Human rights: A moving reality

By Pierre Bercis
0 CommentsPrint E-mail CSHRS, November 6, 2009
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Many people and organizations have a defensive and conservative conception of human rights. Their only goal is to protect the achievements of both the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Universal Declaration of Human rights, respectively adopted in 1789 and 1948.

While this is necessary, it is not however our idea of the human rights philosophy. In our opinion, they must move toward an expansion matching the world changes on all fronts (scientific, medical, technological, economic, cultural, etc.). We must constantly improve their content so that people feel freer than in the past.

Everything is not possible immediately. But it is a goal, a permanent goal, an ideal society.

Of course, peoples don't make progress at the same speed. We must consider the level of development of each one of them. But the ideal is to move forward together "in harmony," as our Chinese friends often rightly repeat.

We need a common horizon for all humanity. This is how Europe, through the action of its workers, has gained economic and social rights in the 19th and 20th century.

These new rights were added to the traditional human rights core, for instance freedom of expression, freedom of movement etc. This is why we are pleased to see that China and the United States are currently introducing a social welfare system for their people, joining Europe in this regard.

However, our organization, New Human Rights, believes that progress shouldn't stop there. We want other human rights, and we ask our friends to share this dynamic conception of human rights with us.

Therefore we ask each and every one of you to lobby for the recognition of the "right to peace", for this right is often mentioned in the texts of the UN, but not recognized by the Universal Declaration, which is regrettable. Without peace, which people can live happily? It is certainly not a utopia but a basic need to achieve happiness, development and harmony.

Secularism is another human right that we chose to fight for in France as well as in the rest of the world. One says it's a French word, meaningless elsewhere.

I disagree and I would like to remind you of its definition.

Secularism means that if religions must be respected, their rule should not lead civil society or governments. Religions are a personal matter, a private matter.

As you know that science is evolving at great speed, you cannot ignore either that the tremendous progress it brings can also affect the physical, psychological and genetic integrity of individuals. This is what fascist states were planning to do during the war by conducting experiments in Europe and I believe the Japanese intended to do the same in China. Thus we believe the universal consciousness must be vigilant on this issue and prohibit certain practices that could alter human nature in the future. Cloning especially must be authorized only for therapeutic purposes.

I don't want to be too long, so I will mention only one more new human right, one that is necessary to reach that state of harmony we all aspire to – the right of respect for cultural diversity.

The world is rich with cultural and linguistic pluralism. It is fortunate that the Chinese have a different language and culture than French people. It's also fortunate that our African friends are different from Americans or Europeans. And yet right now this diversity of peoples is threatened.

It is threatened by the hegemony of a single model – the United States of America's, which is gradually gaining ground in various ways. Our languages, our information, our cinema, our way of life in society, the way we eat, our dress code recede slowly toward uniformity.

Of what interest will be the world of tomorrow if from one end to the other of the planet it has the same color, the same taste, the same aspect?

Culture is like animal and plant biodiversity, which we call the "right to live in a healthy environment." One should respect what is natural. Everyone, wherever they are, without looking at the past but rather looking toward the future, must fight to protect the world's wealth at all levels. This is the condition of the harmony we want with you.

Let's keep the dialogue open.

(The author is President of the New Human Rights Association [Nouveaux Droits de l'Homme], France)

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