by young, very clever and disciplined people (with the corresponding technical means and large financial resources). It is not easy to fight such activities; to fight back without excess should be a rule. Many a time illegal migration and/or work (or promise of lucrative pay, including prostitution) also serve such dangerous purposes.
HR of reasonable solutions of thorny issues. Even relatively innocent issues may become “thorny”, or a good medium of political pressure, or also an unexpected and risky outcome of other less important matters. It is not always easy to judge the adequacy measure if it is necessary to proceed not only against an enemy, but the more so against some prejudice (or bad judgment) of our followers. It is not only the eminent problem of declaring war, but also of where and how to project a highway or a supermarket, whether to stop this or that subsidy, or how to efficiently reallocate limited financial funds.
HR of educational and cultural advance. This is probably one of those “rights” we only rarely miss. Not that they have been so well preserved and respected, but we subconsciously take the bid as “proportionate”, “conventional”, or “customary”. One problem is general education where not only the growing claims to knowledge but also a better proportion of decency and cooperation in mutual/civic behavior (and striving for the “good”) must be stimulated. The consciousness of the inherited cultural (and “ennobling”) tradition slowly evaporates. Which means that one important dimension of our humanness may soon be missing.
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“Human rights” do not seem to be something “chairing us” (:177; difficult to translate the German “das uns Vorgesetzte”). They are the complex of values which those responsible from “above”, together with the public from “below”, should constantly have not only in front of their eyes but in their minds and hearts. We can see there are too many different interpretations of such “rights”. After “Sept. 11th” it is as if there were newly traced barricades here; as if either it were a non-adequate expression of protest of poverty against luxury () or a clash of the East with the West (, ; , , ). Within this context we should not forget that multinational banking, commercial and production companies do not care if they find some dysfunction in the lands where they capitalize their assets. So it will not be easy to pass over from our present to a less troublesome future, be it an “age of information, computerization and nanotechnology” as it may.
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Speaking with sympathy of the so-called “human rights” we cannot forget how easy it is to trample them down and ignore them completely (). We should not forget to continuously bear in mind that only a relative minority of those six billion people on our Earth lives a rather decent -- and “human” -- life. On the other hand considering life with material resources not reaching the level of $1 a day does not immediately enable one to realize that such a life means living without work and education, and sometimes, and moreover, in conditions befallen by epidemics or war. Such people are often prevented from access to healthy water and nourishment (and hygiene in general); to say nothing of swollen abdomens and protruding ribs of their children. Still worse it is when such children lose their second parent to AIDS and cannot, from the start, be acquainted with due patterns of playing social roles.
The world cannot live well (not to say cheerfully) if good life has up to now been reserved only to the relatively few lucky enough to live in a country/society where to participate in its prosperous share has already been granted. In the West there have been four historical phases of welfare to prevent the worst conditions.
At the start we can find the “liberal age” in Britain. It is the period (slightly) from 1833 (and more fully from 1851) to 1914. In Germany social jurisdiction started in 1871 with its unification/foundation. Thus started “social welfare” as an activity from the “Right” for those “below”. After the First World War (and until the beginning of World War II) we can speak of phase II of social welfare; the pressure for its implementation came mostly from the “Left”. (Roosevelt’s New Deal is, of course, an exception.) After the Second World War came the third wave. We can trace a shared interest of both the “Right” and the “Left” in trying to heighten the social standard of not only those “below”, but also including the middle class. At the end of 20th century (surely after the end of the Cold War) we can, as phase IV, find a totally new social and economic structure. The “third sector” records enormous GDP proportions when compared with its previous share (now more than a third of total GDP); and the receding quotient of processing industry in GDP is remarkable. Special problems have arisen with a new wave of bureaucratization of state power (together with more massive corruption), merging of commercial and financial capital (together with bogus accounting), a higher degree of urbanization, longer life expectancy (with not sufficiently assured funding of pensions), computerization of production processes, world-wide internet and e-mail connections, a much higher role of news media and amusement. I am speaking of the developed Western society and its “supers”, not of the “Third” (if not now already “Fourth”?) World. The gap between the rich (and not so rich) countries and the poor ones is larger and larger (regardless some partial improvements in several poor countries). The rather slow -- now going on some 150 years -- development of state intervention in redistribution processes (so efficient in Western countries) cannot be applied in underdeveloped countries and the now unstable “supers”. Too much is at stake. And there is not time enough for preparing long-term reforms tomorrow when international mass crime and terror are ready to subvert stability anywhere in the contemporary world today. And also, let us not forget that the citizen of our time without the corresponding cultural tradition from the past cannot dispose of such a structure as the so-called “civic society”, to be better able to withstand the risks of our contemporaneity.
Until now, globalization has not been sufficiently -- and prospectively -- cautious and welcomingly high-minded. And we have not yet mentioned the -- eventually “natural” -- right to dispose of some internal feelings, enjoyments, mood, but also that special inner silence taking into account this surely great “miracle of life” on this planet. Neither have we analyzed properly those applications of positive discrimination to start some of the yet unconventional “rights”. Nor could we discuss in this context the so necessary correlation of such “rights” with the corresponding “duties”, although it never can be absolute or well balanced. And the, till now so ignored, importance of the first six years of human life where and when we, all of us, learn to know how social roles can be played, could not adequately be stressed either. Responsibility, every time so important, can never be adequately articulated, though it represents the clue not only for the present horizon of human life but also for our inheritors.
The Achilles’ heel in evaluating “human rights“ can surely be found in the insufficiently articulated responsibility (both within those powerful and the powerless) for their general (local, as well as global) fulfillment.
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Central Europe is not an easy region in which to live. Dr. Milos Dokulil was born in the city of Brno in the Czechoslovak Republic ten years after World War I. In Brno he witnessed the end of World War II and the Nazi occupation in April 1945. In 1947 he started his university studies in Prague, both at the University of Political and Social Sciences, where he studied Economics and Politics from 1947 to 1951, and Charles University, where he studied History and Philosophy until 1950. During the purges after the communist takeover he was nearly expelled from academe. To qualify as a university lecturer in languages, he finished his part-time university studies of Czech and Russian in 1957. In December 1961 he was sent to Cuba for a year as an expert in Education and Languages. During those uneasy years, and not sooner than the end of the Fifties, his scientific inclinations led him to an unconventional study of Locke's philosophy. He received his Ph.D. in 1963.
As a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Pedagogy between 1964 and 1969, he prepared four logic manuals for teachers. After the occupation of the country by the Soviets in August 1968, he was, for "political reasons", dismissed from the University. The publication of three of his books was also stopped. For more than twenty years he was prevented from continuing his academic career; his abridged translation of Locke's famous Essay could only be published under the name of his wife in 1984. An expert in yoga, Dr. Dokulil propagated nationwide, with great risk, a healthier conception of life. At the end of the Eighties, a part-time position at the Institute of Analytic Chemistry led to his English translation of an important contribution on isotachophoresis.
After November 1989, the striking students of the Faculty of Education found in Dr. Dokulil their first candidate for the post of Dean. As Chair, he founded a new Department of Philosophy and Civics. In 1991 he served at the LSE in London. He gave lectures abroad and qualified as Dr.Sc. A solemn nomination as Professor by President Havel followed in 1993. During this period, Dr. Dokulil also published a book on the philosophy of history, and one on tolerance. With two co-workers he wrote a manual on modem Czechoslovak history in two volumes, which has been reprinted in subsequent editions. Since 1995, he has been a member of the Faculty of Informatics at Masaryk University in Brno. He is the co-editor and co-author of the three-volume Ethics, published in 1998. In addition, he still lectures full time on the Philosophy of Science, Language and the Mind. During the last decennium, he either has been or still is a member of various academic institutions and boards, starting at his home Masaryk University and including those of Charles University in Prague and Palacky University in Olomouc.
Dr. Dokulil has published articles on Philosophy, Politics, Ethics, the Philosophy of Science, the Philosophy of History, and Religion; additionally, he speaks several languages, including German, Spanish, French and Russian.
Dr. Dokulil is married to Ana Chudoba; they have a daughter, Silvie, and a two grandchildren, Mariette and Filip.
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