The Concept of Human Rights in Africa

Shivji, Issa G.
Publisher:  CODESRIA
Year Published:  1990  
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX4512

Abstract:  Issa G. Shivji dissects the conception of human rights as universal principles and shows that they have an ideological context, causing `universal' rights to vary from place to place, time to time, and situation to situation. Shivji examines the western view of human rights with its emphasis on individual freedoms, closely linked to the idea of the capitalist market, and contrasts it with the collectivist conception based on social and economic rights.
He argues that the individualist market-oriented idea of rights cannot be applied uncritically to Africa. But Shivji also takes issue with the relativist view of human rights according to which, in Africa and the Third World in general, notions of human rights and freedoms are said to be inapplicable. Shivji rejects this, arguing that all this does is provide African dictators with justification for human rights abuses. He is sharply critical of the way in which African rulers have used the ideology of `developmentalism' to create `authoritarian monstrosities called one-party states'.

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