Cover image for Human rights in Africa : cross-cultural perspectives
Title:
Human rights in Africa : cross-cultural perspectives
Author:
Naʻīm, ʻAbd Allāh Aḥmad, 1946-
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : The Brookings Institution, [1990]

©1990
Physical Description:
xv, 399 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
1510 Lexile.
ISBN:
9780815717966

9780815717959
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

This powerful volume challenges the conventional view that the concept of human rights is peculiar to the West and, therefore, inherently alien to the non-Western traditions of third world countries. This book demonstrates that there is a contextual legitimacy for the concept of human rights. Virginia A. Leary and Jack Donnelly discuss the Western cultural origins of international human rights; David Little, Bassam Tibi, and Ann Elizabeth Mayer explore Christian and Islamic perspectives on human rights; Rhoda E. Howard, Claude E. Welch, Jr., and James C. N. Paul examine human rights in the context of the African nation-state; Kwasi Wiredu, James Silk, and Francis M. Deng offer African cultural perspectives; and Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im and Richard D. Schwartz discuss prospects for a cross-cultural approach to human rights.


Summary

This powerful volume challenges the conventional view that the concept of human rights is peculiar to the West and, therefore, inherently alien to the non-Western traditions of third world countries.

This book demonstrates that there is a contextual legitimacy for the concept of human rights. Virginia A. Leary and Jack Donnelly discuss the Western cultural origins of international human rights; David Little, Bassam Tibi, and Ann Elizabeth Mayer explore Christian and Islamic perspectives on human rights; Rhoda E. Howard, Claude E. Welch, Jr., and James C. N. Paul examine human rights in the context of the African nation-state; Kwasi Wiredu, James Silk, and Francis M. Deng offer African cultural perspectives; and Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im and Richard D. Schwartz discuss prospects for a cross-cultural approach to human rights.


Author Notes

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im was associate professor of law at Khartoum University and is now visiting professor of law at the University of Saskatchewan.

Francis M. Deng is a nonresident senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies prog


Reviews 2

Choice Review

Thirteen scholars in law, political science, sociology, and philosophy separately explore the reconciliation of Western individualism, Islamic norms, and traditional African community values with universal standards of human rights. Two North American contributors argue on the one hand that Locke's political theory includes a social democratic component, and on the other hand that African communities traditionally respected political rights. The four African contributors identify several traditions consistent with provisions in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but also note the need for cultural evolution to redress gender and other customary inequities. The chapters have not been effectively integrated or coherently organized, so there is frequent repetition of simple generalizations about cultural relativism. There is little original material, but extensive, excessive quotation from works by others, such as C. Welch and R. Meltzer Human Rights and Development in Africa (CH, Nov'84). Most of the contributors were trained in law and political science and lack expertise on the promised "cross-cultural perspectives." H. Tolley Jr. University of Cincinnati


Choice Review

Thirteen scholars in law, political science, sociology, and philosophy separately explore the reconciliation of Western individualism, Islamic norms, and traditional African community values with universal standards of human rights. Two North American contributors argue on the one hand that Locke's political theory includes a social democratic component, and on the other hand that African communities traditionally respected political rights. The four African contributors identify several traditions consistent with provisions in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but also note the need for cultural evolution to redress gender and other customary inequities. The chapters have not been effectively integrated or coherently organized, so there is frequent repetition of simple generalizations about cultural relativism. There is little original material, but extensive, excessive quotation from works by others, such as C. Welch and R. Meltzer Human Rights and Development in Africa (CH, Nov'84). Most of the contributors were trained in law and political science and lack expertise on the promised "cross-cultural perspectives." H. Tolley Jr. University of Cincinnati


Table of Contents

B The Brookings Institutionp. v
Forewordp. vii
Editors' Prefacep. xi
Chapter 1 Introductionp. 1
Part 1 Western Cultural Originsp. 13
Chapter 2 The Effect of Western Perspectives on International Human Rightsp. 15
Chapter 3 Human Rights and Western Liberalismp. 31
Part 2 Religious Perspectivesp. 57
Chapter 4 a Christian Perspective on Human Rightsp. 59
Chapter 5 The European Tradition of Human Rights and the Culture of Islamp. 104
Chapter 6 Current Muslim Thinking on Human Rightsp. 133
Part 3 The Context of the Nation-Statep. 157
Chapter 7 Group Versus Individual Identity in the African Debate on Human Rightsp. 159
Chapter 8 Human Rights in Francophone West Africap. 184
Chapter 9 Participatory Approaches to Human Rights in Sub-Saharan Africap. 213
Part 4 African Cultural Perspectivesp. 241
Chapter 10 An Akan Perspective on Human Rightsp. 243
Chapter 11 A Cultural Approach to Human Rights among the Dinkap. 261
Chapter 12 Traditional Culture and the Prospect for Human Rights in Africap. 290
Part 5 Prospects for a Cross-Cultural Approachp. 329
Chapter 13 Problems of Universal Cultural Legitimacy for Human Rightsp. 331
Chapter 14 Human Rights in an Evolving World Culturep. 368
Contributorsp. 383
Subject Indexp. 385
Indexp. 393
B The Brookings Institutionp. v
Forewordp. vii
Editors' Prefacep. xi
Chapter 1 Introductionp. 1
Part 1 Western Cultural Originsp. 13
Chapter 2 The Effect of Western Perspectives on International Human Rightsp. 15
Chapter 3 Human Rights and Western Liberalismp. 31
Part 2 Religious Perspectivesp. 57
Chapter 4 a Christian Perspective on Human Rightsp. 59
Chapter 5 The European Tradition of Human Rights and the Culture of Islamp. 104
Chapter 6 Current Muslim Thinking on Human Rightsp. 133
Part 3 The Context of the Nation-Statep. 157
Chapter 7 Group Versus Individual Identity in the African Debate on Human Rightsp. 159
Chapter 8 Human Rights in Francophone West Africap. 184
Chapter 9 Participatory Approaches to Human Rights in Sub-Saharan Africap. 213
Part 4 African Cultural Perspectivesp. 241
Chapter 10 An Akan Perspective on Human Rightsp. 243
Chapter 11 A Cultural Approach to Human Rights among the Dinkap. 261
Chapter 12 Traditional Culture and the Prospect for Human Rights in Africap. 290
Part 5 Prospects for a Cross-Cultural Approachp. 329
Chapter 13 Problems of Universal Cultural Legitimacy for Human Rightsp. 331
Chapter 14 Human Rights in an Evolving World Culturep. 368
Contributorsp. 383
Subject Indexp. 385
Indexp. 393