The UK Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, together with the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, are hoping to use Britain’s current position as chair of the Council of Europe to force through reform of the European Court of Human Rights to get it back to dealing with ‘serious human rights issues’.
Talking to the Daily Telegraph Mr Clarke said that Britain was ‘poised’ to do a deal on reforming the ECHR that would prevent it being used by “every individual who has lost his own particular case”.
“What we are trying to do is get the role of the court sorted out so that it deals with serious human rights issues of the kind that require an international court.” Ken Clarke told the Telegraph.
“We want the court back to its proper business as an international court which takes up serious issues of principle when a member state or its courts, or its parliament, are arguably in serious breach of the [European Human Rights] convention.”
But the problem is not with the courts it is with the law and the whole concept of human rights.
If a ‘right’ is a ‘human right’ then it applies to all humans regardless of who they are or what they have done or what they may be about to do.
The whole concept of human rights stems from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10th December 1948.
This makes no bones about human rights; 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. ………. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Born after the horrors of WWII and designed to prevent another Holocaust it sounds a proper state of affairs doesn’t it. But what of ordinary criminals? Should they have ‘liberty’? Should a terrorist, who is about to kill a dozen people, have the right not to be shot by an agent of the state in the form of a police marksman?
Of course not you say.
Then there is the plight of millions, if not billions, of people around the planet who suffer under despotic rulers. Has the concept of ‘human rights’ helped them?
Unless human rights apply to all humans at all times, they are either not human rights or we are changing the status of a human into a non-human as the trigger is pulled or the sentence passed.
On top of that the very fact that Britain wants to tinker with the human rights courts means that it is not a settled set in stone concept. So how can they possibly be ‘human rights’?
We in the ‘civilised’ world salve our consciences by having a concept of human rights. It makes us feel warm and fuzzy as well as superior to placers where babies get slaughtered. And there is the problem, human rights only exist where the victim can either protect their own rights or someone else is prepared to do it for them, i.e. where they can be enforced. How can ‘human rights’ possibly be geographically based?
Also, by having such a misguided concept that spawns equally misguided laws, we end up making a very large rod for our own backs. (The lawyers love it though.)
What we need is a new concept based on ‘human privileges’, where the state lays down a basic set of privileges on behalf of society that people can enjoy as long as they uphold their part of the bargain. Break the law and the privilege you have can be withdrawn.
This approach accepts the reality of the position and power of the state with regard to that of the individual.