POLD89H3 Lecture Notes - Westminster System, Negative And Positive Rights, Social Equality

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15 Apr 2012
What are human rights?
1. These are rights that belong to an individual or group of individuals as a
consequence of being human.
2. They denote a continuum of values or capabilities thought to enhance the human
in the human being
3. They are thought to and declared to be universal in character: all humans have
them. Hence
a. They do not have to be given
b. They cannot be take away
c. They cannot be suspended
d. BECAUSE they are natural
4. Common forms of deprivation:
a. exploitation,
b. oppression,
c. persecution.
5. There are national and international legal processes that are associated with human
6. They are collective goods (public) goods
Collective goods (public goods) possess two characteristics.
Jointness of supply
o If a good is supplied to any member of a group, then it is supplied to all members of
that group. In contrast to private goods, collective goods are therefore indivisible. If
new members are added to the group, other members who are currently benefiting
from (or “consuming”) the good will not receive a diminished amount. As in any
prisoner’s dilemma, both sides have an incentive to defect (erect trade barriers),
because, no matter what the other side does, defecting will yield a better outcome
for the defector. Unfortunately, the equilibrium outcome is mutual protectionism.
o A jointly supplied good may be either excludable or non-excludable. Some jointly
supplied goods can be withheld from members of the group, but a collective good is
jointly supplied and non-excludable.
1. Originate in ancient Greece
2. Related to the doctrine of the STOICS: human conduct should be in harmony with the law of
3. Roman law embraced the notion of human rights
4. In the Middle Ages natural law became associated with natural rights
a. However, slavery was also acceptable
5. Natural law was fully transformed into natural right during the Enlightenment
a. Locke, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau (Social Contract)
Major Documents/Events important for human rights
1. The Glorious Revolution (1688) and Bill of Rights
2. American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence (1776)
3. Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, French Revolution 1789
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The Persistence of the notion of human rights
1. The abolition of slavery
2. The rise of trade unions
3. Universal suffrage
4. The establishment of the United Nations and its Charter
The content of Human Rights: 3 levels/nature/generations of human rights
1. Comes from the French Revolution of 1789 and its banner: Liberté Egalité Fraternité
2. Liberté
a. Civil and Political Rights
i. Based on the philosophy of individualism
1. No gender, racial and other discriminations
2. Freedom from torture and other cruel treatment
3. freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile;
4. the right to a fair and public trial;
5. freedom from interference in privacy and correspondence;
6. freedom of movement and residence;
7. the right to asylum from persecution;
8. freedom of thought, conscience, and religion;
9. freedom of opinion and expression;
10. freedom of peaceful assembly and association;
11. the right to participate in government, directly or through free
12. the right to own property and the right not to be deprived of it
ii. All those rights were fought for in the American and French revolutions and
to the rise of capitalism
3. Egalité
a. Economic, cultural and social rights
b. These are right to (rather than freedoms from) Hence, they are positive rights
i. Trade unionism
ii. Right to employment, decent wages, education, etc.
iii. Social equality
4. Fraternité
a. Article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “everyone is entitled to a
social and international order in which the rights set forth in this declaration can be
fully realized
i. the right to political, economic, social, and cultural self-determination;
ii. the right to economic and social development;
iii. the right to participate in and benefit from “the common heritage of
mankind” (space resources, scientific, technical progress, etc.
iv. the right to peace;
v. the right to a healthy and sustainable environment;
vi. the right to humanitarian disaster relief
Article 1 (3)
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