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Protection of all human rights for all presupposes rejection of harmful habits. No one can be denied human rights and dignity on the basis of traditions and culture, in particular because traditions and cultures are not set in stone: they change and develop; what was often true 20 years ago makes no sense to current generations. Harmful traditions are also a reminder that promoting human rights relies on educational programs and efforts. It is the actions of individuals, often supported by families and communities, that ensure compliance with these customs. Their change cannot be imposed "from above", but regular educational work with interested families and communities is necessary, this is the only way by which the introduction of human rights can be regulated together with what is perceived as special cultural rights and traditions.

For a good cause

Sometimes the international community uses sanctions to punish regimes that are considered systematic violators of human rights. Such sanctions prohibit trade with the offending country in order to put pressure on its government to revise its policies. These actions are sometimes decided unilaterally by one state, and in other cases they will be adopted by the UN Security Council. Some countries have been completely isolated by the international community: for many years South Africa was isolated by the apartheid system, and decades later sanctions were also applied to Iraq, North Korea, Iran and others. Undoubtedly, the consequences of such sanctions are felt by all people, but the less protected part of society suffers the most from them. Is this form of struggle of the international community acceptable to put an end to human rights violations in certain states?
In its report, The Responsibility to Protect, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty urged caution and emphasized prevention rather than reaction. Yet when the international community must resort to "exceptional and extraordinary measures" of "military intervention to protect human rights," they insist on large-scale casualties or ethnic cleansing to begin with. Even in this case, they proclaim such "precautionary principles".

Alline McCoy

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Human rights: constantly changing, constantly developing

Not all the questions raised in the previous chapter have clear answers - even today they remain the subject of fierce disputes. These arguments are quite important. They indicate both the pluralism of approaches, which is central to the idea of human rights, and the fact that human rights is not a science, not a frozen "ideology", but an evolving field of ethical and legal thought. We should not always expect black and white answers. These issues are complex and can only be balanced appropriately on a case-by-case basis.
But this does not mean that there are no answers at all or that there is no agreement in any area. There are many such areas, and their number is growing almost every day. Slavery was once a controversial issue, but today tolerance in this matter is no longer considered acceptable – the right to freedom from slavery is now universally recognized as a basic human right. Female circumcision, while protected in some cultures, is widely condemned as a violation of human rights. It can be argued that the death penalty is becoming such a problem, at least in Europe, where members of the Council of Europe have pledged to move towards its abolition. In fact, the abolition of the death penalty today is a prerequisite for membership in the Council of Europe. According to Amnesty International, more than two-thirds of the world's countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. At the same time, 58 countries retained the death penalty in 2009, although most still use it.

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