The state of human rights in Tunisia: halfway between universalism and cultural relativism

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The promulgation of international texts on human rights, which came after the announcement of the universal declaration proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 01 December 8491 has generated the emergence of a new concept : the concept of universality of human rights . This delicate, multidimensional yet very important notion deserves to be clarified and defined in order to be easily apprehended and understood. Simply stated, universality of human rights is one of the most important principles codified in international law. It is the central idea of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a foundational aspect of the entire human rights system. It means that human rights must be the same everywhere and for everyone. By virtue of being human, every individual is entitled to inalienable rights and freedoms. These rights ensure the dignity and worth of the human person and guarantee human well-being. In our globalized world where the different political and economic forces resulted in serious migration flows worldwide, the separation of different cultures is not an option anymore: The rights of the Universal Declaration are now politically and legally universal, having been accepted by virtually all states, incorporated into their own laws, and translated into international legal obligations. As a matter of fact, the concept of universal human rights is starting to have a strong and broad presence in domestic law and especially in constitutional and transitional constitutional law. States in many parts of the world are regularly amending and ,in some cases, re-writing entirely new constitutions. This may happen for a variety of reasons. For example, it may reflect a desire to redefine the distribution of political power which is the case of the new Tunisian constitution. Actually, the importance of constitutionalizing human rights in general comes from the fact that these rights, when given a constitutional importance become immune to any limitation or breach that can be originated by individuals, legal texts or public authorities considering that all of the above are in the obligation of compliance with the supreme law of the state.