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If human rights is a potent tool for development, how can it be further promoted in the context of 21st century Philippines? Which actor has the primary duty to perform this task, why? Since human rights refer to the rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status, it is necessary to define the two concepts involved: human and rights.
Based from the Human Genome Project, “all humans, whatever their race, share the same set of genes. Though we share a common history and heritage, racial divisions are socially constructed. This makes the concept of human exclusionary. For example, human rights include the right to life and property. Therefore, everyone should be given the opportunity to live wherever they want and acquire assets such as lands. But we are all bounded by our nationality and every country imposes limits to foreigners on how long they can stay at their territory.
Also, in some countries, foreigners are not eligible to acquire property, such as lands. Everyone is also entitled to the right to work and education without any discrimination. However, public universities only grant free education to locals and not to foreigners. So this implies that the concept of human in the human rights may be exclusionary if it involves nationality. It is inclusionary is a sense that the state should uphold the rights of those in its territory. In order to understand the concept of rights, we should look at it as: natural rights, as legal construct, and as a social construct.
The natural rights refers to the rights that all men possess. Though there are many natural rights, it all rooted from an original right, which is the right that each man has to preserve his life. It followed from the natural law in which the people adopted from the norms and rules in society to maintain harmony and peace. Meanwhile, the rights as a legal construct is when the rights are codified to the laws and constitution of a particular state.
Lastly, the rights as a social construct refers to rights as something that is contested and subjected to power differentials. The state has the role to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of its citizens. But in order to promote this a tool for development, a truly moral community is necessary. Individuals must not only enjoy his own rights but should also respect the right of others. The monitoring body, or the UN, should also fulfill its obligation to balance the rights of different groups and to solve the conflicting ideologies of human rights. As a supranational body, its authority over nations should ensure that no state power by any means oppress its citizens.
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