188.8.131.52 Human Rights as a Standard of Behaviour
(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents. An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/4422.htm)
Socially-acceptable behaviour must include respecting people’s rights, as defined by that society (4.2.4), irrespective of whether these have been incorporated in law. For example, the European Convention on Human Rights, which has legal status (184.108.40.206), specifies “equality between spouses” (Protocol No. 7, Article 5); this might be hard to enforce in a court of law, but is nonetheless a required standard of behaviour.
The European Convention on Human Rights would be very difficult to change, requiring the agreement of all the signatories to it, so for immigrants to Europe they are practically-speaking non-negotiable. Other Western countries have comparable conceptions of human rights, such as the American Constitution, and these are also hard to change.
Some rights in the Western world might appear to conflict with the right to freedom of religion. Islamic texts allow women to be treated as inferior, for example, but in the West this is unacceptable – so Western Muslims have to resolve the apparent contradictions; as described later, this is possible with goodwill (4.4.4) and most of those affected have adapted peacefully.