A THEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF THE ROLE OF WESTERN VALUES AND AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY IN THE MOVEMENT FOR UNIVERSAL HUMAN RIGHTS (ETHICS)
HOLLEMAN, WARREN LEE
Doctor of Philosophy
Shortly before the close of World War II, the United Nations was established, stating as a central purpose the promotion and protection of a universal standard of human rights. Since that time, numerous other organizations and individuals have joined in promoting universal human rights. Particularly noteworthy are Amnesty International, founded in London in 1961, and the United States Congress and President Jimmy Carter in the 1970's. Despite their well-intentioned efforts, torture, terror, poverty, and starvation have increased rather than decreased over the past four decades. The question that arises, therefore, is "Why has the movement for universal human rights failed?" The reason for this failure is that Western and non-Western nations and cultures disagree as to the meaning of human rights and the means for promoting human rights from nation to nation and culture to culture. This disagreement is rooted in a more fundamental disagreement concerning what it means to be human. Christian theological anthropology suggests a via media between Western and non-Western points of view. Western liberals define humanity and human rights in individualistic, pneumatic terms. Many non-Western perspectives define humanity and human rights in communal and material terms. The integralist understanding of humanity as worked out in recent Roman Catholic social teaching, particularly that of Jacques Maritain, David Hollenbach, and the Vatican II documents, makes rapprochement possible. Non-Westerners complain that the human rights movement does not respect the sovereign rights of non-Western nations and the integrity of non-Western cultures. Westerners view humanity and human rights in abstract, universal terms while many non-Westerners view them in historical, cultural terms. The historical realist and historical contextualist understandings of humanity worked out by Protestants Reinhold Niebuhr, Max Stackhouse, and James Sellers suggest a means of reconciliation between Western and non-Western nations and cultures on the subject of human rights.