The idea of human rights began as a call for individual freedom from tyranny, yet today it is exploited to rationalize oppression and promote collectivism. How did this happen?
Thursday, May 17, 2018
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
The Heritage Foundation
The idea of human rights began as a call for individual freedom from tyranny, yet today it is exploited to rationalize oppression and promote collectivism. How did this happen? In The Debasement of Human Rights, Aaron Rhodes reveals how this emancipatory ideal became so adulterated.
Rhodes identifies the fundamental flaw in the Universal Declaration of Human of Rights, the basis for many international treaties and institutions. It mixes freedom rights rooted in natural law – authentic human rights – with “economic and social rights,” or claims to material support from governments, which are intrinsically political. As a result, the idea of human rights has lost its essential meaning and moral power. The international community and civil society groups now see human rights as being defined by legislation, not by transcendent principles. Freedoms are traded off for the promise of economic benefits, and the notion of collective rights is used to justify restrictions on basic liberties. Few serious observers would deny that the concept has lost clarity. Rhodes provides a comprehensive analysis of the problem, joining philosophy and history with insights from his own extensive work in the field.
Aaron Rhodes is an international human rights advocate. He was Executive Director of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights for fourteen years and is President of the Forum for Religious Freedom–Europe. He received a B.A. from Reed College and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.