Examining the Universality of International Human Rights from an Iranian Perspective

The clash between universalism and cultural relativism in international human rights came to the forefront, with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations in 1948. The UDHR, which had universalistic pretensions, brought challenges in ensuring consistency between national law and international standards, particularly in non-western countries.
Iran was one of the countries that was forced to confront the dilemma between international norms and domestic law, which clashed on certain levels, particularly after its 1979 revolutionary constitution based on Islamic law (Sharia) and democracy. This paper will focus on the question of the compatibility of modern universal human rights law with the interpretation and implementation of Sharia in Iran with the historical dimension of its political culture that can provide a better understanding of Iran’s situation vis-à-vis the UDHR and other related covenants.

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