African Women's Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights -- Toward a Relevant Theory and Practice
Adetoun O. llumoka
The assertion of rights presumes their existing or probable violation, and a desire to remedy or prevent violation. It has been argued that many of the standards embodied in human rights instruments today have been recognized by most societies at some point in history.1 They are articulated as rights largely vested in individuals and asserted against the state or other individuals, and their expression in specific international or national legal and policy instruments is specific to certain historical periods and social formations. Is the widespread acceptance of vague general principles, such as the right to life, health, and work, sufficient reason for asserting that the concept of human rights is universal?
The ascendancy of an international human rights discourse dominated by western liberal thought, with its emphasis on individual, civil, and political rights, has given rise to some controversy over the releshy; vance of existing concepts of human rights in Africa.2 However, the contribution of non-western societies to the broadening of the content of international human rights since the 1940 s has been significant, resulting in the articulation of so-called second and third generation rights such as those to be found in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (the Banjul Charter). Considerable emphasis has been placed by non-western countries, including those in the socialist bloc, on economic, social, and cultural rights. Differences in emphases constitute a significant challenge to the universality of the