"Human rights creates the ground in which we are forced, against all our instincts, our cultural superiorities, our imperial heritages, to listen, to deliberate, to find compromises. There is some point at which deliberation has to cease. There are forms of treatment of women that in any construal of any set of traditions are not humanly possible or defensible.
So it is that double side of human rights that we need to keep in mind: a language of equality that creates the possibilities of deliberation, and then also a set of core principles of which we finally say, if we can't reach agreement: "Here, unfortunately, we have to disagree; and here, unfortunately, sometimes we may have to fight." But that is also true of the other tradition, which is why equality is so difficult.
I don't want to over-sell deliberation to you. There are moments where deliberation ceases. Human rights both creates the grounds for deliberation and tells you "we can go this far and no further."(Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry Edited transcript/audio of remarks by Michael Ignatieff, 11/2/01 Merrill House Conversation.)
:: comment :: . . . last year spent some time with the The Rights Revolution and must now investigate the following Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry . . . discover so many of us deal on an everyday basis with what we believe is an affront on our rights