Tagged: Human Rights

The Execution of Damiens

The use of torture as a form of punishment was commonplace in European societies into the early 19th century. Today, we are outraged by mass killings, genocide, and ISIS beheadings, but extreme violence has always been there; it runs deep in human history. We are all traumatized, and it is difficult to work through the shadows of our violent past. The worst form of violence is often state-sponsored. Most political systems have a very dark and unexamined history when it comes to torture and killings. One case that made history was the execution of Robert-François Damiens in 1757 in France. He...

China: Charter 08

The Charter 08 was signed by over three hundred prominent Chinese citizens, and published in 2008. It was conceived and written in admiration of the 1977 Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia. The Chinese document calls not for reform of the current political system, but for an end to it. It wants to abolish one-party rule, and replace it with a system based on human rights and democracy. The publication day, December 10, 2008, was selected because it is the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948. The Declaration is reflected in the Charter because it outlines the vision of a...

What is characteristic about Human Rights?

Human rights are universal: all human beings have these rights, for no other reason than their humanity and the values attached to humanity; this means that human rights precede and trump considerations of national sovereignty and that national sovereignty, therefore, does not provide a means to escape human rights obligations. They are also moral claims, and therefore they are grounded in morality, not just law. They are necessary for the protection and realization of certain fundamental, basic and universal human values and interests. They are instrumental principles in the sense that we don’t want them for their own sake; they are means for the creation of better life quality and not just goals in themselves.

What does it mean to have rights?

When thinking about what it means to have a right it is sometimes useful to replace the word “right” with another word that expresses something similar. Let’s review some of these words in order to get a more differentiated notion of what it means to have rights. Each of these translations only capture an aspect of what we usually understand by the word “right,” but taken together they give a more comprehensive meaning of the concept of “rights”. This overview is partially based on the work of the influential American Jurist Wesley Hohfeld (1879-1918). Hohfeld’s analytic framework Wesley Hohfeld was a Harvard law professor who...

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

ARTICLE !: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
ARTICLE 2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
ARTICLE 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

History of Human Rights

Which movements, ideas, and events have contributed to the history and development of the concept of human rights?  The following list is very selective; it shows some historical highlights that manifest the trend that runs through the Western legal and philosophical traditions. Traditional Religions all support idea that the human person has worth and value and should be treated with a measure of dignity and respect. This leads to the idea that there are enduring standards of morality and justice against which to evaluate people’s actions and the laws of communities. However, the emphasis in religion is on duties, not...

The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness

The field of Consciousness research is rapidly evolving. Abundant new techniques and strategies for human and non-human animal research have been developed. Consequently, more data is becoming readily available, and this calls for a periodic reevaluation of previously held preconceptions in this field. Studies of non-human animals have shown that homologous brain circuits correlated with conscious experience and perception can be selectively facilitated and disrupted to assess whether they are in fact necessary for those experiences