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ASU Human Rights Controversies Discussion

ASU Human Rights Controversies Discussion


Within Alma’s post, an important observation is made stating that although Human Rights involve characteristics and implications guaranteeing someone’s ability to exist with equal treatment, some explanations and definitions of Human Rights include various controversies. They mentioned one such controversy being the disruption of social order, and I would add that some groups of people (considered “dominant groups”) have an unfair advantage over those fighting for Human Rights. Due to the disruptive nature of Human Rights “Dominant groups often deny that the demands of oppressed populations are human rights demands at all, dismissing them instead as divisive forms of “identity politics” that seek to “shame,” “punish,” or “humiliate”- and ultimately “control” – the dominant group” (Goodhart, 2023, p. 67). Seeing as Human Rights are “treated as “above politics”, neutral or impartial standards specifying what counts as acceptable treatment of human beings” (Goodhart, 2023, p.49) I am left to wonder how a group can identify itself as dominant in the first place, taking power over what can be considered Human Rights, and would argue that this is one of the most pressing controversies facing Human rights in general.

Alma did mention the fact that Human Rights often challenge these dominant groups, stating that they “…challenge prevailing social structures rooted in dominant forms of authority and [it] is used frequently by activists to build a “communicative counter-hegemony” that challenges dominant authorities and ideologies that justify power”. These dominant groups are most often politicians in places of high power, and the small but mighty wealthy sector of our population. It is unfortunate and important to note that the “elites often help to manufacture this kind of popular resentment toward oppressed and minoritized populations” (Goodhart, 2023, p.67).

All this said, I find it challenging to really understand the true definition of Human Rights considering the controversies that present themselves in various forms around the subject. There are so many variables and contradicting definitions. However, this is understandable considering this is a growing field. Over the years, we have had the opportunity to utilize “better tools for identifying and measuring human rights performance and monitoring compliance with human rights obligations” (Goodhart, 2023, 1) and I can imagine this field of study will become more and more defined as concepts and ideas are expanded.


Goodhart, M. (2023). Human Rights: Theory and Practice. Oxford University Press.

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