Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Human Rights

TASK: You will be given one of the 30 human rights enshrined (included) in the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights (dating back to 1948, a response to the horrors of WW2) to consider. Your task, using your own opinions as well as findings from research (I've provided you with some links with groups for and against human rights below) will be to come up with points on:
  • why it is important
  • examples of where this human right has been denied
  • examples of pressure group campaigns to enforce this human right
  • any argument against this as a human right
  • exceptions to or limits on this human right (does it conflict with others? issues around security, anti-terrorism, extremism? are there any government proposals to reform law on this area?)
  • (most importantly!!!) YOUR views on this: do we need stronger enforcement of this right, or do we need stricter limits on it? Is this a core British value; should we be pressuring other countries to recognise this human right?

[1:44] Here's the UN on what this concept of 'human rights' means, and where it came from...

[4:31] Here's a guide to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, from the Human Rights Action Center

[2:30] The 30 Articles of Human Rights ... set to some awful music


There are many campaign and pressure groups such as Liberty and Amnesty International who focus on human rights issues

BBC programme [1hr, but short clips available]: 'Anger over votes for prisoners and the release of Abu Qatada shows just what a toxic issue human rights law has become. In this provocative film, Andrew Neil travels to Europe and across Britain to find out why Britain follows these laws and asks can anything be done to restore our faith in them?'

LIBERTY (pressure group) on the Human Rights Act: 'myth buster'

RED PEPPER (moderate left-wing magazine) on why the Tory government should not change or scrap the Human Rights Act

EARTH TIMES NEWS (business group) From back in 2001, an analysis of why human rights are important for businesses

PHILOSOPHY FORUM (a right-wing contributor argues why human rights are wrong)

DAILY TELEGRAPH (right-wing newspaper) why human rights are protecting the wrong people

AMNESTY UK (pressure group) 8 reasons why we need the Human Rights Act

These links contain factual guides to the legal status of human rights in the UK, EU and globally...

Wiki: the history and evolving nature of  human rights. The Western democracies denied ethnic minorities and women the vote until relatively recently; the human rights agenda and concept has a considerable history...

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: from the UN's website (with multiple further links to explore), here's a rundown of the 30 human rights declared universal in 1948, in the aftermath of WW2. These are not legal requirements under international law, although some of these have over time become part of international law. (Wiki link on this)

How the UN protects human rights: from the UN website again, the UN's own guide to what they do, and the many agencies and strategies involved. More independent sources might question just how successful they have been.

European Convention on Human Rights (Wiki): also strongly influenced by the horrors of WW2, the ECHR came about in 1950, and was passed into law in 1953. This does have the force of international law.

UK: The Human Rights Act: you can try the Wiki; Liberty's guide; or news sources such as The Guardian (a left-wing paper which has some bias in favour of human rights) [Google results] or The Daily Telegraph (a right-wing paper which has some bias against human rights), or the BBC!

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