Closing the Gap on Moral Relativity: Comparing Human Rights Regimes in the United States and the Russian Federation

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Contemporary authors often overstate the differences within the human rights regimes in the Russian Federation and the United States. This article is meant to provide insight into why the two systems, although taking markedly different developmental paths, have come to be far more similar than is often realized. The first question raised is, how did the two human rights systems develop historically? The next question is, how did the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its subsequent split into two separate Covenants affect the rights within each system? The third question raised is, what modern advancements have taken place within each system? And finally, what failures within each system are also demonstrative of similarities within the two systems? Thus, the article begins by tracing historical developments within the two systems in order to elucidate regional variances that exist, and to explain how such variance materialized. Next, the article will provide concrete examples by comparing specific rights – such as the right to a public education, the right to social security, the right to participate in political life, and the right to privately own land – in order to provide some insight into why the author believes the differences in the two systems are often overstated by commentators. Finally, the article will explore some shortcomings that also share marked similarities within both systems. The article concludes that while the human rights regimes within Russia and the United States took markedly different paths during their development, and have relied on vastly different political and social situations during their evolution, they have ultimately reached a much greater level of maturity and protection under the law than is often given credit.

About the Author

Scott Armstrong
Vermont Law School
United States

LL.M. Candidate at Vermont Law School,

164 Chelsea str., South Royalton, Vermont, VT 05068, P.O. Box 96


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Supplementary files

For citation: Armstrong S. Closing the Gap on Moral Relativity: Comparing Human Rights Regimes in the United States and the Russian Federation. Russian Law Journal. 2016;4(1):98-128.

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