13 Hum. Rts. Q. 368 (1991)
Collective Rights

handle is hein.journals/hurq13 and id is 378 raw text is: HUMAN RIGHTS QUARTERLY

Collective Rights
Douglas Sanders
I. INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS, GROUP RIGHTS, COLLECTIVE RIGHTS
Collective rights have not achieved the level of acceptance accorded to
individual rights. While no one would attack the idea of individual rights
and expect to be taken seriously, respectable arguments are often made
against the recognition of collective rights. Some argue that collective rights
are inconsistent with individual rights. Minority groups are often seen as
destabilizing factors in an international system based on states. South Africa
has used group rights to justify apartheid. Some Western countries see
assertions of rights of peoples, collective rights, and solidarity rights
as masking the authoritarian agendas of some third world states. So while
support for the idea of collective rights has clearly grown, the theoretical
and practical debates are not over.
Unfortunately, these debates are too often based on confused notions
about the meaning of collective rights. Clear distinctions must be made
between individual rights, group rights, and collective rights.
A. Individual Rights
Society is accustomed to individuals asserting rights, the individual right to
due process in criminal proceedings being a good example. In contrast, the
right of the individual to equality is somewhat different, for discrimination
almost always occurs because the individual is part of a group with fixed
characteristics not unique to single individuals or the result of individual
achievement. Such group characteristics, as found in the various provisions
prohibiting discrimination, include race, sex, age, political or religious belief,
national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, class, language, and dis-
ability. Insofar as the individual fighting discrimination for having any of
these characteristics is seeking to be judged on individual criteria, and not
Human Rights Quarterly 13 (1991) 368-386 o 1991 by The Johns Hopkins University Press

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