human rights

Without effective enforcement mechanisms, human rights talk is not mere rhetoric

The modern human rights doctrine responds to an intention of providing a precise
formula of what human dignity entails and the respect it deserves. However, some argue,
the chosen formula is inadequate. Perhaps the most relevant and pervasive challenge to the
liberal doctrine is that which addresses the emptiness apparently embedded in human rights
talk. Proponents of such views allege that this rhetorical use is a “bitter mockery to
the poor and needy” (O’Neill, 1996:133) inasmuch as talking of rights without their proper
enforcement makes them “an inherently vacuous conception, and to speak of human rights
is a kind of puffery or white magic” (Geuss, 2001:144).