David Cameron’s party conference speech promised that his Government ‘will always pursue British interests’. But there are some lines – such as torture and mistreatment of terror detainees – that should never be crossed. How can a human rights perspective inform where this ‘line’ is drawn? Conor Gearty, professor of human rights law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, seeks collaborators to assist with new book on human rights, to be serialised on the web
From the Conservatives’ plans to abolish the Human Rights Act to debates around stem-cell research and animal cloning, human rights issues appear almost daily in our politics. Yet today we have precious few ethical resources to hand to deal with these issues.
On Wednesday night I was joined by MP David Lammy and fellow professors of human rights to launch what I believe is a unique new writing project, The Rights’ Future – a book that is not yet written. The project aims to provide information and debate about the current state of human rights in the UK and abroad. Its production will be an interactive experience, unfolding weekly as a series of online essays which will be shaped not only by my views but by students, bloggers, and other communities. The completed book will be presented at LSE’s third Literary Festival in February 2011.
At the start of each week I will post an essay on www.therightsfuture.com and invite students and the general public to comment and respond to the piece. I will respond to your comments and re-write an essay at the end of each week. Together we will write twenty essays over the next three months. We will address the history and politics of human rights, their present state in the world and map out some of the possible futures that await this morally important but highly contested phrase.
To kick off discussion I propose the following ten propositions as a manifesto for this project:
1. Human rights are social democratic politics for our post-political age.
2. Human rights need to be true even if we have to make them so.
3. Realising human rights must always be emancipatory, and securing them might sometimes be revolutionary.
4. Labour rights are essential to human rights.
5. The great religions are more friend than foe to human rights.
6. In taming counter-terrorism law human rights has the chance to renew its soul.
7. Rights are for more than humans.
8. The powerful should be made to need human rights, but they should never like them,
9. Human rights are for people not peoples.
10. Lawyers are wonderful for human rights – but as supporting actors, not the main act.
To view the book’s progress – or to participate yourself, see www.therightsfuture.com You can also sign up to The Rights’ Future’s twitter feed @therightsfuture to stay abreast of what is being posted and discussed.
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