Human rights now a forum for organised interest groups and the politically powerful

Dec 22, 2018 by

by Gordon MacDonald, The Scotsman:

It is 70 years this year since the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Both the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee are marking this anniversary by publishing reports calling for the further embedding of human rights into Scots law.
The UDHR was adopted in 1948 following the atrocities of Nazism and Fascism, the horrors of the Second World War and the spectre of Communist totalitarianism threatening the post-war world. The aim was to create an international legal order where state power would be limited and the potential for its abuse curtailed. Human rights were not invented in 1948, but simply codified and recognised by the international community.
Prior to 1948, there had been a long tradition of human rights in Europe dating back as far as the Edict of Milan in 313 which gave religious liberty to Christians living in the Roman Empire. The Christian worldview brought about a seismic shift in conceptions of the nature and appropriate use of state power. The absolutism which exemplified state power in the ancient pagan world was rejected. During the Middle Ages, the separation of secular and spiritual authority was increasingly articulated with the Church having a teaching role on moral matters and the state a juridical role. It is from this root that modern human rights theory developed.

Human rights are essential in any society which seeks to promote the wellbeing of its citizens. They are derived from a Christian understanding that each and every person has intrinsic worth and value and that there are limitations placed on the authority and power of the state. The power of the state is itself derived from a higher authority and dependent upon the moral law of God for its legitimacy.

Read here

See also: The Universal Declaration and the distortion of human rights, by Elyssa Koren and Paul Coleman, Public Discourse


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