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Ethical Debates Surrounding Human Rights

            Human rights are defined as rights that are afforded to all human beings universally on the basis of their common humanity. However the extent to which these rights are universal across all states is contentious, and determined by several unique factors, particularly culture and religion. A further ethical issue regarding human rights is the justification of intervention and the international community's 'Responsibility to Protect', and the impact of this intervention, such as that seen in Libya, on state sovereignty. However, this debate is not as clear as sovereignty versus human rights for all – it is also impacted by national interest and several other critical factors which may render any intervention ineffective, potentially causing more harm to civilians.
             Despite being considered by the West as universal, Human Rights have been severely challenged by religion, which is used as a justification for their violation by several Islamic states. This discrimination is also lawful in these states, and is simply a part of religion. For example, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, which has 57 member states including Pakistan, adopted the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam to recognise its own religious interests. Although it is supposedly aligned with the UN Declaration of Human rights (UDHR), Article 24 of the Cairo Declaration states that "all the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to Islamic Shari'ah", thus compromising the very human rights it promises. A further prominent example of human rights being violated in the name of religion is the lawful discrimination against women implemented by Saudi Arabia. Women in Saudi Arabia are treated as legal minors, and females of all ages are forbidden from travelling, studying, or working without permission from their male guardians. This prejudice violates Article 2 of the UDHR, which states that 'everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as sex'.

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