Journal Article

Global Standards: Local Values

Fareda Banda

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 17, issue 1, pages 1-27
Published in print April 2003 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online April 2003 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI:
Global Standards: Local Values

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  • Family Law
  • Marriage and the Family


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The article, which is divided into three parts, first considers the debate around the universality of human rights focusing on family law in patrilineal African countries. It begins with a consideration of the discussions surrounding the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 before moving on to look at the positions of those who advocate a universal understanding and application of human rights norms and those who contend that universalism is no more than a fig leaf for western inspired values. The second part of the article argues that the whole cultural relativism v universalism debate is really about gender issues and in particular cultural justifications found in personal laws for discriminating against women. It considers and critiques frameworks advanced for reconciling global standards with local values. Finally the article advances the argument that the global/local debate in human rights is mirrored in discussions which have emerged between northern and southern feminists over priorities and strategies for challenging patriarchy. To see whether the two groups are really as far apart as the literature sometimes seems to suggest, the article examines African originated human rights instruments touching on issues of gender, and notes that they appear to reflect a universalist construct of values found in international human rights instruments emanating from the United Nations.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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