Menneskerettighedernes kompleksitet i et globalt perspektiv: En analyse af de mulige årsagsforklaringer der ligger bag de opståede konflikter i relation til forståelsen af menneskerettigheder med særligt henblik på ytringsfrihed og religionskritik

Simon Young Kook Nonboe-Andersen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The world order has since the middle of the last century evolved from first being bipolar, then unipolar, to be more multipolar, which is also reflected in various human rights declarations. It has greatly influenced and still characterizes the international human rights policy. It has therefore been chosen to try finding the causal explanations that underlie the human rights conflicts in general and in relation to the freedom of speech and the criticism of religion. In order to answer this, Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man and Huntington’s The Clash of Civilization and the Remaking of World Order are used as the theoretical basis, where the empirical areas that have been selected are the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the OIC’s Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, the Muhammad crisis, and the three World Conferences against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, which are the so-called Durban conferences. Fukuyama’s theory is based on a deterministic liberal conception of human history, on across all cultures and religions, throughout the history, which moves in the same direction towards the secular liberal society. Furthermore it is underlined by Fukuyama who puts forth Turkey’s application to the EU and the Arab Spring as two strong examples. In contrast, Huntington’s theoretical approach assumes that the world is characterized by 7-8 differentiated civilizations, where religion is one of the elements that help to define and distinguish civilizations. According to Huntington, these cultural differences will influence the future human rights policy and increase the crisis and conflict opportunities globally. The above theories have also been compared with other theorists, where Sørlander criticize Fukuyama’s universal human understanding, by emphasizing the technological and historical development of Islam as a barrier to Western values. Huntington’s concept of civilization meets criticism as well. Stensgaard highlights that Huntington’s definition of Islam is too narrow compared to reality, however Stensgaard still supports Huntington’s view of Islam’s renaissance. The analysis and comparison of the UN and OIC’s human rights declarations made it clearly that the UN’s Universal Declaration is formed on the basis of a universal human perception, whereas the OIC’s Cairo Declaration is subject to the Islamic Shari’ah law. Furthermore, the analysis of the Muhammad crisis showed that the UN and the OIC’s view on the freedom of speech are very different. The gap caused an international human right crisis, where the majority of the Western states supported the liberal freedom of speech, while a large part of global Islamic community did not accept insulting remarks about their prophet. Finally, the review of the Durban conferences did further manifest the great divide between the West and the OIC member countries’ understanding of human rights. The OIC countries’ aims were to criminalize criticism of religion and hate-speech by making them a violation of the freedom of speech, which resulted in a numerous Western countries to boycott Durban II and III. On the basis of the three analyzed empirical topics, it has moreover been discussed whether Fukuyama or Huntington’s theory had the largest explanatory factor. During the Muhammad crisis, Turkey took, in spite of its application to the EU, a leading role among the Islamic states against the liberal freedom of speech, which increases Huntington’s civilization based human rights. It was further shown that religion was the strongest element that divided the international human rights policy at the Durban conferences, which makes the contemporary global human rights based more on religion than universal individuality as Huntington’s theory predicts. However, the human rights in the West and in Islam have had different backgrounds, due to their individual technological and historical development, where Islam is still bound to a 1400 years old law system, which minimizes the possibilities of the Islamic states to develop Western values as Fukuyama thought the Arab Spring was the beginning of. It has become obvious that the Western and Islamic civilizations differ, which are reflected in respectively their secular and religious based human rights. It has caused crisis and conflicts rooted in different views of the freedom of speech and criticism of religion and whether individual secular human rights will be accepted by Islam in the near future seems uncertain.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages80