Solidarity, Development, and Human Rights: The African Challenge

Journal of Religious Ethics 26 (2):305 - 317 (1998)
Contemporary human rights norms originated in the West and are in some tension with the cultural practices of developing nations. The distinctive African charter of rights stresses peoples' rights, questioning the liberal focus on the rights of individuals. Yet with regard to economic rights, Africa and the West face a similar human rights challenge, though for different reasons. The zero-sum politics generated by extreme want guarantee that African people will not escape oppression, poverty, and violence through multiparty politics and free markets alone. Effective commitment to economic rights is needed. This commitment will challenge both existing patterns of power in Africa and the presuppositions of liberal understandings of rights in the West. Only a new consensus in Africa and the West on an inclusive understanding of rights-both civil/political and social/economic/cultural-holds hope for the betterment of African societies.
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