Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

After the Second World War, the profound experiences urged nations to understand the rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled and lay out the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as foundation for national laws, international laws, and treaties, as well as institutions protecting and promoting the inherent human rights suffered during the wars. While the Declaration is receiving praises, criticism also arises out of all kinds of issues of it. Some Islamic countries, even though signed the Declaration, keep arguing the alleged Western bias of the originality and universality of it, which is based on the theory that the Declaration constitutes a culture structure in which “western society finds itself easily at home.”[1] Unlike Islamic countries chose to have an alternative document, i.e. Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, Asian nations choose to develop the articles of the Declaration itself when the universality assumption designed by Western society comes to not fit in with their societies.

The Article 22, which is to confirm a human being’s right to social security and its realization through national and international efforts in accordance with their economic, social and cultural rights, is the basis of Asian nations’ development and ratification of the Declaration. During the World Conference on Human Rights took place in Bangkok in 1993, Bangkok Declaration was adopted by ministers from Asian nations, reaffirming their governmental commitments to the Universal Declaration and its principles. They called for more emphasis on the Article 22 in terms of differences between western society and developing Asian society with respect to economic development over civil and political rights. Some have been criticizing the Asian value perspective is nothing different than Islamic countries hold[2] and destroying the universality of the Declaration, excusing themselves of trampling universally recognized human rights, however, the truth is the Asian perspective of the universality of the Declaration is an objective ratification based on consideration of its economic level and awareness of hardship on them to fully satisfy the standards where western developed countries find easily to. Therefore, it is not an extended critique of human rights universalism, but a promotion of a more elaborated universalism in respect to other members’ realities.

No one seriously cared about human rights 800 years ago while people were still fighting against starving. Human rights are fully and universally recognized only after the society where the people live in has established a solid economic foundation. While the Declaration draw a universally recognized picture whereby human beings can enjoy inherently entitled rights, the Article 22 encourages and motivates people who live in an unsatisfying society to vigorously boost their economy level up for guaranteeing such a beautiful picture.

[1] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (March 17, 2014).

[2] Final Declaration of the Regional Meeting for Asia of the World Conference on Human Rights, (March 17, 2013)

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China Bar Association; Current GWU Law Student; A man had cried at midnight.

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