Theres always one

Ever been to a party where one guest is determined to pour cold water on the fun and frolics?

Well the Daily Mail has certainly sought to do that by attacking the Human Rights Act – on the week the world gears up to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) this Wednesday.

In an exclusive interview with the paper Justice Minister Jack Straw conceded that he is 'frustrated' by the way the legislation has been interpreted by the courts sometimes and wants to move from a ‘rights’ to a ‘rights and responsibilities’ culture.

Well I wouldn’t argue with that.

You can’t help but wonder if this is likely to be the Mail’s gift to commemorate the vision set out 60 years ago, conceived by Eleanor Roosevelt and adopted by world leaders of that time.

In stark contrast to the Mail’s (unsurprising) attack on the Human Rights Act, Geoffrey Robertson QC’s piece in the Sunday Telegraph describing the 60 years celebration as the ‘diamond anniversary’, is altogether more appealing, and far more balanced.

Robertson realistically notes that while the world has certainly made some strides to uphold human rights for all, there’s still a long way to go.  

Similarly Francesca Klug’s piece in today’s Guardian highlights the important role that the UDHR has played over the past 60 years.  She points out that it has been important on an inspirational level, and reminded us of the value of upholding human rights for all.

It’s definitely true to say that leaders of some countries really do need to remember the responsibilities that they have to protect and uphold the rights of their citizens: Zimbabwe is one such example.

Dreadful news reports have emerged over the weekend on the scale of the humanitarian crisis unfolding there – all against a backdrop of political repression and a crackdown on peaceful protests.

Dare I suggest that if we want to start considering a world where no attention is paid to respecting human rights, perhaps we need look no further than what’s going on in Zimbabwe?

Frankly, I know which I’d prefer!

Before I sign off, thought I’d show you the incredible ‘Fire Up’ event that took place this weekend by Amnesty’s London activists.  Hundreds of people shone a light to form the symbolic Amnesty candle.  Quite remarkable.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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