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‘Human rights and human dignity: an analytic critique of non-Western conceptions of human rights’ by Jack Donnelly is an article that presents the discussion based on the origin of human rights. It has been accepted that human rights are the notion which was developed in the West, however, some scientists tried to contradict this idea presenting the arguments that many nations battled for human rights many years before the West did it, therefore, the origin of the human rights is put under question.
Presenting arguments and making all possible to sound convincing Jack Donnelly provides the ideas which show that non-Western people struggled for human dignity trying to make others respect them as human beings. Human rights and human dignity are not interchangeable notions, the meaning is different, therefore, it is impossible to say that non-Western civilizations fought for human rights. Having presented strong arguments, Jack Donnelly has managed to prove that human dignity was fought many years before West was put in the struggle for human rights, however, human rights are the product of the Western civilization.
The idea of the non-Western origin of human rights has been discussed by some scholars who wanted to understand whether the authorship of this notion has been correctly provided or not. The significance of the research is really important for the international system, as being the first civilization who talked about human rights, the West tries to formulate their own vision of the issue. If it comes out that the idea of human rights does not have any Western origin and it is important to search for the roots of the issue in non-Western countries, the whole democratic and human rights system may be changed due to other peculiarities which might be offered by those who have the right to be the creators of the problem.
However, the author of the article managed to prove that the worries are not supported by the arguments and the roots of human rights come from the West. The ideas of human dignity have been presented many years before the rise of modern Western civilization, therefore, the problem has become up to date, still, there is nothing to talk about due to strong arguments and reasonable argumentation.
The failure to identify the notions of human rights and human dignity has become the reason for the problem’s appearance. Looking at the history of non-Western countries, it is really possible to find a lot of examples of human battles for their dignity. The inability to distinguish between the notions of dignity and rights has created this issue for discussion. The article gives a detailed explanation of the issue trying to make sure that all the members of the controversy (the Western representatives and the Easters ones) managed to agree on the final outcome of the discourse.
The problem is really important as the changes in the roots of the human rights appearance could bring a new vision of the problem. However, this has not happened. The ideas of the non-Western origin of human rights could be an interesting issue for discussion and research, however, Jack Donnelly (1982) managed to prove that there is nothing to talk about as the ideas of human rights could not be raised in non-Western countries due to the absence of the necessary concepts there.
Donnelly, J 1982, ‘Human rights and human dignity: an analytic critique of non-Western conceptions of human rights’, The American Political Science Review, vol. 76, no. 2, pp. 303-316.