5.4.7.1 National Human Rights to Protect Individuals

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at http://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/5471.htm)

A Bill of Rights was incorporated in the Amendments to the US Constitution to prevent the Federal Government from infringing people’s liberty; it was partly conditioned by a wish to avoid repeating the country’s experience under British Colonial rule.  Individual cases that have been subject to State rulings can be referred to the Supreme Court if necessary – as in the previously-quoted example of Seventh Day Adventists being protected by the First Amendment (5.4.3.2).

Human rights are an important component of inclusivity – as expressed by Lord Phillips, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, in a speech entitled Terrorism and Human Rights, where he said:

“Respect for human rights must, I suggest, be a key weapon in the ideological battle.  Since the Second World War we in Britain have welcomed to the United Kingdom millions of immigrants from all corners of the globe, many of them refugees from countries where human rights were not respected.  It is essential that they, and their children and grandchildren, should be confident that their adopted country treats them without discrimination and with due respect for their human rights.  If they feel that they are not being fairly treated, their consequent resentment will inevitably result in the growth of those who, actively or passively, are prepared to support the terrorists who are bent on destroying the fabric of our society.  The Human Rights Act is not merely their safeguard, it is a vital part of the foundation of our fight against terrorism”.[1]

Lord Phillips’ remarks are particularly apposite with regard to the role of human rights in fostering peaceful pluralism, as described in the previous section.  People in minority ethnic groups may feel threatened by a feeling that the majority might outvote them, if they are in a democracy, or try to impose unacceptable cultural values upon them; guaranteed human rights ensure that governance is of at least some value to everyone.

Back 

Next

[1] Lord Phillips was the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales from 2005 to 2008.  The full text of his lecture to the Singapore Academy of Law, 29 August 2006, was available in May 2018 at https://www.sal.org.sg/Newsroom/Speeches/Speech-Details/id/470.