Central Importance Understanding Human Rights

Central Importance Understanding Human Rights

Central Importance Understanding Human Rights create awareness among the individual persons regarding their rights and duties into the society so that people facing issues related with the common rights such as the resisting torture, medical neglect and demanding for the end of hunger issues into various parts of the globe (Robeyns, 2003). At present when several countries has done so much development and many countries are at fast growing pace but still almost all the countries are Central Importance Understanding Human Rightsfacing the issue of lack of human rights in these countries such as South Africa, China, Egypt, Mexico, US and UK etc. Further human right issues are diverting into the political debate for these countries not only at the national level but also on the global front as well. In present essay main discussion would be focused on the capability aspect which is considered as the central importance for the understanding of human rights.

Capabilities as Central Importance For Understanding Of Human Rights

Human rights are considered to be entitlements for the human capabilities as along with rights for a person; obligations are also associated which defines the duties of that person towards the society which provide rights.  Nussbaum consider the capability as the major entitlement to the human right where in her approach to human rights considers life with dignity & truly human functioning (Robeyns, 2005). Nussbaum has developed a list of ten capabilities which can be considered as the central focal point for the life with dignity.

List for the capabilities proposed by Nussbaum includes life which assures living the life till natural age, bodily health which gives right to have healthy lifestyle with proper nourishment, bodily integrity which gives right to make free movement from one place to another, sense or imagination which gives right to sense or make imaginations, emotions which gives capability for attachment, practical reason which gives capability to form conception, affiliation which gives capability to live in relation to others, other species which gives capability to live in relation to other animals or plants, play which gives capability to laugh & play and control over one’s environment which gives capability to control environment for political and material aspects (Nussbaum and Sen, 1993).

Central Importance Understanding Human Rights

Martha Nussbaum has advocated basically three levels of capabilities which are important so as to map out on the influences on the functioning of a capability. These three levels of capabilities include internal capabilities, combined capabilities and internal capabilities. Basic capabilities are defined as the innate equipment of the individuals and important to define the internal and combined capabilities (Crocker, 1992). Example for basic capability can be given as capability for practical reasoning. Internal capabilities can be considered as the sufficiency of internal conditions in order to exercise the function. Example of internal capability can be given as the capability to speak freely. Combined capability can be considered as the internal capabilities combined with the favorable external conditions in order to exercise the function. For example in case a person is not allowed to speak freely then he/she has the internal capability to do but there is no combined capability to exercise this function (Nussbaum, 2000). Nussbaum defines the capabilities as the power to exercise the function but in actual sense referring other literature in capabilities capability should be the tool in order to assess how people are doing.

Central Importance For Understanding Of Human Rights Developing Relationship

Nussbaum advocates the relationship between the human rights and capabilities into an extensive manner where in the approach to human right does not lead to development instead she advocates for the Universal declaration of human rights. Human rights should be considered as the legal or non-legal rights given which can be either proved in court of law or can be considered as the non-justifiable guiding principle which all branches of government should consider in order to implement the general proposition (Sen, 1988). She argues that language of human right has several unclarities such grounding of human rights so instead of using the language of human right, language of human capabilities should be used.

Language of right is criticized as it only explains the four major roles into the public disclosure while rests of the roles are not being explained into the language or right. First premises for language of right is formed from the statement that all people have certain urgent claims with urgent treatment which resembles with the idea of basic capabilities advocated by Martha Nussbaum. For example every person has the right for political liberties which is given by government to that person (Fukuda-Parr, 2003). Secondly at the state level when we discuss about rights given by the state government there is strong normative resonance as it place high importance on the basic role of right for people. Thirdly the language of right is given high importance due to the reason that it lays its foundation of people’s choice and autonomy. It means that benchmarks are considered as the autonomous choice of people avail opportunities not the functioning part only (Otto & Schneider, 2009). Finally language of right is considered to preserve as the terrain of agreement wherein claims of resource, utility and capabilities are being worked out. See More :Social Contract Theory in Relation With Security

There have been several arguments which show the issues with the theory and ideology as proposed by Nussbaum. The aspect of human right as proposed by Nussbaum seems quite narrow and without consideration of the five conventions and two covenants as given by UN. Further similar covenants has been given in context to international human right with writing, comments, observation and draft laws through several committees & commissions on human rights (Sen, 1979). Hence the general views in terms of covenants & conventions for human rights are quite broad comparing the viewpoint of Martha Nussbaum.

Another viewpoint from Nussbaum which considers human rights as the legal or non-justifiable guiding principle only in states with ratified conventions gives the idea that viewpoint offered by Nussbaum is quite narrow. Instead of such viewpoint on the human rights, these should be considered as the political & moral tools which are invoked by the organizations & people facing hardship regardless of the fact that there governments have ratified any convention on human right or not (Kaufman, 2006). Language for right gives high hope for the potential and betterment for emancipation for large number of people.

There are several problematic aspects involved into the human right theory such as the foundation grounding in the human nature. Such problems faced can be avoided by adopting the human right approach as well (Kuklys, 2005). By agreeing with the viewpoint of human right there is space to argue that there are no special human nature or essence and the universality of human values can’t originates from the human nature which is common. There can be another argue about the applicability of human rights if they are not he universal common values. Hence it can be stated that human rights are global instruments for emancipation and this is the only way these human right values can be adopted as the universal common values (Deneulin and Lila, 2009).

The capability approach adopted explains the rationale for choosing affirmative action and right into the similar manner as it is explained by the language of human rights. The major difference in the two approaches is that, at one side language of capability would make use of the internal capability, combined capability and basic capability while language of human rights would make use of the human potential, enjoyment and rights (Fukuda-Parr & Kumar, 2009). Hence though capability theory as proposed by Nussbaum gives an enhanced approach to human right but it does not gives an integrated idea for the human right.

Further from the entire arguments developed above it can be justified that language of human right is more useful and broad as compared with the capability approach used for human rights. In the capability approach there is high level of focus on the evaluation aspect while little focus has been given to the implementation aspects (Riddle, 2010). It means capability approach does not talk about the way out through which people would achieve the capability and functioning. Though capability approach states that capability is the entitlement for human right but the same capability approach does not give enough evidence on the fact manner with which these entitlements would be guaranteed into constitutional manner.


Present essay gives the capability approach to human rights as proposed by Nussbaum and as per human right approach there are three capabilities which are basic capability, internal capability and combined capability. Though capability approach seems apt in defining the human right with several aspects but due to several limitations of the capability approach, language of human right seems more appropriate in comparison to the capability approach proposed.


  • Crocker, D. 1992, Functioning and Capability: The Foundations of Sen’s and Nussbaum’s Development Ethic, Political Theory, 20(4): 584-612.
  • Deneulin, S. & Lila, S. 2009, An Introduction to the Human Development and Capability Approach: Freedom and Agency, Sterling, VA: Earthscan
  • Fukuda-Parr, S. 2003, The Human Development Paradigm: Operationalizing Sen’s Ideas on Capabilities, Feminist Economics, 9(2/3): 301–17.
  • Fukuda-Parr, S. &Kumar, S. 2009,Handbook in Human Development: Concepts, Measures, and Policies, Delhi, IN: Oxford University Press
  • Kaufman, A. 2006,Capabilities Equality: Basic Issues and Problems, New York, NY: Routledge
  • Kuklys, W. 2005,AmartyaSen’s Capability Approach: Theoretical Insights and Empirical Applications, Springer, Berlin
  • Otto, H-U & Schneider, K.2009,From Employability Towards Capability: Luxembourg
  • Nussbaum, M. &Sen, A. 1993,The Quality of Life, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • Nussbaum, M. 2000,Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
  • Riddle, C.2010, Indexing, Capabilities, & Disability,Journal of Social Philosophy, 41(4): 527-37.
  • Robeyns, I. 2003,Sen’s capability approach and gender inequality: selecting relevant capabilities, Feminist Economics, 9 (2/3): 61-92
  • Robeyns, I.2005,The Capability Approach: A Theoretical Survey, Journal of Human Development, 6(1) 93-114
  • Sen, A. 1979,Utilitarianism and Welfarism, The Journal of Philosophy, LXXVI (1979), 463-489
  • Sen, A. 1988,The Concept of Development, In Behram and Strinivasan, eds. Handbooks of Development Economics, pp. 2–23. Vol. 1. Elsevier: North-Holland. Read More :Unit-5 Professional Responsibility And Legal Ethics

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