a+ a- print

Human Rights in the Twenty-first Century: A Dialogue
with Austregésilo de Athayde

Human Rights in the Twenty-first Century
Pub. Year



I.B. Tauris
(*Acquired by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2018)



Born of their struggles to uphold human rights this dialogue represents the coming together of two kindred spirits, Austregésilo de Athayde (1898-1993) and Daisaku Ikeda. Athayde was president of the Brazilian Academy of Letters and, as Brazilian representative to the United Nations, a decisive voice in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Finding that Buddhist principles can enrich the human rights movement, they aim to convey a "new humanism" which encapsulates the spirit of the declaration, the supreme value of the human being.

Ikeda pinpoints the heart of this "new humanism" as the "firm belief in the absolute equality" of all people based on the universal dignity or Buddhahood inherent within in all life. From the recognition that all people share a common humanity, a sense of brotherhood replaces obsession with such differences as nationality, ideology and culture. Athayde writes that the impetus for resolving the most difficult obstacle in drafting the universal declaration—diversity of opinion—was "enthusiasm" for their "shared humanity."

The second tenant is the utilization of "non-violent, compassionate dialogue" to unite people who are in opposition and effect change. The co-authors cite the achievements of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela as proof that non-violent means are a powerful alternative to war and aggression.

The Bodhisattva way, the third tenant, is rooted in belief in the dignity within all people. Ikeda states it "combines the interests of self and of others" and calls for individuals to accept and constantly strive to manifest their own Buddhahood through compassionate action for the happiness and general well being of others.

Athayde and Ikeda designate Shakyamuni, whose life and philosophy was the first clear statement of the importance of individual human rights, as the inspiration for the human rights movement. Crystallized in their new humanism, they define "equality, liberty and brotherhood" as the "sacred rights of all human beings" and characterize the path to a universal culture of human rights as synonymous with the spiritual evolution of humanity. Athayde and Ikeda advocate an inspiring model of behavior for both individuals and human rights activists in the creation of peace for the 21st century.

Human Rights in the Twenty-first Century is also available in Japanese and Portuguese.


Preface by Austregésilo de Athayde
Preface by Daisaku Ikeda
  1. Towards the Century of the Renaissance of Human Rights
    Armed with Words
    Recollections of Youth
    Holy Orders to Journalism
    Recollections of Parents and Wife
    The Brazilian Academy of Letters

  2. Continuing the Fervent Spirit of Humanism
    Champions of Human Rights
    Five Concrete Proposals
    Mandela University
    The Practice of Satyāgraha
    Transcending Obsession with Differences

  3. Carrying the Banner of Humanism
    Mentors and Disciples Find Each Other
    Gandhi's Heritage from Shakyamuni
    The Enlightenment
    Loving and Trusting

  4. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: An Eternal Guiding Light for All Peoples
    Not to Repeat the Tragedy of the Second World War
    Friendships with Mrs. Roosevelt and Dr. Cassin
    Committee Three
    Responding and Revising
    The Buddhist Viewpoint

  5. Towards a Spiritually United World; Tracing Human Rights Thought
    Philosophical Foundation
    Two Currents
    Confronting Ignorance
    Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophers
    Power from Within
    Equality Arising from the Universal Law

  6. Expanding the Network of Humanism Around the Globe
    Dialogue with Patience
    Passionate Self-sacrifice
    Integrated Rights
    Respect for the Dignity of All Life Forms
    Global Influence
    The Universality of the Declaration
    Human Rights in the Light of the Three Realms of Existence and the Theory of Eshō-funi

  7. Treasuring the Dignity of Each Individual
    Freedom of the Spirit
    Freedom of Thought in Peril
    Separation of State and Religion
    Corrupt Buddhist Priesthood

  8. Path to the New Century of Human Rights
    Education: The First Prerequisite of Progress
    New Perspectives and Ideals
    The Pursuit of Happiness
    Brazilian Education

  9. Towards the New Millennium
    Proof of the Possibility of Peace
    The Right to Live in Peace
    Symbiosis of Humanity and Nature
    Human Development
    A Model Bodhisattva
    The Advent of a New Humanism

  10. Paternal Images
    Immortal Achievements of Champion of Human Rights
    The Meaning of Life
    At Life's Major Stages
    Hardships in Youth
    Treasured People, Treasured Beloved Books
    Unforgettable Encounters

    A Wholesome, Active Way of Life
    Fervour Bordering on Obstinacy
    Like Long-lost Comrades
    Supporting the United Nations
    Fighting Against Unjust Authority and Power
    Hope and Courage for the People

    Free Expression
    The Most Beautiful Women in Rio de Janeiro
    Strength from Trees and Stars
    No Linguistic or Racial Barriers
    Peace and Human Rights are Inseparable


Share this page on

  • Facebook
  • X