1st Edition

A Magna Carta for all Humanity Homing in on Human Rights

By Francesca Klug Copyright 2015
    322 Pages
    by Routledge

    322 Pages
    by Routledge

    The Magna Carta, sealed in 1215, has come to stand for the rule of law, curbs on executive power and the freedom to enjoy basic liberties. When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations in 1948, it was heralded as 'a Magna Carta for all human kind'. Yet in the year in which this medieval Charter’s 800th anniversary is widely celebrated, the future of the UK’s commitment to international human rights standards is in doubt.

    Are ‘universal values’ commendable as a benchmark by which to judge the rest of the world, but unacceptable when applied ‘at home’? Francesca Klug takes us on a journey through time, exploring such topics as ‘British values,’ ‘natural rights,’ ‘enlightenment values’ and ‘legal rights,’ to convey what is both distinctive and challenging about the ethic and practice of universal human rights. It is only through this prism, she argues, that the current debate on human rights protection in the UK can be understood.

    This book will be of interest to students of British Politics, Law, Human Rights and International Relations.

    INTRODUCTION: The Magna Carta: marvel or myth?

    SECTION ONE: HUMAN RIGHTS: A TIME TRAVELLERS’ GUIDE. 1. First stop: in search of British values. 2. Fast -forward to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 3. Exploring the Human Rights Ethic. 4. The meaning of ‘universal’. 5. Conclusion: inspiration or foundation? Section One Anthology of other work by the author.

    SECTION TWO: WHEN UNIVERSAL HUMAN RIGHTS HIT HOME: THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT CONTROVERSY UNCUT. 6. The disputed parentage of the ECHR. 7. On the road to the HRA. 8. Principles and values. 9. Critiques and Controversies. 10. Back to the future? 11. Conclusion: Human Rights: endgame or lit flame? Section Two Anthology of other work by the author.


    Francesca Klug is a Professorial Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the London School of Economics and has researched, written and lectured on human rights for 25 years. She is a former Commissioner on the Equality and Human Rights Commission and advised on the model for incorporating the European Convention on Human Rights reflected in the UK’s Human Rights Act.

    'If you read one book on rights this is it - a global citizen's guidebook to human rights, infused with the compassion and ethics which are the hallmark of Francesca Klug.' - Baroness Helena Kennedy QC

    'Professor Francesca Klug, one of Britain’s most distinguished authorities, offers an intellectual and personal exploration of the Universal Declaration of 1948 and the very idea of human rights.' - Professor Philippe Sands, University College London

    'This is an outstanding account of how, in a fast moving world, human rights have developed into ethical values for pluralist societies. It draws on history, politics and law with all the authority and insight of an insider who helped to shape recent stages of the journey in the UK.' Sir Keir Starmer QC

    I do not know of a better introduction to thinking about the field, written with such a relevant purpose. The book is also very well written and eschews dry academic style in favour of the voice of passionate personal commitment but not at the loss of erudition or balance. There are not many good reads in our field; this is one. - Sir Nigel Rodney is Chair of the Human Rights Centre, University of Essex