Human Rights and Minorities

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					Human Rights
and Minorities
             Dr. J.D. Bowers
         Department of History
   Genocide and Human Rights Institute
       Northern Illinois University
• To the Concepts                   • Anytime we enter into a
   – What are we talking about?       new situation we have
   – Why?
                                      to step back and figure
   – How will we do this?
                                      out what that situation
• To You
   – Who are you?
                                      can provide us—for
   – Why are you here?                good or for ill. We must
   – What do you want to know?        remember, things do
• To me                               not always turn out as
   – Why am I here?                   we think or suspect.
   – What do I have to teach you?

                                        What can Dr. Seuss tell us?
• In this session participants will, through lecture, discussion,
  the reading of primary and secondary documents and
  excerpts and activities, consider what it means to profess a
  belief in the concept of inalienable rights.
• Some of the essential questions concerning human rights
   –   Are all peoples entitled to the same level of protection?
   –   Do rights apply equally in all situations?
   –   When are the rights of the majority given precedence?
   –   What responsibilities does the majority have to protect the minority?
• All of these ideas will be explored with the goal of making us
  all aware of our obligations to each other and the privileges
  we enjoy.
          What are human rights?
  – Development
  – FDR’s “Four Freedoms” --
  – The UN Declaration of Human              Audio mp3 Address
    Rights – DOCUMENT
      • UN Convention on Genocide
  – How human rights differ from civil
  – Individual rights v. collective rights
            Universal Declaration of
                Human Rights
• December 10, 1948
    • Today this is “Human Rights Day”
• Declared by UN General Assembly
• Thirty articles defining the rights of
  all persons throughout the world
• Article 1: All human beings are born free
   and equal in dignity and rights. They are
   endowed with reason and conscience and
   should act towards one another in a spirit
   of brotherhood.
              Defenders of HR
• Who are the defenders of human rights?
  – Individuals
  – Society
  – World Order
     • United Nations – DOCUMENT
     • International Criminal Court
  – Institutions
                                      SCENARIO Activity
                                      Who do you chose?
                                   •   A disabled soldier returning from
• You are traveling on a train         Afghanistan
  for a three-day journey          •   A prostitute
  between Chicago and              •   A man who smells strongly of wine
                                       and whose clothes are dirty
  Seattle. Your ticket is four a   •   An athlete who seems to have plenty
  four-person couchette so             of money
                                   •   An Indian immigrant who only speaks
  you must share with three            a little English
  other people. From the           •   A German lesbian who has at least 30
                                       visible piercings
  following list you must          •   A white older man who is hard of
  choose the three people              hearing
                                   •   A mother with two infant children
  you would most want to           •   A Japanese businessman
  ride with and the three          •   An African American youth with
  people you would not want        •   A blind musician
  to ride with.                    •   A woman just released from prison
     Majority v. Minority Rights
• How are minority human rights different from
  majority human rights?
  – Common humanity
  – Levels of protection
  – Consociation and condominium rights
  – Voice of the majority

  – EQ: Should minority groups have protected
    interests and rights? Always? To what extent?
           Violation of Rights
• Why are human rights violated?
  – Visions of utopia
  – Imperialism
  – Tragedy of the Commons – DOCUMENT
  – Real politik
                 Tragedy of the Commons (Abridged)
                 1. The morality of an act is a function of the state
                 of the system at the time it is performed.
                 2. In situations where rational pursuit of individual
                 self-interest leads to collective ruin, we MUST
                 agree to self-imposed limits.
                 Problems can only be solved by a change in
                 human values or ideas of morality.
             Historic Case Studies
– Spanish American War and Imperialism
   • Treatment of the Filipinos – DOCUMENT
– Women
– Minorities in the US
   •   Native Americans
   •   African Americans
                                   Reflection Questions:
   •   Japanese Americans          1. When is the majority justified
   •   Hispanic Americans             in their actions?
                                   2. Whose rights does a
– Divided Societies                   democracy protect?
   • Cyprus                        3. Is it ever right to protect a
   • Northern Ireland                 minority even when it goes
                                      against the rights of a
   • Palestine / Israel               majority?
                                   4. Whose values do we accept?
              Extending Rights
• We can address the problems inherent in the
  “contest of rights” (as expressed in our
  reflection questions) and address the tragedy
  of the commons by rethinking our approach
  and the very conception of rights.
  – Setting common standards
  – Accept globalization – DOCUMENT “Clash of
  – R2P—Responsibility to Protect
  – Enhanced Rights                 Activity 3: Culturenary
                 Future Rights
• A future for rights?
  – Rights violated, rights lost?
  – East v. West?
  – Global terrorism
  – Religious challenges
  – The “New” minorities
  – Moral relativism

                                    Activity 4: New Rights

1. On a piece of paper, write your favorite joke.
2. Using two Post-it Notes, write down two (one on
   each note) of the most important rights for an
3. Culturenary. Each group will be given a word to
   draw/depict and explain to the larger group.
4. Think ahead ten years. What three rights do you
   want to have in the future that do not currently

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