HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » Editorials & Other Articles (Forum) » The administration's plan...

Sat Jun 15, 2019, 11:24 AM

The administration's plan to redefine 'human rights' along conservative lines

Source: Washington Post

The administration’s plan to redefine ‘human rights’ along conservative lines

The aims of the mysterious new “Commission on Unalienable Rights”

By Eric Posner
Eric Posner is a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. He is co-author of "Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society."
June 14 at 10:19 AM

The State Department recently published a brief, enigmatic notice announcing the formation of a new Commission on Unalienable Rights. With a modest budget of $385,074 and merely advisory powers, the commission received little attention beyond head-scratching over its strange name. Yet the significance of the endeavor should not be overlooked. It puts the government’s imprimatur on an assault upon one of the cornerstones of modern liberalism: international human rights.

According to the commission’s draft charter, its job will be to explore “reforms of human rights discourse where it has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights” — rights of the sort that Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. upheld as ideals, the charter says.

This language may sound unusual to a modern ear, but it is easily translated. Start with that ungainly name of the commission. If “unalienable” sounds anachronistic, that’s because it is. Today, we normally use the word “inalienable.” But in the 18th century, the more common term was “unalienable.” The Declaration of Independence refers to “unalienable rights,” and there is little doubt the commission’s name is meant to recall that, in the words of the Declaration, the people are endowed with those rights “by their Creator.”


Modern human rights have also morphed into something like a system of universal moral values that transcends specific treaties. The United States, virtually alone among nations, has refused to ratify most of these treaties and accordingly is technically not bound by them. But much “human rights discourse” rejects the notion that countries can opt out of the rights system. Quite a few scholars and an occasional U.S. Supreme Court justice believe, to the intense irritation of conservatives, that left-leaning human rights treaties that the United States has never ratified nonetheless override American law. The influence of “foreign law” — including “human rights discourse” — has been apparent in Supreme Court opinions limiting the death penalty and striking down the criminalization of same-sex “sodomy.” Most of the offending decisions were written by the court’s most enthusiastic proponent of foreign law, then-Justice Anthony Kennedy. As the late justice Antonin Scalia put it : “The Framers would, I am confident, be appalled by the proposition that, for example, the American peoples’ democratic adoption of the death penalty . . . could be judicially nullified because of the disapproving views of foreigners.”

But today, other conservatives see an opportunity, and the Commission on Unalienable Rights is their declaration of intent. Its plainly stated goal is not just to wipe away the baleful foreign influence of human rights “discourse” but to revive (conservative) 18th-century natural law.


Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/the-administrations-plan-to-redefine-human-rights-along-conservative-lines/2019/06/14/5e456caa-8def-11e9-b162-8f6f41ec3c04_story.html

2 replies, 492 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 2 replies Author Time Post
Reply The administration's plan to redefine 'human rights' along conservative lines (Original post)
Eugene Jun 15 OP
rampartc Jun 15 #1
Nitram Jun 15 #2

Response to Eugene (Original post)

Sat Jun 15, 2019, 11:34 AM

1. they really hate the un universal declaration of human rights


do they hate article 2 the most?

"Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty."

and "natural rights?" they usually stop at "guns."

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Eugene (Original post)

Sat Jun 15, 2019, 05:25 PM

2. They'll probably add anti-abortion language as well

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread