In his book Human Rights and Global Diversity, Robert Paul Churchill aims to identify and emphasize the universality of human rights, arguing that “human beings everywhere have the same human right” (Churchill xi). Churchill proposes that crosscultural negotiations must be implemented to bridge the gap between cultural differences and gain international consensus of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
With respect to valuing the UDHR and promoting universal human rights regardless of culture, the best method of cross-cultural negotiation is the transformational strategy. This method would be the most successful because its broad use of human rights language allows for worldwide communication and participation, thus eliminating the restrictive use of historical documents, implementation of solely Western values, and presumption that some rights are more basic than others giving way to excessive permissible interpretation.
Developed by philosopher Jay Drydyk, the transformational strategy operates under the notions that “human rights are justifiable from within all cultures” and while many nations hold a conception of human rights, “their conceptions may be either “defective” or “incomplete” or both”” (Churchill 92). The terms defective and incomplete refer to the limitations and extension of rights to ingroups and out-groups. The transformational strategy functions with the notion that this strategy can transform ideas about rights using discourse ethics or a dialectic, focusing on participation, and consensus through rationalization and reasoning.
By using a transformational strategy, the dialogic process in which it operates promote change within a country rather than asserting a Western view on said nations, and encouraging unimpeded dialogue. While this strategy seems idealistic (Churchill 96), it is not impossible. By focusing on consensus through reasoning the rights language, regardless of culture, becomes less likely to get dislodged later because it is rooted in the fundamentals of argumentative claims.
The transformational strategy can furthermore be successful due to the promotion of an international public forum in which “the society or group justifies the protection of members against standard threats that exemplify fundamental dangers to humans” (Churchill 93). This dialogic process is imperative to the transformational strategy and to achieving a “progressive consensus among a majority of countries on the justifiability of… rights” (Churchill 95), devoid of a view that is one-sided, specifically Western.
Although the other strategies proposed also deal with themes incorporating the necessity of a dialogic process, and critical reflection, the transformational strategy eliminates the need for the wide range of interpretations of rights, as well as use of historical/religious texts. Take for example Article 18 in the UDHR, which states the right to freedom of thought and religion, as well as the freedom to change religion or belief regardless of setting. In the Muslim culture, under Shari’a law, apostasy is considered illegal and is punishable by death (Churchill 111).
According to the transformational strategy, the violation of this right is considered a defective view because not only are those who renounce their faith punishable by law, but are also considered unequal in their citizenship with the practicing Muslims. The goal of transformation strategy is to use effective communication tools to produce the same results, protection of universal rights, in all cultures. In order to contest this violation of freedom of belief and religion, justifications for these rights need to be understood within their culture, regardless of the manner in which it is described.
It is important to this strategy that everyone involved recognize the “knowledge of care, neglect, and abuse” (Churchill 94) that can be found in the roots of any culture globally. In this scenario there would need to be an international forum requiring participation and representation of all nations under the UN. In this dialogic process the Muslim population would be required to participate in a discussion where they plead their case arguing for the removal of freedom of religion and belief.
Within this public forum it would be addressed that those who have renounced their faith are not neglecting, abusing, or harming other individuals or property. Until the renouncement of faith negatively impacts the community it is unfeasible for them to be tried for a capital offense. The personal worldview imperative discussed under the strategy of worldview integration can be viewed as the linchpin in scenarios such as these because a “worldwide context for moral discussion, a global public sphere of moral deliberation” (Churchill 95) is necessary for success in this strategy.
If one were to approach this infringement of rights using the internal validation strategy, then the historical documents of the Muslim culture that formulated Shari’a law would need to be analyzed and interpreted in such a way that would convey to the Islamic people that they are committing a violation of rights. The interpretation and analysis needed would require deep understanding of their historical context and would open up the possibility that the documents may be taken out of context in order to meet certain ends, i. e. revoke punishment for apostasy.
Similarly, to approach the violation of Article 18 using the strategy for accommodation proposed by Jack Donnelly would be no more successful. This strategy is considered to be a form of “weak cultural relativism”(98) in which each cultural is presumed to have the same basic core of rights, but depending on the culture there are differences and interpretations of rights that can be deemed permissible based on need. While it is important to be “open to some possibly permissible variations in the way that human rights norms are applied” (90), this strategy of accommodation focuses more on policy work and less on a strategy.
Although like the transformational strategy there need not be distinct laws written down, the strategy of accommodation differs in that there is no distinction who has the right to make or enforce the perceptions and variations of rights. Furthermore the accommodation is faulty in its ability to transition cultural regards to a global scale. Despite the fact that Donnelly argues for a core of central most basic rights, he argues that with some of those basic rights there is no need to claim them based off of their cultural practices, indicating the flexibility of interpretation.
Especially in this scenario in which the ill-protection of freedom of religion may end in death, the strategy of accommodation would merely look at the “general consensus within the society, rather than on conceptions of standard threats or of human dignity that are cross-cultural in an important step” (103). In conclusion, the transformational strategy is superior to the other strategies discussed in Churchill’s book because while it is the most idealistic and has perceived difficulty, it promotes the best case for successful dialogue on the global level.
There is some discrepancy on the knowledge of human rights discourse necessary to enact the transformational strategy, and while education and knowledge of the status of nations on the international level is important, the focus is on the participation of discourse. Whereas the strategy of accommodation focuses on the ability to expand and contract rights based on the need to claim the right depending on the cultural beliefs, the transformational strategy uses a broad sense of rights that can be inclusive and unwavering cross-culturally.
Furthermore with respect to internal validation as a strategy, the transformational strategy is much more successful because there is no need to use religious or historical texts to try and change their view on rights discourse. By using language and an international forum allowing representation from all nations there is less likely to be confusion and misinterpretation of the protected rights and responsibilities. Works Cited Churchill, Robert Paul. Human Rights and Global Diversity. Pearson Education, 2006. Print.