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The Social Setting of Human Rights: The Process of Deprivation and Non-Fulfillment of Values (with Lung-chu Chen and Harold D. Lasswell), 46 Revista Juridica de la Universidad de Puerto Rico 477 (1977)


The existence in fact of a world community, in the sense of the long-term interdetermination of all individuals with regard to all values, is today commonly recognized. This larger community of humankind may be observed to comprise a whole hierarchy of interpenetrating lesser communities, of many different sizes and characteristics, with the larger communities affecting the lesser communities contained within them and the lesser communities, in turn, affecting the larger communities which they compose. In the comprehensive social process which transcends all these different communities, individual human beings, affected by constantly changing environmental and predispositional factors, are continuosly engaged in the shaping and sharing of all values, with achievement of many different outcomes in deprivation and fulfillment. It is these outcomes in deprivation and fulfillment in the shaping and sharing of values which constitute, in an empirical and policy-oriented conception, the human rights which the larger community of humankind protects or fails to protect.

The first indispensable step in relevant and effective inquiry must be that of creating a map or model of world social process, as the larger context of human rights, which will permit empirical reference to human rights problems in whatever degrees of comprehensiveness and precision that performance of the necessary intellectual tasks may require. It is this most comprehensive social process which affects, not merely degrees in the achievement of human rights, but also the kinds of claims that are made to authoritative decision for redress of deprivations and non-fulfillments, as well as the responding outcomes in decision. With a map of world social process, which both exhibits broad outlines. and points to relevant detail, a scholarly observer may be able to formulate the claims which participants make to authoritative decision in factual terms of discrepancy between community aspiration and achievement and, hence, to facilitate comparisons in flows of authoritative decisions through time and across community boundaries.

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