Individual Duty within a Human Rights Discourse  book cover
1st Edition

Individual Duty within a Human Rights Discourse

ISBN 9781138258334
Published November 10, 2016 by Routledge
296 Pages

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Book Description

Over the past two decades or so, legal literature has devoted much attention to various human rights issues at both the national and international levels. Yet there has been comparatively little written on the concept and importance of individual duty within the human rights discourse. This book attempts to comprehensively and systematically examine the corollary of human right - the principle of individual duty - from a number of different perspectives, including history, the law (principally international human rights and humanitarian law and national constitutional law), philosophy, jurisprudence, religion, and ethics. The author attempts to demonstrate that a greater emphasis upon individual duties is consistent with a cultural relativist critique, natural law theory, the experience of national legal systems and regional human rights systems, certain socio-political philosophies and conventional sociological postulates, and the dictates of good public policy. The author urges the assignment of a greater, indeed revived, role for the principle of individual duty in order to achieve a more salutary balance between rights and duties and in the relationship between individual freedom and the welfare of the general community.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; The historical development of the principle of duty and its contemporary philosophical sources; The taxonomy of duties; Religion, ethics and the principle of individual duty; Individual criminal responsibility under international law; The position of individual duty within the international and regional human rights system; Particular individual duties explicitly recognised under international and regional human rights law and by national law; Socialism and individual duty; Impoverished 'Rights Talk', the sociology of duty and the re-emergence of communitarianism; The enforcement of individual duties; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index; Tables.

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Douglas Hodgson is Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Western Australia in Perth, Australia.


'This book is a must for anyone with an inquiring mind who is thinking about the law on human rights. It turns the usual debate on its head by concentrating on duties rather than rights, emphasising that individual duties and community-mindedness are essential complements to the existing legal mechanisms. The author draws on a fascinating variety of sources from a wide range of disciplines, including history, theology and philosophy. Clearly written, the work is learned and scholarly in showing that its central tenet is in fact familiar in many human organisations and thought systems.' Professor Evelyn Ellis, University of Birmingham, UK 'Hodgson presents his material clearly and purposefully and the book provides accessible reading: the argument is clear and well-signposted. It provides a very useful account for those seeking an overvies of this kind of critique of human rights law.' Australian Year Book of International Law