The development of a global community holds a lot of promise for the improvement of human rights. The basis for such a community is mutual understanding among different countries people groups and an increasing sense of universal responsibility towards all members. This is attainable by implementing a common code of human rights across the globe along the lines of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The declaration’s development was consultative and was not the product of any one nation but that of the United Nations member states hence it promises to provide the binding code required to define international human relations without raising the fear of cultural imperialism.
A community comprises several members who share certain characteristics in their way of life. It is one where members have “interests and concerns that go beyond national interests and concerns” (Iriye 6).The elements shared vary and may include values, resources, geographical space, and challenges, among others.
For a community to be global, it requires to have certain elements that do not limit its existence to particular pockets of humanity. This includes geographical spread, universal values, and shared aspirations among its membership. It should have the capacity to act universally, and to have its effects and influence felt across the world. Since the advent of the internet, the concept of a global community has gained much currency as the internet reduces the gap created by spatial barriers.
People from all over the world participate in global forums and participate in internet activity creating the ground for truly global communities. Social media platforms led by Facebook present some of the largest global communities where social media users interact to share their thoughts, hopes, and aspirations.
One of the expressions of shared values in the global community is human rights. Human rights are certain entitlements to any human being simply by virtue of being human. The United Nations defined human rights applicable to all people on earth to all member countries. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights lists the agreed upon standards in a set of thirty articles.
The declaration speaks of a human brotherhood and aims at creating a world where human beings relate in an equal fashion, with access to opportunities to acquire basic resources for life, along with dignity and respect. This document is an excellent basis for the development of a global community, where human rights form part of the universal values upheld by all members. They provide an equalizing platform for all people. Donnelly observes, “Human rights are equal rights” (10).
It is not accurate to regard human rights as a form of cultural imperialism. This is because no one imposes these rights on anyone else in themselves, but a stronger community may use advocacy for the respect of human rights as a means of subjugating other cultures. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights arose through consensus.
No one imposed the declaration on the member countries of the United Nations. However, their application provides opportunities for cultural imperialism since not all countries respect these rights. When nations insist that they will only relate with countries that respect these rights, the result is cultural imperialism. The Declaration represents the sum total of the best values that different human communities identify as elementary for the decent relations of men.
No one member of the global community can lay claim to the development and propagation of these rights in isolation. Rather, all of humanity has a contribution and hence a stake in them. While they remain open to abuse by superior powers to exploit and manipulate weaker nations, they do not form a basis for the subjugation of nations or in any way contribute to cultural imperialism.
In the journey towards a global community, culture, power, and politics are strong forces that influence the development of a global sense of belonging. Powerful nations do not like to take responsibility for their actions on the behest of other nations, and as such, they tend to resist efforts that may make them equal members of the global community.
A case in point is the United States, which generally resist global efforts aimed at creating some form of supranational legislation seen to impinge on its sovereignty. It is not a signatory to the Rome statute, and as a result, the International Criminal Court has acquired the image of a court that serves failed states. If powerful countries such as the United States were signatories, it would have provided the court with a much stronger sense of authority in the execution of its mandate.
Culture is a force to reckon with in the development of a global community. China has a unique culture that for centuries has been inward looking. Until recently, China has kept its affairs to itself. As it has begun seeking to relate more strongly with other countries, its foreign policy continues to reflect their cultural disposition.
It does not interfere with the internal politics of its trading partners, and does not use human rights record of any country as a prerequisite for establishment of trading relations. Political considerations also influence the development of global communities. When the United Kingdom voted against joining the Eurozone, political considerations informed the taking of this decision.
There are two key influences of nationalism in a global community. Nationalism would appear like a strong divisive force interfering with the harmonious relations of nations when nations aggressively seek to assert their identity and values in the international platform. It may be what stops the emergence of true universal brother-hood.
On the second count, it will appear as the basis for a global community. Taking pride in one’s nation qualifies one to be a responsible member of the global community, much in the same way as belonging to a proud family prepares one for effective engagement with the local community.
With a widespread global worldview, there is bound to be some change in the perception of other people within the global community. Recognizing that all humans are essentially related and are interdependent on each other would create a world where international responsibilities have a greater appeal to all persons.
This will reduce competition for resources and improve collaboration between different nations in social, economic, and political endeavors. The fields of education, health, and science would benefit immensely from this.
There will be improved respect for human rights across the globe since all persons will see their role in the world and will feel responsible toward the general goodwill of humanity. There will be a greater chance of closing up gaps in international treaties relating to the environment, and countries with poor human right records will find much compulsion to improve their human rights records to become fitting members of the global community.
Culture is essentially a product of environment, with adaptation to living conditions as the guiding force in its development. There are elements of culture that will continue to be unique in a global community because different peoples adapt differently to their living conditions. However, the areas of commonality will increase.
Cultural values will grow closer to each other right across the global community. A case in point is the United Republic of Tanzania. After her colonization by the Germans and later the British, the country attained independence and thereafter pursued a policy of ‘ujamaa’, a Swahili word meaning brother-hood.
The colonial boundaries brought together different people groups with different cultures who have since amalgamated into a largely unified people. Certain cultural elements remain distinct from one tribe to another. Overall, there has emerged a truly Tanzanian culture with certain values such as hospitality and common courtesy.
This is a possible result worldwide propelled by the emergence of a global community. If this took place, the interpretation of human rights will be universal and hence there will be much progress in the field of human rights right across the world. A respect for human rights would underpin the new global culture. After all, Orend reminds us, human rights “are values committing us to treating each other in ways we think we all deserve” (19).
The prospects for the emergence of a global community grow everyday with the threats to it. There is a higher degree of connectivity between different peoples across the earth facilitated by the emergence and growth of the internet. In the field of human rights, different types of human rights groups have emerged.
They are heavily involved in championing for the rights of marginalized. There is an increased awareness of human rights issues in many countries especially those that have poor records. The sense of shared humanity literally pervades all sectors of the human experience. The emergence of a global community will depend on the handling of these elements. It will also depend on whether the forces driving this development will find encouragement and deliberate direction from authorities.
Donnelly, Jack. Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice. New York: Cornell University Press, 2003. Print.
Iriye, Akira. Global Community: The Role of International Organizations in Making of the Contemporary World. London: University of California Press, 2003. Print.
Orend, Brian. Human Rights: Concept and Context. Ontario: Broadview Press, 2002. Print.