Human Rights

Declarations of human rights
Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights
Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam

Pages about Islam:
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Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights
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Declarations of human rights

It is not sufficient to be told by the state "you can do whatever laws don't stop you doing". How can anyone know what all the laws are? What would stop law-makers making any laws they choose?

"Human rights" tell us what we can do, without needing to know all the laws. And they tell law-makers what sorts of laws they cannot make. A useful summary of what is meant by "human rights" is provided by Amnesty International: "Human rights are those rights that belong to every individual - man or woman, girl or boy, infant or elder - simply because she or he is a human being". There are comprehensive summaries and links at Answers.com.

Declaration Commentary
England & Wales
Bill of Rights, 1689. "An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown". This rejected Roman Catholic rule and identified a Protestant line of succession. Its main effect was to shift much power from the Monarch to Parliament, giving Parliament primacy. It also gave some rights to subjects in relations with both the Monarch and Parliament, but it was not a declaration of inherent subjects' rights or citizens' rights in the way that later declarations were. Although its context was initially local to England and Wales, it influenced the style and words of later declarations of rights in other parts of the world.
United States of America
Bill of Rights, 1791. The first ten Amendments to the Constitution. In contrast to the England and Wales "Bill of Rights", the US Bill of Rights, comprising the first ten Amendments to the Constitution, focuses on the rights of citizens. The themes include freedom of religion, speech, and the press, and the rights of peaceful assembly and petition; the rights of the people to form a "well-regulated militia", and to keep and bear arms; the rights to private property; fair treatment for accused criminals; protection from unreasonable search and seizure; freedom from self-incrimination; a speedy and impartial jury trial; and representation by counsel.
United Nations
The International Bill of Human Rights (1966) The International Bill of Human Rights consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see below), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. This is not binding on the nations signing up to it. But it remains a powerful example of a set of straightforward statements of what the rights of every person on the planet should be. Any later declaration that contradicts this needs to justify itself, and will typically fail to do so.
Council of Europe

The Council of Europe comprises 46 countries, including 21 countries from Central and Eastern Europe, and has application from 1 more country (Bélarus). It has granted observer status to 5 more countries (the Holy See, the United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico). It is distinct from the 25-nation European Union, but no country has ever joined the Union without first belonging to the Council of Europe, and hopefully none ever will.

Among other things, the Council was set up to defend human rights, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law. The Council of Europe's Vienna Summit in October 1993 set out new political aims. The Heads of State and Government cast the Council of Europe as the guardian of democratic security - founded on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 1950. By its nature, this is the governing declaration of human rights in Europe. Unlike the UN's "Universal Declaration of Human Rights", this is binding, and member nations are subject to the European Court of Human Rights, or their own courts. Many of the phrases and statements of the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" are transcribed and expanded upon.
United Kingdom
Human Rights Act 1998. ("HRA 1998").

This Act brings most of the "European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms" into UK law, so that UK courts can handle human rights cases, instead of UK citizens having to take them to the European Court of Human Rights.

Some politicians and others have pointed to what they believe are, (and in fact may well be), silly decisions arising from the HRA 1998, as evidence that the HRA 1998 needs to be repealed, and perhaps even that the "European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms" should be ignored. This is a foolish attitude! Any process that involves human beings will sometimes lead to silly conclusions - including anything that would replace these Acts and Conventions! We need to minimise harm to innocent (that is, unconvicted) people, and harming other innocent (that is, unconvicted) people is not the way to do so! No one has yet identified an alternative that would cause less harm to innocent people.

Islam

Islam is a complete culture, not "just" a religion. It can usefully be considered to be a combination of a religion and a political manifesto.

The latter includes aspects of sharia (god-given, rather than secular) law, and is the basis of Islam's inherent inability to accept universal human rights; the sexual inequality heavily biased in favour of men; the incompatibility between secular versus Islamic government and hence antipathy towards "Western" concepts of democracy; the influence on foreign relations, (especially in relation to the imperative to create a global Islamic state); constraints on financial policy; etc.

Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights (1981)

These declarations are discussed and analysed at the links on the left.

These declarations are totally incompatible with secular or universal human rights. Probably any Islamic declaration will be incompatible with secular human rights. Islam itself is incompatible with the sorts of human rights described by the United Nations' "Universal Declaration of Human Rights", and the Council of Europe's "European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms", and the United Kingdom's "Human Rights Act 1998", (and many others).

The reason is simple! Any Islamic declaration of human rights will always state that the rights described must conform to Islamic law - "shariah law" Muslims only have the right to do what Islam allows them to do, and have a duty to do what Islam instructs them to do.

Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (1990)
Page last updated: 29 April, 2006 © Copyright Barry Pearson 2006