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2010 International Roundtable

International Roundtable 2010

My Sister’s and Brother’s Keeper?: Human Rights In The Era Of Globalization
October 7–9, 2010

The theme of the 2010 Macalester International Roundtable is “My Sister’s and Brother’s Keeper?: Human Rights in the Era of Globalization.” Here is how we decided to frame it.

The roots of the recognition of the sacred value of other human beings are as old as the ancient edicts of major religious revelations as well as the birth of secularism. For instance, Hinduism and its texts, appearing more than 3,000 years ago, stress the obligation to feel for, in a selfless fashion, the pain suffered by others; the Torah underscores the central imperative that accompanies the axiom that each human being is a unit of an indivisible family; Buddhism asserts solidarity with each person in the face of life’s painful tribulations; Christianity teaches the pivotal value of empathy and service to others; Islam emphasizes mercy and the inviolability of life; and the perspective of modern secularist thought has congealed around “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” whose core is a firm stand against discrimination of all types.

Notwithstanding such rich and widely distributed ethos, both the deep past and, more relevantly, the contemporary epoch are replete with harrowing cruelties that have brazenly jettisoned and continuously defy those capital religious and secular instructions. Moreover, if our phase of globalization is typified by a dense interdigitation of universalism and difference, the challenge of defining, promoting, and protecting the rights of others becomes even more complex and, thus, daunting.

With the above as a backdrop, our discussions will revolve around the following questions:

  • What are the main human rights concerns for the 21st century?
  • What are the primary forces (and contexts) responsible for (congenial to) these issues, and why?
  • In what specific ways could human rights be advanced and by whom?