There were failed attempts by the Chinese delegate to further ‘de-Enlightenment’ the draft. Chang complained that the reference to ‘born’ was ‘reminiscent of Rousseau and the theory that man was naturally good’. But the Indian delegate, Mrs Menon, supported the text, declaring that ‘although different countries had different beliefs and political systems, they shared the same ideals of social justice and freedom . . . lessons could be learnt from the democracies of both the East and West.’ 132

Reason and conscience

The reference in Article 1 to ‘reason and conscience’ was strongly debated. Do these terms denote human capacities which enable us to know that we should ‘act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood’ or are they conceived as essential human characteristics which, along with human dignity, justify the ‘rights’ which follow? 133 Given that the drafters sought to avoid essentialist theories about the basis of human nature, they were presumably asserting that we are capable of knowing how to act towards one other in a manner which respects our ‘inherent dignity’ and ‘equal and inalienable rights’. 134

On either interpretation, the signifi cance of adding ‘conscience’ to ‘reason’ is as great as combining ‘human’ to ‘rights’ in signifying the departure from an Enlightenment project of declaring ‘natural rights’ against the state. The strong implication is that reason alone does not allow human beings to discover what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, but reason aligned with the human conscience can. Compassion, empathy and the capacity to care about the fate of those you do not know, or cannot even imagine being in a similar situation to, and who cannot reciprocate because of the disparity between you, takes the human rights framework beyond the reciprocity of the Golden Rule as generally interpreted (for example, by Kant) and closer to the biblical injunction to ‘love the stranger.’