Kakama and Rebels II (Seeds of Empowerment - 1001 Stories Series)

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It led Cecilia to start saying words of kindness to others and actually praise them and by keep doing that she gradually became grateful and happy. Thanks to the letter she learned to see the world with positive eyes. We shared this story with 6 children, all 3 years old, asked them to praise themselves first in order to praise others. They made their own happy faces with chocolate balls. Taking a story from a student in Ghan Students at six of our Stratford campuses will participate in Dr. Paul Kim's 1, Stories project this year. Kim to learn about the project.

Seeds of Empowerment. These young students will be publishing and exhibiting the finalized stories next year.

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  • Ogres Is (A Short Story);
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You can read stories of real children from Seeds of Empowerment stories program. Partnering with Worldreader, we are reaching over 6 million children around the world! Recently, thanks to Dr. We had a group of 8 children, all 3 years old, who were totally obsessed with the story. Exposed to the true story happening in the other parts of the globe for the very first time in their lives, they seemed rather shocked but all of them were passionately participating in the discussion expressing their feelings and thoughts. They made their own faces with colored papers and said cheering messages to Kakama and the author, Janet.

From the last year's story competition in Ghana, 12 stories have been selected and published. The new stories will be further finalized and made available through WorldReader program which reaches over 6 million children around the world. Amazing to see how they discuss which questions deserve 5 stars. Very promising. Jump to. Sections of this page.

Accessibility Help. Email or Phone Password Forgot account? For the first time human rights were elevated to a position of global concern, described by Winston Churchill as the enthronement of human rights.

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  6. The view of cultural relativism, under the doctrine of multiculturalism, was inserted into the human rights discourse in , when the American Anthropological Association rejected the applicability of any Dec- laration of Human Rights to mankind as a whole. Its statement explicitly stressed that the rights of Man cannot be circumscribed by the standards of any single culture, or be dictated by the aspirations of any single people.

    It has been argued that many human rights norms possess a distinctively Western or Judeo-Christian bias, reflecting as- sumptions that the values of other cultures, peoples and races are inferior. Hence, it is asserted they are ethnocentric. For instance, the notion of universal human rights has been opposed in Asia and Africa on the grounds that Western notions of human rights are founded on the idea of the personal autonomy of individuals, which those cultures do not hold as a fundamental virtue, in contrast to communitarian values.

    Relativists further contend that other cultures have virtues of their own, to which their members are held accountable. Another argument in favour of cross-cultural relativism, is the view that developing states cannot be expected to implement political and civil rights fully,as long as they have not reached a level of economic development; these states must give priority to economic development, in order to facilitate the realization of civil and political rights. The international instruments them- selves attach equal weight to both sets of rights.

    Furthermore, the United Na- tions General Assembly and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights have confirmed that human rights are indivisible, interdependent, and deserve the same amount of attention. The theory that human rights are relative has gradually lost ground. Cultural relativists have found it increasingly difficult to sustain their position.

    For example, no culture tolerates indiscrimi- nate lying, stealing or violence within the group. The universality of incest taboo. A limitation on the number of deaths that might be inflicted in legitimate acts of revenge. The universal acceptance of the Golden Rule, a universal prin- ciple for human relations, as a fundamental ethical truth.

    Under what has been termed a Minimal Globalism, it is thought that the concept of human rights is universal but that rights vary among different societ- ies. Historical de- velopments certainly support the view. For example, religious, racial, sexual and ethnic discrimination have been widely practiced but are indefensible today. It is generally agreed that core rights, such as the right to life, security of person, prohibition of discrimination, and freedom of thought, conscience and religion are not subject to cultural definitions and applications.

    The view remains compelling that since when the signatories of the United Nations Charter affirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, basi- cally on the principle of the dignity and worth of the human person, no state can claim that the denial of such rights to its own citizens is solely its own business.

    To this end, in , at the World Congress on Human Rights, the representa- tives adopted by concensus the Vienna Declaration, which states of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all articulated in the Universal Declara- tion of Human Rights and elsewhere: The universal nature of these rights and freedoms is beyond question Human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright of all human beings; their protection and promotion is the first responsibility of Government. Obviously the guiding principle of the universality of human rights has been subject to the exigencies of special political interests; for the human rights movement is not inseparable from the political process.

    Yet, it is plain that a broader acceptance of the universality of rights, limiting what a state may do to its citizens, seems to be precisely what the political problems of our age ur- gently require. The world has undoubtedly gained a great deal from the fact that since the acceptance of the Universal Declaration efforts for the imple- mentation of basic human rights have become increasingly a feature of interna- tional relations, conventions and diplomacy.

    The massive violations prove, however, a cynical disregard of its principles on the part of some governments. There are still innumerable persons oppressed who have not yet felt the ben- efits of the principle of universality. For my part, I am delighted to say that as early as , the Bah Faith, in a written presentation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, of- fered its support for an international system of human rights. Subsequently, the Bah International Community has consistently shared the merits of this fundamental ideal.

    The following is a representative statement:. The goal of the international community is to build a world family of nations, whose members have equal rights, privileges, duties and responsibilities, and share a dedication to peace and to the upholding of a common set of human values; to create a global society which protects the human rights of every member, respect his dignity and individuality, and provides for the full development of his potential, so that he may be of service to his fellow human beings and make his contribution toward the building of an ever-advancing civilization.

    More recently, the Statement of the Bah International Community, Turning Point For All Nations, presented on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations, offers new ways of thinking about human rights, within the broad context of the evolution of an integrated global society. The way has been cleared for new definitions of human rights and affirmation of personal dignity, it states, and that new levels of consciousness have been reached on global programs to promote human rights 9 Accordingly, it is highly encouraging, that from the universality relativity discussions powerful insight has emerged about our rich diversity of cultures, and some specific features of African, Asian, and indigenous cultures, to men- tion only a few.

    A deeper appreciation has thus been established for the global moral imperatives in the holy scriptures of the world religions, which are the root-genesis of the spiritual values found in human rights instruments. A broader awareness has developed, given the evolutionary nature of human rights, that different cultural traditions may contribute positively by raising new areas of concern, adding more rights, and generally informing the movement with addi- tional values.

    I turn now to a consideration of the possible advantages the principles of the oneness of mankind may hold for the ideal of human rights. The legal in- struments and the literature on human rights demonstrate the critical role that. References to such moral principles, or basic values, as human dignity and non-discrimination are in a great number of legal instruments. The description of the moral values are expressed variously as human rights principles, universal principles, ide- als, values, concepts,goals, fundamentals,norms, axioms, standards,and utilities.

    Of course, the merit of these normative concepts is that they do not offer a detailed statement of vision,or scope, or practical measures for imple- mentation. They provide a dynamic, a perspective,and a will for achieving the undertaking. They influence perceptions and attitudes, which invigorates the process of the evolution and implementation of human rights. Suffice it to recall, as well, that many international human rights instruments declare that their contents are based on the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations. Other Covenants are based on respect for the principle of equal rights universal respect for, and obser- vance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion 12; the principle of the dignity and equality of all human beings13; the principle of non-discrimination 14; the principle of equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value15; the Declaration of Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary16; and the Declaration on Social and Legal Principles relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children17 The universal principle of the dignity of the human person occupies a prominent position.

    It appears in the Preamble of the United Nations Charter as an ideal that we the peoples of the United Nations are determined to achieve. It is included in the first Article of the Universal Declaration of Hu- man Rights, as well as, in the other documents constituting the International Bill of Human Rights, in various resolutions and declarations of international bod- ies, and in national constitutions. It has acquired such approbation that it is in- voked widely as a legal and moral ground for championing human rights. Indeed, it has been described as the supreme ethical principle, the emancipatory principle underlying human rights.

    All I have expressed, thus far, demonstrates that principles have far-reach- ing implications. Before proceeding further in this direction, however, I am sensible that lawyers often prefer discussions that give specificity to the con- cept of legal rights and duties, and the implementation and realization of rec- ognized rights.

    More often than not, the discussions are technical rather than ethical in character. The view is still heard that positive law, in contrast to. However, it is thought that lawyers and legal postivism might serve to make the public more conscious of what morality is. In this regard, I remind you that Law Faculties around the world were the first to study the doctrine of human rights in an objective manner. Inquiries concerning principles of human rights are intimately connected with the jurisprudential search for the ultimate values of legal ordering.

    It is generally accepted that the source of justice is in the law, and that one cannot talk for long about law without entering into the realm of value. It is intimately linked with justice, and in its entirety is seen as a system of justice. The human rights field, in particular, offers golden opportunities for connecting the rise of a value-oriented jurisprudence, not only on the premise of a revival of natural law philosophy, if you wish, but by reference to certain spiritual and evolutionary forces which are pushing law forward towards a field, which might be termed, Law and the Oneness of Humankind.

    It is in this direction that law and lawyers, as servants of justice, would develop more capacity to serve a unified world. I am also aware that the term principle in the Declarations and Conven- tions, and elsewhere, seems to have lost much of its sense of an ontological source for practical, effective programs of action. In many instances the call for a radical approach based on principle, or a decision, or a course of action based on principle, is taken to suggest the notion of a static proposition or the pursuit of expediencies of national, ethnic, or local interests.

    Moreover, following the recent unleashing of deep-seated hatred, which has given way to the recur- rence of that monstrous spirit of ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, it might be thought that a return to what may seem so slight a thing as principles to animate the human rights movement misconceives the depth of the suspicions and fears and cynicalism , neopragmatism, and disunity afflicting mankind. However, the place and role of principles is undoubtedly part of the process of the evolving consciousness for new ways of thinking and express- ing committment that must be had in the human rights movement.

    Thus, it is extremely heartening that in the face of chronic disillusionment over religious extremism, racism, poverty, hunger, and violent atrocities, Mary Robinson, President of Ireland, who will soon take up the appointment as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in the position of Gen- eral Reporter at the Council of Europes Preparatory Meeting for the World Conference on Human Rights, raised an urgent call for a return to prin- ciples in this striking manner: I share with you a firm and tested belief in the power of ideas19 In the same manner, Ervin Laszlo, one of the foremost exponents of systems philosophy, a member of the prestigious Club of Rome.

    We look upon the few remaining visionaries of a better world as naive optimists or harmless fools. Our societies suffer from an overdose of pragma- tism combined with generalized but vague pessimism. The moral claims of today are often the legal rights of tomorrow. Particularly, when it is generally agreed that the inherent dignity of the human person is a primary normative standard of human rights. Although what is meant by inherent worth, or inherent dignity or sacred nature of the human per- son has not been universally agreed upon. I am not suggesting here that the noble valuethe inherent dignity of the human personrequires a universally agreed upon definition in general terms.

    However, analysis and detailed clarifications about its meaning might reduce specious use of the concept and broaden the impressive number of specific implications for relevant conduct that could be drawn from the principle. I agree with Alan Cranston that:. There is a connection between human rights being universal and their formulation being generalised and wide. The basic general principle of morality are minimal precisely be- cause they are universal. Human rights rests on universal principles, but the precise moral rights of men in some communities differ from the precise moral rights of men in other communities, and this is one reason why the formulation of human rights cannot be at the same time closely detailed and of universal application.

    A considerable number of the features, implications, and practical require- ments associated with the principles concerning the unification of mankind are outlined in the Bah Writings. In support of the view that the principle of unity in diversity would complement those notable principles which have thus far animated the human rights movement, I would point out that in the scriptures of the Bah Faith, the dignity of the human person has also been extolled:. Man,[is] the noblest and most perfect of all created things,27 ; Lofty is the station of man!

    His is the loftiest station, and his influence educateth the world of being. As you know, the term principle is derived from the Latin word principium. It is compounded of the words primus, meaning first or chief, and cipium, mean- ing to take. Thus, a principle is that controlling factor in human undertakings which must be considered first. It is first or chief among other factors, the primary source, or underlying faculty of an endeavour, upon which practical decisions and actions may follow.

    One of the functions is that principles indi- cate new approaches which ought to be taken. Consistently, then, with a belief in the power of directive principles, the Bah Faith, since its birth in , has called upon the peoples of the world to explore the principle of the oneness of mankind. In a major statement on the function of principles in facilitating major world undertakings, the Universal House of Justice, the highest International Administrative Body of the Bah Faith at Haifa, Israel, wrote:. There are spiritual principles, or what some call human values, by which solutions can be found for every social problem.

    Any well-intentioned group can in a general sense devise practical solutions to its problems, but good intentions and practical knowledge are usually not enough. The essential merit of spiritual principle is that it not only presents a perspec- tive which harmonizes with that which is immanent in human nature, it also induces an attitude, a dynamic, a will, an aspiration, which facilitate the discovery and implementa- tion of practical measures.

    Leaders of governments and all in authority would be well served in their efforts to solve problems if they would first seek to identify the principles involved and then be guided by them. Here, then is an empowering principlethe oneness of mankindrepre- senting, from the perspective of the Bah Faith the consummation of human evolution, which, may be promoted in concert with the basic value, the inher- ent dignity of the human person, and other noble principles, that have quick- ened the human rights movement.

    As a further step in this direction, I shall next suggest some practical implications of the principle that are not only compat- ible with the ideas of the inherent dignity and worth of human persons, but would serve to enrich these concepts, and others, which are basically linked with the idea of justice and equity, which the human rights movement implies.

    The following, most of which has been compiled from the Bah Scriptures or statements presented by the United Nations Office of the Bah International Community, also includes a few specific practical points concerning indigenous people, minorities and human rights education. Majorities have a special responsibility, for the sake of justice, to bring about the social and political adjustments which will enable minorities to exercise their common and funda- mental rights Both must view minority issues in the context of an in- creasingly interdependent world Attitudes must change.

    There must be a shift in the view of majorities towards oppressed minorities, and. Not only must this principle come to ani- mate relations among the nations but it must also be applied within both local and national communities, if they are to prosper and endure. The unifying, salutary effects of applying this principle would be in- calculable. Educa- tion which instills in hearts and minds an awareness of and sensitivity to human rights of all persons constitutes an essential tool for the promo- tion and implementation of international human rights standards [It] should constitute a comprehensive life-long process by which people at all levels of development and in all strata of society learn respect for the dignity of others and the means and methods of ensuring that respect in all societies Human rights eduation, if it is to succeed, must seek to transform individual attitudes and behavior and thereby establish a new culture of respect for human rights.

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    Only such a change in the fun- damental social outlook of every individual can bring about the uni- versal observance of human rights principles Accordingly, it is essential to touch the heart Such education, moreover, must help to instill in every individual a keen, emotionally grounded awareness of the funda- mental unity of humankind. As people begin to see each other as mem- bers of one human family, they will become willing to discard negative learned stereotypes and begin to see people of other ethnic groups, nationalities, classes and religious beliefs as potential friends rather than as threats or enemies Bah communities are already both pro- moting and providing education, based on the the principle of the one- ness of humanity, which seeks to cultivate respect for the rights of others, a sense of responsibility for the well-being of the human family, and the moral attributes that contribute to a just, harmonious and peaceful world civilization.

    Indeed, unless applied universally and in action, these qualities can easily become little more than slogans, at times degenerat- ing even to become excuses for prejudice and injustice Moral educa- tion centered on an understanding of the essential oneness of humankind and applied on a universal basis constitutes an indispensable foundation for the universal respect for human rights. Efforts for recognizing and protecting indigenous rights must be seen in a global context.

    No people should be set apart from the whole of mankind. The theme of oneness of mankind certainly includes the growing sense of the moral responsibility of humanity as a whole for indigenous peoples. The perpetuation of the cultural characteristics of peoples should be viewed as an expression of unity in diversity, which enriches the tapes- try of human life. Often difficulties arise not because groups do not de- sire the development of their members and their natural resources, but because they are not consulted and do not reap the benefits of develop- ment projects.

    Human rights programs,and other programs,should instill in all people a sense of their worth as actual and potential co-builders of a world civilization, as channelled through cultural perspectives, which could enrich the entire fabric of civilized society. It would assist in approaching the more important question of how social unity among diverse groups can be best advanced. Such programs might assist in establishing a perspective, as practiced in the Bah Faith, if there is any discrimination it should be in favor of the minority. It may be seen in these statements that the principles of the oneness of mankind and unity in diversity could foster the adherence to values, such as unity, justice and consciousness of world citizenship.

    They would provide a framework upon which a new vision, new commitment and a new pardigm of unity can be constructed. Of course, from the declaration of principles to their implementation, there is certainly a long and difficult road. Yet,the formal international recognition of global human rights has not only strengthened the struggle for international. Still, it is readily acknowledged that the principles in international and regional human rights documents have influenced the content and practice of governments.

    The world has learned that the adoption of general standards formulated in terms of le- gally and morally binding treaties do not automatically transform into state prac- tice. The era of universally accepted human rights points the way forward for concensus on binding values and irrevocable standards. The advantages of the principle of the oneness of mankind and unity in diversity might be explored, not as a detailed declaration of action, but as a help and support for those look- ing for direction, orientation and meaning of the larger purpose of human rights.

    Finally, the universality of human rights needs to be viewed in context of an emergent unity paradigm, supported by the complementarity of religious, le- gal and other social perspectives. From a human rights perspective, conscious unification on a planetary scale is the process appropriate to humanitys matu- rity and growing capacity. And from this perspective, it is also clear that the international code of human rights has a clear bias in favour of the kind of society that displays a specific coherent set of spiritual values; tolerance of diversity; plurality of belief, ideas and cultures, reasonableness and rational- ity; the peaceful resolution of conflict under the rule of law; and, above all, respect for the dignity and integrity of every single one of its individual mem- bers.

    Directly related to the topic of universality of rights is the emotional and difficult concern that support for the human rights for all, within a rigid us and them dichotomy, would compromise or destroy that loyalty all of us cherish for family, peoples and nation. In support of a radical new and far more dy- namic approach to culture in the area of human rights, the Bah Writings state:. Far from aiming at the subversion of the existing foundations of society, it [the oneness of mankind] seeks to broaden its basis, to remould its institutions in a manner consonant with the needs of an ever-changing world.

    It can conflict with no legitimate allegiances, nor can it undermine essential loyalties It does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world.

    It calls for a wider loyalty, for larger aspiration than any that has animated the human race.

    It insists upon the subordina- tion of national impulse and interests to the imperative claims of a unified world Its watchword is unity in diversity. The broad and inherent multi-disciplinary nature of human rights concerns and the requirement for the interaction of numerous programs of action are sometimes difficult for lawyers and legislators to accept. The language which human rights are formulated is primarily the language of law, but the combined forces of political, legal, religious and moral influences must be employed. Laws are insufficient alone to create a just global society.

    Promotion of a multi- disciplinary approach would greatly assist in raising the discussions to the level of principles. It is becoming clearer that the root source of the problems of abuses of power, prejudices, and disunity have their origin in the malfunctioning of the human spirit. Thus, the legal rationality of human rights, though essential, is not a sufficient basis for the resolution of deep-seated prejudices and disunity.

    The challenge of changing attitudes is not entirely within the ability of the legal system and governments to meet. This does not suggest that the law has no deterrent or educative effects. It is only to suggest that changing the bad laws or introducing laws prohibiting certain activities is only a partial solution of the problem. This may involve ensuring that a greater number from minority groups be- come members of the legal profession. It may also involve increasing under- standing that governments have a peculiar interest in ensuring that human rights measures are enforced.

    The use of public agencies to promote and enforce human rights legislation should be encouraged. Victims of discrimination usu- ally do not seek legal redress individually, either because they are not aware of the steps to take, or because such redress is disproportionately expensive.

    Thus, reliance on law enforcement by public agencies and private organisations is therefore likely to be very great. The operation of public human rights agencies should be seen as the enforcement of constitutional or particular provisions in the public interest on behalf of the community as a whole. It is now well understood that a considerable amount of bias is either so covert, entrenched, institutionalised and systemic that the anti-cultural, or rac- ist, or sexist practices, policies or rules appear neutral on their face, i.

    In such circumstances experience and expertise are essential to detect the discriminatory operation, impact and effect of the prejudice and ferret it out. Well-trained human rights workers with a public agency can accumulate sufficient experience to uncover the discriminatory prac- tice. The staff soon acquires the necessary expertise to recognize the subtle and insidious forms that discrimination and disunity take and the agency itself. The enforcement of the law by a state agency also educates the community both as to the law itself and on the importance accorded the state to the elimination of prejudice.

    It is to the credit of the organizers of this conferences that the participation from religious organizations has been so prominent. It is undoubtedly a major part of a multi-disciplinary approach that human rights promotion must be a meeting point for different religions. Historically, the religions of the world have been a fertile source of moral and ethical principles and practices. It appears that more and more critical thinkers are realizing that the contents and direction of human rights,in a contracting world community,must be enriched by spiritual principles and priorities.

    The Scriptures of the Bah Faith not only envisage a society in which the basic human rights and needs of each of its members can be met, but affirm that religion is the chief instrument, for the establishment of order in the world and of the tranquility amongst all its people. The holy scriptures have offered a progressive vision of a fundamental global transformation that embodies a new set of principles for understanding and guiding humanitys relationships.

    Accordingly, there can be no question of the importance of religion as a source of moral values and principles and perspectives for the universalization of human rights values. I have focussed on human rights principles because it seems important in a first conference on human rights to illustrate that principles are the means by which the law lives, grows, and demonstrates that it is not a mere collection of rules. Through the medium of principles, law, and in particular human rights concerns, we can draw nourishment from religion and from other fields.

    As I indicated earlier, only after World War II, a brief span of time in mankinds evolution, has there been a sustained effort to formulate the substance of what is now called human rights into principles of a global scope. Thus, given the dynamic and evolutionary nature of human rights, this subject lends itself di- rectly to the view that the human rights movement needs to be viewed from a perspective that conscious unification on a planetary scale is the process appro- priate to humanitys maturity and growing capacity for integration.

    As a fundamental tenet of their religion, Bahs are committed to the eradi- cation of all forms of prejudice, including those based on race, ethnic origin, religion, sex or nationality. Believers are striving to build in Brazil, and com-. The Promulgation of Universal Peace. What are Human Rights. New York: Taplinger Publishing Co. Preis Human Rights Quarterly, vol. The End of Cross-Cultural Relativism. Alternatives, vol. Turning Point For All Nations. A significant portion of the document deals with the subject. See the sections: Protecting Fundamental Human Rights, p.

    Human Rights in a Multicultural World. Paper delivered to the Law Faculty, University of Toronto. Human Rights as the Dawn of the 21st Century. The Inner Limits of Mankind. London: One World Publications Ltd. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahullh. Tablets of Bahullh. The Promise of World Peace. World Order of Bahullh. Sustainable Communities in an Integrating World. Although subject to the criticism of promoting a certain culturally spe- cific Western model,1 international human rights, both in conceptual and legislative terms, is gaining increasing importance as a normative framework for the guidance and protection of humankind.

    Thus, theoretically, at least, the CRC, as a conceptual frame- work and legal instrument, should have legitimate claim to a universally ac- cepted set of principles, norms and standards. Notwithstanding this achievement questions remain. Less so regarding the issue of the universality of the CRC and its broad intent than with its implementation at country level where the norms and standards embodied in it encounter local cultural values and atti- tudes about children that would appear to diverge from the intent of the Con- vention.

    Whilst the international debate surrounding childrens rights may appear remote and esoteric to national and local Bah communities, recent messages from the Universal House of Justice 5 regarding the role of children in commu- nity life strikes a resonant chord with the current global focus on childrens rights hence necessitating an examination of the ethics and principles under- pinning these rights instruments and their relevance to the process of carrying forward an ever-advancing civilization 6 as well as the ultimate goal of the Bah Faiththe unity of the human race.

    To this end, this paper will explore several key human rights issues of relevance to the Bah community. First, the author will investigate the issue of the universality of rights in light of criticism from cultural relativists. Second, the author will endeavour to resolve concerns about the secular nature of rights instruments by exploring the possibility that human and childrens rights may, in fact, have spiritual, or religious influences.

    Finally, the paper will look more specifically at the rel- evance of child rights and prospects of childrens participation in the Bah community. Whilst the author will offer suggestions regarding the implications to the Bah community of a rights orientation, it should be noted that this paper is not intended to present a definitive statement on this subject.

    Rather, it is the authors hope that this paper will provoke thought and contribute to an on-going examination of the significance of the messages from the Universal House of Justice and international child rights instruments concerning the historical rela- tionships between adults and children, institutions and children, as well as the prescriptive and traditional attitudes about the roles and responsibilities chil- dren can undertake in the Bah community in the pursuit of world unity.

    In the estimation of God all men are equal; there is no distinction or preferment for any soul in the dominion of His justice and equity. Between and , the Founder of the Bah Faith, Bahullh, issued a series of Tablets and Letters that, when taken together, could be regarded as an embryonic form of a human rights charter. One of the underlying conceptions of Bahullhs implied rights framework is the principle of universality. Cor- respondingly, the concept and indeed the feasibility of human rights 8 as a nor- mative framework, particularly as expressed in the UDHR, rests upon this.

    That is to say, the principles, standards and norms proclaimed in the Declaration are shared by all members of the human family regardless of race, religion, gender, nationality, socio- cultural status, and so forth. This issue of the universality of human rights is extremely significant as there can be no prospect of the universal applica- tion of [human] rights unless there is, at least, substantial agreement on their concept, scope and content.

    Unsurprisingly, the claim of universality of human rights is challenged by some real skepticism. The claims of the cultural relativists regarding the purported lack of uni- versality of human rights revolve around the following themes: a limited par- ticipation in the development of the UDHR, b a disproportionate emphasis on Western libertarian notions about individual autonomy without due regard for the value of collective social responsibility, and c the secular tone of the Declaration and the human rights discourse that appears to devalue the role of religion as a social force and as a source of individual inspiration and content- ment.

    Limited participation in the development of the UDHR refers to the fact that at the time the Declaration was proclaimed only 58 countries partici- pated in the dialogue and of these only 48 assented to its adoption. These States adopted by consen-. Although the universality of human rights is a foundational principle, the Bah Faith acknowledges the validity of certain relativist argu- ments. Promoting universality without recognising bona fide culturally specific values and norms would be akin to proposing a global form of cultural homo- geneity or uniformity.

    Clearly, the Bah position straddles the two worldviews in a way that could be interpreted as ambiguous and non-committal.

    This inter- pretation would be incorrect, however, as explicated by Shoghi Effendi 16 in the following citation:. Far from aiming at the subversion of the existing foundations of society, it17 seeks to broaden its basis, to remold its institutions in a manner consonant with the needs of an ever-changing world. It can conflict with no legitimate allegiances, nor can it undermine essential loyalties.

    Its purpose is neither to stifle the flame of a sane and intelligent patrio- tism in mens hearts, nor to abolish the system of national autonomy so essential if the evils of excessive centralization are to be avoided. It does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world.

    It calls for a wider loyalty, for a larger aspiration than any that has animated the human race. It insists upon the subordination of national impulses and interests to the imperative claims of a unified world. It repudiates excessive centralization on one hand, and disclaims all at- tempts at uniformity on the other. Its watchword is unity in diversity The reference to the primacy of individual autonomy pertains to notions about individual rights and freedoms as contrasted against, according to the relativists, the norms of other cultures that place high value on the concepts of collective responsibility to the family, to the community, and to the state , loyalty, and discipline.

    The first is that the West- ern values argument is most frequently made by the leaders of authoritarian institutions e. Indeed, Cumaraswamy contends that these authority fig- ures do not accurately represent the aspirations of their people who support the principle of the universality. This, however, is disproved by Sen who presents multiple examples to the contrary. In sum, according to a report on the Ramsey Colloquium, an integrated reading of the Declaration makes clear that it is neither individual- istic nor statist, but a charter of rights for the flourishing of persons in commu- nity.

    Bah literature suggests that the concepts of the rights of the individual and the rights of the collective family, community, nation are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, it would appear that they are mutually reinforcing as the following citations dem- onstrate:. The integrity of the family bond must be constantly considered, and the rights of the individual members must not be transgressed.

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    Nor does concern to ensure the welfare of society as a whole require a deification of the State as the supposed source of humanitys well-being. Only in a consultative framework made possible by the consciousness of the organic unity of humankind can all aspects of the concern for human rights find legiti- mate and creative expression. Since the body of humankind is one and indivisible, each member of the race is born into the world as a trust of the whole. In reference to the secular nature of human rights deliberations, the concern here is that whilst mention is made to the freedom of worship in the Universal Declaration,24 the contemporary discourse is conducted in a form and a manner that appears to diminish the role of religion as a social force and religious tenets as normative frameworks.

    This subject will be discussed at greater length in the following section. In summary, the author endeavoured to examine the pivotal yet contentious issue of the universality of human rights and concluded that the concept has been subjected to sufficient debate as to permit the human race to accept that:. All human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated.

    While the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, it is the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Equally, the author posited that the inherent tensions between the principle of universality and cultural relativists need not be dichotomised by rights pro- moters, world and religious leaders, and civil society.

    Rather, they should en- courage a dialectic that will, through a consultative process, achieve coherence and unity of thought on this issue. One of the ironies of the human rights debate is that the concept is largely perceived to have originated in a context of Western secular liberalism.

    This connection can be traced to the development of natural law which is widely accepted to be the precursor to the concept of human rights. Whilst worldviews about natural law have been heavily influenced by Hobbesian thought e.

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    Thomas Aquinas, for example, asserted that natural law is a special subset of the divine law which pertains to moral behaviour, and is accessible to everyone through reason - including unbelievers. Islam and Judaism also subscribe to a belief in a universal moral law rooted in the righteousness of God and the principle that [s]ince human beings are created in the image of God and loved by him [sic] as individuals each is worthy of dignity and respect. Furthermore, with reference to the UDHR itself, Damien Keown, a scholar of Indian Religion, submits that each of the thirty articles of the Universal Declaration shows them to be in harmony with early Buddhist teachings both in letter and in spirit.

    Not only do Bah writings attribute a spiritual or divine source for human rights, Bahullh, proffered many formulations on the subject of rights that, as already mentioned, could be regarded as a notional basis for a Human Rights Charter, as well as an international code of conduct, and a legal framework for human rights adminis- tration. Examples of these writings include, inter alia, the Kitb-i-Aqdas The. Examples include, inter alia: the inherent nobility of human beings, the equality of humankind, the protection of the rights of any member of the human race, the equality of women and men and the importance of edu- cating women , the protection of minority rights, the right to independently investigate Truth, the harmony of science and religion, religious harmony and tolerance, the elimination of poverty, and the establishment of international structures and regulatory institutions endowed with the mandate to establish and ensure human security and world peace.

    The essence of Bahullhs writ- ings on these subjects has been provided in summary form by His eldest son, Abdul-Bah 33 and is provided in Annex I, although interested readers are en- couraged to seek the original texts. Establishing the spiritual origins of human rights is a matter of some conse- quence. If the human rights discourse is bound to a positivist, or modernist, paradigm, humanitys capacity to fully actualise the potential inherent in rights concepts is likely to be circumscribed.

    Baha'I- Inspired Perspectives on Human Rights

    If Hobbes self-interest postulate is to be accepted as the norm, what motivation is there for humanity to internalise and acts in ways that respects the UDHRs pivotal principle of inherent human dignity? Surely, a resigned compliance to international law will not create so- cial norms wherein human rights flourish and human beings will live in a world characterised by sustainable peace, security and co-operation in the truest sense of these terms. An awareness of the divine source of human rights and indeed life itself endows us with the capacity for self-transcendence.

    Speak- ing to the issue of the spiritual origins of human rights, Vaclav Havel contends that :. Politicians at international forums may reiterate a thousand times that the basis of the new world order must be universal respect for human rights, but it will mean nothing as long as this imperative does not derive from the respect of the miracle of Being Only someone who submits to the authority of the universal order and of creation can genu- inely value himself and his neighbours, and thus honor their rights as well. All who hold fast to the one reality will be in agreement and unity.

    Then shall the religions summon people to the oneness of the world of humanity and to universal justice; then will they proclaim equality of rights and exhort men to virtue and to faith in the loving mercy of God. In light of An-Naims argument that there can be no prospect of the uni- versal application of [human] rights unless there is, at least, substantial agree- ment on their concept, scope and content 37 the recognition of the sacred origins of human rights carries with it significant implications for overcoming the di- chotomy between the so-called secular and relativist worldviews.

    What can, in the final analysis, galvanise the requisite unity of thought and purpose in a world riven by factionalism, fanaticism, materialism, militant nationalism, secularism, racial and gender bigotry, ecclesiasticism, and scepticism? If the solution were merely an acknowledgement of the divine nature of human rights, what then has prevented the religions of the world from overcoming the barriers to human security? It would appear, historically at least, that religions have approached the rights dialogue from a particularist perspective, i. The Bah writings, however, suggest that the recognition of the divine origins of human rights can indeed create a powerful tool for achieving human security and engaging the worlds population in assuming responsibility for its collective destiny when conducted within a consciousness of the oneness of humankind.

    Many of the principles contained in the Declaration concern human rights. Additionally, the Declara- tion considers the universal recognition of human rights and human dignity by the religions of the world as the cornerstone of a new global order. Clearly, providing sufficient empirical evidence to demonstrate the sacred nature of human rights is a challenge of immense proportions.

    Whilst eminent persons such as Vaclav Havel assert that human rights are endowed by God, secular human rights activists argue, on the other hand, that placing respect for human rights and faith in God into the same concept violates one of the tenets of human rights e. This paper submits, though, that the secular and religious perceptions are essentially compatible on.

    Whilst activists express this right as the freedom to choose ones belief system including atheism , the Founders of the worlds major religions articulate this right as free will, or agency. In other words, the decision to accept the existence of God must be voluntary and borne from informed aware- ness and rational thought rather than blind faith. This concept receives compre- hensive treatment in the Bah writings. In conclusion, the author argues that respect for human rights will be strength- ened through a recognition of two basic concepts.

    First, that human rights are God-given rights and, secondly, a consciousness of the organic oneness of the human race. These concepts will enable humanity to transcend both the secular paradigm that can alienate the billions of people who structure their daily routines around spiritual practices and to free humanity from the traditional religious practices that many suspect of particularism and power abuse.

    One of the many implications of the principle of the universality of human rights is that children are also rights holders with entitlements as well as capabilities and responsibilities to act as agents of social change. Whilst this may seem self-evident in this day and age, an historical examination reveals rather shock- ing attitudes towards children over the years. In European societies of the eighteenth Century, for example, children were deemed to be property of their parents.

    The thief was regarded as having stolen the clothes. Apart from that, child theft was tantamount to stealing a corpse. In the case of both a dead body and a live child, no legal person was involved. Likewise, a recognition of the divine heritage of human rights carries with it significant meaning with respect to the role of children in the realisation of humanitys collective spiritual destiny which is, according to Bah teachings, the organic unity of humankind. The CRC is the most widely ratified international Convention in history coun- tries.

    Only Somalia and the USA are not party to the treaty. This paper will examine the theoretical relevance and practical ramifications of the Convention to Bah community life and the overall aims of the Bah Faith. Childrens participation is attracting growing attention from a multitude of academics and practitioners alike. An explanation for this interest lies in the ontological presumption that children possess capabilities and are seen as full human beings i.

    The CRC recognises that children are not mere dependants, the property of parents or guardians. Whilst they are in need of protection they have strengths.

    This presumption includes the notion that childrens views and opinions are significant and are the by-product of their capability to reflect, analyse and consider consequences. From this perspective, children and youth, when encouraged, become agents of social change, active and involved citizens in society, to the extent of their individual. Gillian Mann, a researcher on care and protection of separated children at the Refugee Studies Centre in the UK, invokes a broad denotation of participa- tion as taking part in a social process. To be genuine and effective, it means listening to children and respecting their views and the way in which they choose to express them.

    It involves recognising and nurturing their strengths, interests and abilities through the provision of meaningful opportunities to contribute to their own development and that of their peers, families and communities. In this way, child participation encourages reciprocal learning between children and adults as well as the establishment of respectful horizontal relation- ships across generations. Manns definition is very helpful in that it describes, in clear terms, the developmental processes and outcomes associated with child participation. It is also very useful due to the emphasis it places on self-actualising human po- tential in contrast to the traditional view that external forces e.

    Finally, Manns denotation incorporates the concepts of co- operation, tolerance and mutual respect, concepts implied in her references to reciprocal learning and respectful horizontal relationships. As helpful as Manns definition is, this author proposes an alternative that is meant to be more specifically relevant to the thesis of this paper in that it endeavours to embody the aspects of spirituality and social transformation.

    For the purpose of this paper, then, childrens participation refers to:. Processes that empower children to take responsibility for their spiritual development, to foster a sense of moral purpose and pro-social attitudes in order to engageto the extent of their individual and collective developing capacities and in an authentic mannerin actions, behaviour and forms of service that will contribute to social transformation characterised by unity, justice, co-operation, reciprocity, and mutual respect and helpful- ness.

    Classic reactions to the concept of childrens participation range from out- right scepticism to a concern that childrens rights conflict with the rights of. Situated at another point on the spectrum are those adults who are threat- ened by the notion of childrens rights and participation out of a fear of losing control. In Uganda, for instance, many still hold the view that the reason for childrens existence is the satisfaction of adult needs and interests. The first and most obvious is that childrens participation is established in international law as a legitimate, inalienable right, or entitle- ment.

    There are, fortunately, several additional reasons that justify the impor- tance of childrens participation that extend beyond the legal argument. Although there are many justifications for childrens participation, Mann provides an ex- cellent formulation. The advantages of authentic childrens participation, according. The following table summarises Manns thinking according by category: Coincidentally, Manns categorisationsthat is the manner in which the ben- efits of childrens participation accrue not only to the child but to the family and community as wellwould seem to reinforce Bah thought regarding the interconnectedness of individual and societal development.

    As cited earlier, the Bah Faith seeks neither the devotion of the cult of the individual nor the deifi- cation of the State but, rather, healthy and mutually supportive relationships be- tween the constituent members of society deriving from a consultative framework made possible by [a] consciousness of the organic unity of human- kind In this sense, Manns analysis appears to bear out the truth of George Bernard Shaws aphorism : We are members of one another; so that you cannot injure or help your neighbour without injuring or helping yourself.

    Despite the fact that the philosophy and practice of child participation is still in an embryonic state there is growing empirical evidence demonstrating that childrens participation can foster responsible behaviour and practice and meaningful social change.

    In Budapest, for example, children between the ages of ten and fifteen manage with the exception of the engine driver the Pioneer Railway, a thirteen mile-long track carrying children and tourists on field trips through scenic areas overlooking the Danube River. This child-led research activity led to recommendations for specific low-cost crime prevention measures for these vulnerable citizens.