Walking into the Keynes library being handed a glass of wine (or a soft drink) there was an air of sophistication the book launch for the new Cambridge Companion to Human Rights Law book. Edited by Conor Gearty from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Costas Douzinas from Birkbeck College, with each chapter written by a different author this book will be destined to pack a punch.
After some time of mingling with other people and catching up with those who you see every now and then, the launch was kicked off with some inspiring short talks. Speakers included Baroness Helen Kennedy QC, Michael Mansfield QC, Costas Douzinas, and Conor Gearty. Each talk drew on some of the same arguments, which is that Human Rights both here in the United Kingdom and worldwide has gone from a small microcosm of law which was often referred to by the judge as “persuasive but not binding” to a phenomenon that is considered in every part of life; starting with arguments of abortion to end of life issues.
However, from each of the speakers there was a note of caution, that with the influx of human rights in both the legal profession and political parties, there are those who have different levels to which human rights should be considered. Two groups are instantly apparent; there are those who fall into the group of human rights in a “pure” form who consider every aspect of a person’s rights. Whereas the other group jump onto the more fashionable articles of Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights. Those who spoke last night and those who attended, the majority were in the former. In that human rights should not be forced upon after invading a country nor should a confession be made after some “coercive treatment.”
The book sparks intellectual discussion from the cover, with the picture chosen; the fall of Icarus. A landscape used in the bankruptcy court in Holland. It was argued and agreed upon by the book editors that this had a meaning when it comes to human rights. This is the fact that the notion of human rights has become devalued. The media, the general public, the Government all throw about the line “what about our human rights?” However, these same people want to be selective about who gets human rights and who doesn’t. There are often news stories in both left and right wing press that elude a hierarchy of who deserves human rights. This is where human rights become vulnerable to being used as a form of deception.
This book launch allowed for motivational and intellectual stimulus, something that is continued throughout the book itself. It is through this that I feel privileged to have been amongst something fantastic last night. On behalf of the Birkbeck Law Review team, I’d like to say thank you to all the speakers last night, the authors and editors of this book and to Cambridge University Press for giving such a memorable evening.
If you are interested in purchasing this book, it is available at this link: