Human Rights   a no nonsense guide

Human Rights - a no nonsense guide by Olivia Ball and Paul Gready
Foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu

What are rights? The American colonists, who framed their Declaration of Independence in the 18th Century, had no doubts. "Man is born free and has equal rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Sounds fine. Who could object? But, like many another simple declarations, it gives rise to many questions. One is obvious when one starts to look at the practicalities. What if your rights clash with somebody else's?

Without directly answering that question, most people are clear that their rights are bound up with democracy: "government of the people, by the people, for the people," as Abraham Lincoln defined it in his famous speech.

Democracy, yes, but there's the rub (as Shakespeare put it).

Democratic rights, often won in bloody battles in the past, are now in danger of being seriously eroded in the very countries that regard themselves as the bastions of democracy. Think of Guatamala; think of "Stop and Search" and all the other recent curtailments of, for instance, Habeas Corpus, in pursuance of the so-called War on Terror.

So this book is very timely. It lays down, in detailed but simple language, all the rights that any citizen of a country claiming to be a democracy should be able to take as a matter of course. It tells us what these rights are. It recounts the history of the struggle for their establishment and the constant threat to their application in many places but also the ways in which they can be defended and secured.

In short, it is a guide and support for all those concerned with the maintenance of humanity and the demand to protect our human need for happiness and a satisfactory life.

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