From the comments thread of a post on feminism and human rights at Inhabitatio Dei, I followed a link to an essay by Rowan Williams. (I was sad to see that the comments thread wondered away from Rousseau and Mill into debates over the proper labeling of medieval streams of thought.)
Halden's post was to the effect that Pauline theology, which has such a reputation for misogyny these days, is much more “feminist” than the original versions of rights theory in, for example, Rousseau. He concludes quite strongly:
“What we cannot have and do not need and should not want are ‘human rights’ that cast us all in the role of the autonomous self-determining monad. The Western liberal tradition of human rights cannot eventuate gender equality, let alone reconciliation because encoded into its very fabric is an understanding (and practice!) of personhood that is violent, exploitative, selfish, and nihilistic. Thus, the only way for there to be any genuine liberation, equality, and communion between human beings is for all of us to reject the demonic fabrication that masquerades under the title of ‘human rights.’”
Almost as if nobody had ever tried to fix Rousseau's mistakes. I mean, I'm with him on the original encoding: a purely Lockean world would be a pretty awful place. And I think he does mean to suggest that the problem is not with the mere formulation of human obligations in terms of rights, but rather with the conception of the self hidden within the particular rights that emerge from the liberal tradition. At the same time, I do think the liberal tradition has managed to improve on Rousseau, so to say that it still carries the contagion of his sexism would require a strong case that the later theorists couldn't get rid of it.
Archbishop Williams tries to deploy a brief but meaningful theory of human rights that is consistent with Christian theology. Since it may be that “the language of rights is indeed the only generally intelligible way in modern political ethics of decisively challenging the positive authority of the state to do as it pleases,” we need to be able to speak it well. This may be what Halden is looking for. The first three paragraphs give a masterful review of problems with the language of rights, after which Williams proposes a view of the human person that he thinks can provide a theological foundation for human rights. As usual, it's highly engaging at some points, and highly abstract at others.