The History of Human Rights: From Ancient Times to the Globalization Era:
Quoting from a review:
"Beginning with the controversy of human rights and religion, Ishay argues that each great religion contains important humanistic elements which have contributed to our modern conceptions of rights. For example, in the West, the impact of Judeo-Christian morality and ethics has been central to the development of human rights. As Ishay notes Judeo-Christian morality was secularized, separated from politics, and strengthened in influence by the advent of capitalism and colonialism in Europe, largely at the expense of other notions of ethics. Because of the development of capitalism in Europe, Judeo-Christian ethics became secularized with the progress of the Reformation (16th century) and the democratic revolutions of the eighteenth century, finally being transformed into a liberal discourse that dominates our current conception of human rights. "Pew Forum: Sources of Basic Human Rights Ideas: A Christian Perspective:
"The background story of how this definition of human rights came to enter the official, cross-cultural, international definition of standards, however, is only now being told. In fresh research, the British scholar-pastor, Canon John Nurser, has documented in extended detail the ways in which, from 1939 until 1947, leading Ecumenical Protestant figures worked not only with key figures in developing the Bretton Woods agreements, anticipating a post-war need for economic stability and development, but formed the Commission for a Just and Durable Peace, the Churches' Commission on International Affairs, and later the Joint Committee on Religious Liberty, all under the auspices of the Federal Council of Churches, with close connections to the emerging World Council of Churches and the International Missionary Conference. These organizations, notably led by Lutheran O. Frederick Nolde, Congregationalist Richard Fagley, Baptist M. Searle Bates, and Presbyterian John A. Mackay, among others, were dedicated to shaping what they then called a "new world order" that would honor human rights. They worked closely with Jacob Blaustein and Joseph Proskauer of the American Jewish Committee and with twelve bishops of the Roman Catholic Church to encourage the formation of the drafting committees of the United Nations Charter Committee and the committee that composed the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and deeply shaped their results. Further, they worked through their church and synagogue contacts at the local level to build the popular support for what they were doing. In fact, the more of this history that is dug out, the clearer it becomes that they supplied much of the intellectual and ethical substance that formed these so-called "secular" documents. Such data is if particular importance, for it helps correct the secularists' slanderous treatment of religion as the cause of human rights violations."And later:
"Certainly we cannot say that all of Judaism or of Christianity has supported human rights; it has been key minority traditions that have argued their case over long periods of time and become more widely accepted. Nor can we say that even these traditions have been faithful to the implications of their own heritage at all times, and the horror stories of our pasts also have to be told to mitigate any temptation to triumphalism. Still, intellectual honesty demands recognition of the fact that what passes as "secular," "western" principles of basic human rights developed nowhere else than out of key strands of the biblically-rooted religions. And while many scholars and leaders from other traditions have endorsed them, and found resources in their own traditions that point to quite similar principles, today these views are under suspicion both by some Asian leaders who appeal to Asian Values and by some communitarian and postmodern philosophers in the West who have challenged the very idea of human rights."