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Author Topic: Refugees and Rights No. 2
Babbler # 490

posted 26 July 2005 02:54 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
From here.

I would like to tackle the issues I raised in the previous thread, and see if anyone can help work out what I see as inconsistencies in the application of what I felt was a uniform framework.

The premise on which I am arguing seems to be too vague - that is, that individual rights can be enforced on an individual's behalf against other individuals, but trying to "collectivize" rights creates problems.

I am not sure how to reconcile this - especially in light of the application to the Israel-Palestine and refugee situation. It is clear to me that governments which seek to amalgamate all individual rights of a certain kind into a collectivity should at the very least be very careful doing so, and should preferably not do so.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 7770

posted 26 July 2005 05:42 PM      Profile for rsfarrell        Edit/Delete Post
You can have all kinds of rights -- fishing rights, property rights, copyrights -- and those kinds of rights can apply to any entity to which society has chosen to give attributes of soveignity; a government, a corporation, the Boy Scouts, etc. (some type of soveignity is a necessary condition because without the capacity to exercise rights they are moot). Human rights are another matter entirely. Human rights belong to humans and to no one and nothing else. They are derived from fundemental moral assumptions, and that is the source of their authority.

Because no abstraction, be it a nation, an ethnicity, or even a family, is capable of hapiness or suffering, you cannot wrong a collective; you can only wrong the individuals within it. The wrong done to a family is nothing less or more than the sum of the damage done to the individuals within and without affected by that family.

This does not truly give us an escape from the murky problem of collective rights because the individual rights of a community may necessitate granting it collective priviledges. For example, the individual right to freedom of worship may necessitate granting Catholics the collective right to build and operate churches. But these are not rights, properly speaking, and in my opinion collective interests can never trump individual rights (for example, the collective rights of the Catholics should never extend as far as forcing other people, even fellow Catholics, to attend their church).

Sorry for the lecture. As to this particular issue, I think the Palestinians have the right as individuals to return to their homeland. This is a moral as well as a legal right. I believe that Israelis have the right to remain in what has become their homeland, and that their right to do so is derived from the same source. They have no rights to the properties which they reside in and use, however; it may be practical, or compassionate, or politically necessary to continue some of the chains of ownership recognized by the state of Israel, but owners have the absolute right to the return of their stolen property; those who have received stolen property (and far from innocently, I would say) have no right to retain it.

From: Portland, Oregon | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 4670

posted 31 July 2005 04:34 AM      Profile for salaam     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I'm not sure I follow, Dr Conway. What do you mean by "collectivising" or "amalgamating" rights? Are you talking about people or legal documents?

Personally, I believe in individual rights, and a collective resposibility to enforce and protect those rights. Where "collective" rights and resposibilities are universal.

In the case of Palestinian refugees, their individual rights to return and restitution are the same shared by all human beings.
There are activists in the Palestinian community who also speak of collective Arab/Palestinian rights to the land, alongside individual rights. This mainly a nationalist perspective. As a Moslem I am not comfortable with such distinctions. I believe dividing people in such a way contradicts the universal resposiblity to protect all individual rights. The rights of Palestinian refugees are not more important than the rights of other people, and vice versa. They are one and the same. That is the meaning of universal rights, for me.

This is probably vague as well. I think I am trying to say the same thing rsfarrell just posted.
I am not sure what you mean by collectivising or the governments role in this issue. But when it comes to collectivising rights anything less than universal rights is not just, IMO. (how to work towards such an ideal is another issue.)

[ 31 July 2005: Message edited by: salaam ]

From: exile | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged

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